Dear Sweet Poppy,
On the occasion of your fifth birthday, I am writing you a letter in hopes that you will read it one day (and often) and feel how much I love you.
So much has happened in a year! Twelve months ago, we were waiting on the arrival of Baby Bug. (You always knew she was going to be a little girl.) Though I was surprised Zellie was *not* a boy, I was instantly thrilled that you were going to have a sister. I knew from the second you met her, showering her bald head with kisses, that you loved her and it warmed my heart.
Two short weeks after she was born, we took Daddy down to Emory for the operation on his spine. You and Charlie had sleepovers with DanDaddy and GranMary and were so very brave. Especially when you thought there was a giant wild bear loose in the bedroom where your grandparents lay snoring. It was hard not to be with you for that week, but I was awfully proud of how you weathered the storm. Since Daddy came home, you are always the first to help him find his walking stick when he misplaces it (quite a bit). You sit on his foot when he has muscle spasms during dinner. And, every night when you lay in your bed, you whisper, “Daddy, I hope your boo boo leg feels better tomorrow. I love you.”
You started 4K at a new school, Disciples United Methodist Church, in the fall. You were excited about making new friends, even though you missed your old pals from “your three-year-old class.” You’ve always enjoyed the company of grown-ups and were soon best buddies with all the teachers, Ms. Amy, Ms. Ann, and Ms. Linda. You also delighted in the company of Lauren, Alyssa, Erin, Anne Marie, Kathryn, Brianna, and Lila. I hope you never forget Ms. Barb, who has a special place in her heart for you. She called me at work one day to tell me that she heard you singing to yourself in the classroom while you worked on an art project. “I just wanted to let you know, ” she said, “your daughter sounds like an angel.” In fact, you were voted “Next American Idol” by your teachers at graduation. I’m so very pleased that you love music. I hope it’s a part of your life well into your promising future.
In addition to music, you are quite the prolific artist! We never seem to have enough blank sketch pads around the house to accommodate the volumes of doodles you produce. You draw in the car, at the dinner table, on the floor, in your bed. It pleases me that when Charlie logs minute after minute on the iPod, you are just as happy making pixies out of sticks, fairies out of flowers, and babydolls out of paper towels and rubber bands. You have no shortage of imagination and I challenge myself to keep up with your ideas. “Mommy, can you help me build a castle out of matchsticks, toilet paper rolls, and gum?” Nothing seems impossible to you and you rarely take no for an answer. Daddy says that you and I both could work on being more patient from time to time, but I honestly don’t know what he means.
You participated in many activities this year. You worked hard at dance class and were a beautiful pirate princess in your recital at Furman University. It was a joy watching you have fun on that stage. The bright lights and big crowd didn’t faze you a bit! You also broke several boards when you tried out Tae Kwon Do, never complained of the brutal summer heat during soccer camp, and gave fiddle lessons your best effort. In the fall you completed your first running race (a whole mile!) and grinned from ear to ear when you wore your medal around your neck for the rest of the weekend. Your enthusiasm is infectious, your spirit unflagging, and your energy boundless. May you always be willing and happy to try new things! One of these days, we’re going to master that ol’ bike of yours. Maybe the training wheels are actually holding you back?
You have a very silly sense of humor. You spent a long time trying to decipher Mommy’s really bad puns, and when the light bulb finally turned on, you were most pleased. Now, it seems like everything is a pun…which is fine by me. There has been no shortage of knock-knock and ‘why did the chicken cross the road’ jokes at the dinner table either!
Several weeks ago, I was not feeling well and I curled up on the couch to rest. You brought me a blanket, snuggled up beside me, and smoothed down my chicken head. You very sweetly sang me a lullaby and kept whispering, “There, there. There, there.” I found complete comfort in your touch and tone. It actually made me feel safe, like you were really taking care of me. Even though you may have just been pretending to be a mommy, I caught a glimpse of the young lady you will soon become. Full of compassion, empathy, and the desire to nurture and love. I must admit, I had a little tear. Sometimes my heart is so full of love for you that I’m afraid to move or breathe too deeply because I don’t want a single thing to change. But I know with each day, you grow older and all your new experiences will change you into the person I look forward to knowing even better. Just remember our deal. You know the one. You will always be my baby, no matter what.
So, Miss Poppy, I hope you stay innocent as long as possible. I can’t protect you from the big, bad world forever, but I hope that you grow up feeling empowered and loved. You bring me more joy than you know and you make your mommy very, very proud.
(Yes, Charlie’s letter is next…)