You are five. The line between little girl, and full on kid has officially passed (though you busted through that line about six months ago, running and laughing, like you do). I understand now why some moms stop writing about their kids at five. I understand why that is the line. This year was big for you, and I am aware more than ever that yours is a story all your own, that I am a witness to it, a major player in it, it is a story that is between you and your God. It is my hope that these letters, my writings (especially about you) are a gift to you, and not a burden. I know that it may be both sometimes, but I am hoping to model what I want for you, to be woman hearing and following a wild and free God.
This year you went to pre-k. Five days a week your dad gets you out of bed just as I am walking out the door. He cuddles with you on the couch until you are awake enough to put on your uniform, and then off you head, out the door to school. You no longer have most of your day with us, with your dad or close friends of mine that let me know all the ins and outs of your life. You have your own world that you are a part of, and you love every second. I don’t know how to tell you that in a few short weeks school will be over and Ms. Rudolph won’t be your teacher next year. To say that she is beloved is probably an understatement. You adore your teacher this year.
A few weeks ago a song came on the radio that you declared “YOUR FAVORITE!” (you generally speak in all caps.) As I listened to the lyrics I laughed. Oh, oh-oh-oh-oh, oh this is gonna be the best day of my li-i-i-fe my li-i-i-i-i-i-i-fe. You wake up every day and fully expect to have the best day of your life. Most days you do, you do have the best day of your life. May you always remember that you find what you are looking for.
You not only love life, you love people. All people. You just love people. On weekends, and during school breaks, I am learning that your dad, your sister, and I are not enough social interaction for you. We need to go to a park or a bounce house where you can find new friends, talk to strangers, interact with the masses that live in this world with you. When I ask who your friends are at school, you tell me that they are all your friends. You mean it. Why would you not be friends with every kid in your class? You cannot wait to share your cupcakes and prizes with them today. You still genuinely love sharing.
Most dear to my heart, you insisted that Priscilla get to come to your class and share in your celebration. You two are each other’s constant companions. You like each other, you watch out for each other, you don’t even like it when she sleeps in the bottom bunk. I know a little something about sisters, and I know that this relationship will not always be this simple. I know you may go through a rough patch. But I also know that this relationship will be one of your greatest gifts. Your sister will always know you in ways that no one else can, simply because she was always there.
This year your world has expanded, and gotten more complicated than you want it to. You wish to separate the world into good people and bad people; you wish to separate behaviors into good choices and bad choices. I wish it could be that easy. I wish it could be that simple. I hope that I am teaching you how to hold those labels lightly, how to understand that all people are made in the image of God. I hope that I am teaching you to empathize with people, even when we don’t understand the choices that they make. I hope I am modeling this well, but I need you to know I am struggling with this too. This big and beautiful life is just really confusing sometimes. At five, I see glimpses of this in your understanding. There is a part of me that wants to protect you, to give you easy answers and make sure that your world is always safe. But I know that isn’t the answer. You are smart, and your heart is just so big. Even at five, there is room to hold space for these contradictions.
As you have begun to understand good choices and bad choices, you have begun to ask if you are good, if your choices are good. As your mother, I will always tell you, you are good, you are good, you are good. As many times as you need to hear, you are good Juliet, you are so so so good. But know that the world will not always tell you the truth, there are voices that will tell you all kinds of ugly things. If there is one thing that I could gift you on your fifth birthday, it is this, for you to always know how very good you are.