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A Birthday Letter to Mary Claire

2010 December 28
by Pamela

Dear Mary Claire –

Happy 5th Birthday, my love!  You were so excited to turn five-years-old this year, telling everyone that first it was Jesus’ birthday and then yours.  One of the reasons you were so excited, you just told me today, is because the bottle of vitamins we give to you and Elizabeth say you get TWO vitamins when you are 5.

Go figure.

You woke up on your 5th birthday with your first loose tooth, which might have been the coolest gift ever.   To you this just underscored the fact that you were now officially a grown-up.

Virtually all of the images in this post were taken by Jenn Anibal

One of the greatest joys is watching you relate to the world.  You never cease to amaze me in the way you look at life.  Your imagination continues to abound.  Just tonight, as we pulled into the driveway after a New Year’s Eve party, you screamed “the head of our snowman is GONE!!!”  After I explained that he was melting with the warm weather, you started chattering away to yourself, making up an intricate story about the snowman’s head traveling to Lake Michigan to go camping.

One of the things that fascinates me most about you is the way your personality has really taken shape this year.  You’ve always been full of personality, don’t get me wrong.  But now you are more sophisticated in your approach to the world.  In some ways this has been hard for us, especially me.  You struggle with being defeated easily and there is a strong grain of perfectionism running through you.  I don’t know how to handle that still.  We will be in the middle of school, having a fun time with you running through the house to hand me flash cards with numbers on them.  We will both be laughing until I call out the number “15” and you can’t remember what it looks like.  The next thing I know you are laying on the floor, lamenting the fact that you will never know your numbers and there is no use in trying and why should you even bother because you will never get it right anyway.

When your brain flips that switch I want to slap you upside the head, honestly.  It is my role to help you work through it though and I pray that you will be more gentle with yourself.

Then there are other times, like Isabelle’s roller skating party, where you totally surprise us.  Daddy and I were both nervous for your first time on roller skates, wanting to get you to the rink a few times beforehand so you wouldn’t be miserable and defeated at her party.  We never made it ahead of time though and Daddy geared up for a hard day with you.  But you tried hard, fell (in your words) “38 times” or (in Daddy’s words) 138 times and kept going with a smile on your face.

You have your core group of friends and I can picture you being the kid who has the same friends  40 years from now.  You spend the most time with Megan our neighbor, but also enjoy your playdates with the Abbys, Sophia, Alaina, and their siblings.  Watching you interact with them, resolve conflict, and negotiate is something I marvel at.

More than anything, you and I have bonded through this homeschool journey together.  You don’t realize how much we are embarking on unchartered territory, how completely out of my comfort zone this process has been.  Your eagerness to learn has been such an encouragement to me.  Without you knowing it, you have given me the nudge I needed to keep going.  We are learning together and growing closer in the process.  I love reading new books and exploring different subjects with you.  I love that we have this language and history to share.  Somehow the process of doing laundry prior to washing machines came up in a conversation recently.  You and I looked at each other knowingly, having just read about it together.   Traveling down this path with you has been so exhilerating, so scary but fun and rewarding at the same time.  I love watching you learn and grow.

Watching you navigate the relationship with your sister has been the most interesting part of your growth this year.  A year ago you mostly tolerated her.  You’ve always been the proud big sister, but the truth is that she was more annoying than fun until recently.  Now you are far more likely to engage her in play, though you still mother her more than anything.  You sometimes dote on her to no end, much to “Sissy”s delight.  She never tires of this kind of play.  You often pick out her outfits and try to dress her, which she abhors.  When she doesn’t cooperate with whatever intricate story is playing out in your head, you respond with an exasperated “E-Liz-A-BEEEETH!”  Then there are times when your story has no place for her.  She knows she is being excluded and responds by destroying whatever you are up to.  Although we try to explain that she just wants to be a part of what you are doing, you rightfully don’t understand her reaction.   I pray for your relationship often and hope you two will become and remain close.

Your favorite things are playing with polly pockets, eating gummy candy, having Daddy chase you around the house, making up stories, and playing baby dolls with friends.  You love chicken nuggets and french fries, grapefruit, sleeping late, watching shows on TV, and creating memories.  You are so big on atmosphere.  You won’t ask for hot chocolate.  Instead you will say “Can you make us some hot chocolate and then we will drink it snuggling by the fire under a warm and cozy blanket?”  If I suggest going to the library, you will say “I have a better idea:  how about if we go to the deli to share our favorite sandwich and chips, then go to the library that has the castle, play for awhile, then read some books together, then get a movie and stop by McDonalds to play on the way home?”

You really have it all figured out.

You are independent in your clothing choices, although that’s been well-documented.  And you are always up for a new adventure, though you prefer if Daddy and I are holding your hand the whole way through.  You seem to romanticize some of your past experiences, talking about swim classes, for example, so fondly that I wonder if we were in the same place.  And you regularly negotiate with me about when we can go camping again.  I think you would live in a tent if you could. 

In so many ways you are truly the first-born kid.  You are responsible and very grown-up.  I can take a nap with you awake and you rarely break a rule unattended.  You worry about things too, regularly asking me if I will help take care of your kids when you get married like Baczi and Papa help me.  You are thoughtful and cautious.

You have been wonderful and I am so grateful to have you as our daughter.  I learn from you daily and delight in having you in my life.  People sometimes say it can be difficult to be around small children all day in lieu of grown-up conversation.  But honestly I never feel that way because you are so interesting to me.

I am so, so glad to by your mommy.  I love your snuggles, the way you request them often, and how sweet and encouraging you can be.  I thank God that He gave you to us for this time and cherish my moments with you.  Thank you for allowing me to grow alongside you, for readily forgiving my many mistakes as I learn to be your Mommy.

Happy 5th Birthday, sweetheart.  You are my big girl and I love you so very much.

Your Mommy

7 Responses leave one →
  1. Shelly permalink
    January 7, 2011

    Excellent!! The pictures are fantastic!!! I’d live to have some taken of my family like that:). You have a beautiful family!!!

    • Pamela permalink*
      January 9, 2011

      Thanks Shelly. Let me know if you want Jenn’s info. She was fantastic to work with.

  2. Shelly permalink
    January 7, 2011

    Love, not live!!!

  3. Sarah (Batson) Boyd permalink
    January 7, 2011

    That was beautiful Pam :)

  4. Nicole Dzikowicz permalink
    January 7, 2011

    Very touching! You have such a beautiful family!!

  5. Bailey permalink
    January 8, 2011

    Beautiful :)

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