A Letter to My Daughter on the Day She Turned Four

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Sweets,

Tonight is the anniversary of the moment I first held you in my arms. If you read this as a grown woman someday, I am sure you have heard the story hundreds of times: I pushed for 13 hours minus the 20 minutes I spent trying to come to after fainting from exhaustion. When you finally made your way down, I placed my hand on the top of your head and cried out, “My baby! My baby!” I swear I felt the weight of the entire galaxy as I leaned back onto the bed and brought you to my chest, but you were just over seven pounds. You were worth every painful second, and I would do it all over again to meet you. You were calm and wide-eyed during your newborn exam, and then your Dada fell asleep beside us (he was a trooper through our day and a half labor) and I remember thinking, “There you are. I know you. It’s us from now on, baby girl.” And it was.

For your first two years and eight months of life, we played a duet that I think must have sounded something like the jazz music you like so much. You cried all day in the beginning and so did I. Once you were better, I took a bit to recover. But we had plenty of calm, too, and the way you relaxed in my arms nap after nap, night after night began to call me out of my darkness and into a place of healing. I wanted to be okay for you so badly, my big girl. Thank you for your daily grace as I tried to get there.

I was so afraid to ruin your life with the arrival of your sister, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. You were my cheerleader in the process of bringing her here and you’ve been her cheerleader every moment since. You are so full of empathy, genuine kindness, and desire to share and include others. You are smart and responsible and more patient than most children your age.

You really don’t ask for much—you have a content heart and are able to find joy no matter what surrounds you. This morning when we prepared to watch you open your gifts—which your Dada and I thought were pretty small this year compared to what we figured most four year old children would hope to receive (molding clay, a few books, and a simple puzzle)—and you said, “Oh, Mama! I don’t need so many gifts! I just need one. We can give the rest to my friends at my party!”

Speaking of your Dada—you still call us Dada and Mama and we love it. We’ve never corrected you and are in no hurry to grow you up any faster than you already are..

And speaking of your friends—you adore them intensely and want to include them in every bedtime story and almost any activity we go out and do. “Mama, I made a new friend!” can be heard around here often.

You love to ride your bike, and bake, and read book after book after book. You make up your own stories and puppet shows and universes out of legos and sand. You would live outside if you could, and you wanted to go on a hike for your birthday instead of anything else I offered you. You dance wildly, sing off-key, and love being thrown up in the air by your Dada. You ask me for, “Special Mama time,” when your sister is napping but you miss her terribly when we get out of the house for a date without her.

I am so proud of you, humbled by you, and thankful for your forgiveness of my imperfections in mothering you every day. After four years I think I am coming to terms with the fact that I will never be able to tell you, in words, how very much I love you. I will also never be able to repay you for everything you are teaching me. But you know me, I had to write you a little letter on your birthday anyway.

You are everything, my darling girl, and full of more fire than anyone else I’ve ever known.

I love you very much,

Mama