You started your first day of pre-school last week, and I had a vision of you turning into a young woman. An overly dramatic reaction, I’m sure, but it felt like your first step away into becoming your own person. It has been such a delight to watch you growing up, to see your imagination explode and watch your personality come to life. It makes my heart swell with happiness to see the little person you are becoming.

Every day, I’m amazed by the things you say. I’m trying to keep a journal of all your cute, clever, and funny comments, but there are just too many now! For instance, today you were walking along the edge of an open drawer on our built-in, and I asked you to be careful. You replied: “I’m walking over to the wild side, Mom!” (I hate that you call me MOM, what happened to Mama??) I hope that you always feel confident using your voice, inserting your opinions into any conversation while knowing that your contribution to this world matters deeply. You will learn that listening is usually more powerful than talking, but I hope that you are comfortable speaking up and speaking out.

I love playing make believe with you. We have been astronauts in outer space, squids in the ocean, cheetahs and dinosaurs, switched roles between mommy and daughter and daddy and baby. Our house is full of caves, oceans, mountains, offices, and dance floors. I hope that your imagination continues to thrive and isn’t destroyed by the “real world.” I hope that you continue to come up with wild scenarios for us to make-believe that have no limitations from the laws of science, nature, gender or time.

I love that you are so into monsters, skeletons, bats and ghosts. You love dinosaurs, your construction book and watching neighborhood construction projects from your stroller. You love being outside and playing in the dirt. You love my make-up, nail polish, taking care of your baby dolls, being Mommy’s helper and loving on your baby brother (you were VERY excited to help me sweep this evening). You love swinging high and fast, spinning around in circles, and flying with Daddy. I love that one day you want to wear pretty, sparkly dresses and shoes, and the next day you’re rocking a dinosaur or Cubs shirt. I hope you never lose the ability to express yourself however you choose.

Physically, I hope you can express yourself however you please – whether being gentle and calm or wild and raucous. Fashionistcally, I hope you can express yourself however you please – wearing any color, style, trend or accessory that floats your boat. Emotionally, I hope you can express yourself however you please – smiling, crying, anger, courage, gentleness, the whole gamut. Mentally, I hope you can express yourself however you please – not shying away from acting smart or nerdy, not feeling bad when you don’t know something, maintaining mental curiosity and exploring any interesting topics that you stumble across. Spiritually, I hope you can express yourself however you please – whether in your Mom and Dad’s tradition or not, whether you connect best with God/Creator/Spirit through church, through nature, through music, through art, through reading or writing.

Today you told me that you don’t like mints any more (you are usually obsessed with Altoids and I use them to bribe you frequently). You said you changed your mind. I hope you know that you can ALWAYS change your mind about any variety of topics. You can change your thoughts and opinions based on new knowledge and information learned. You can change your mind on whether you are ok with what is happening at any moment in time. You can change your plans for the future. You can change your boundaries to make yourself and your relationships healthier.

I love to squeeze you tight and force cuddles upon you (I’m trying to start practicing giving you bodily autonomy, I promise!). I love staring at your profile from an inch away, memorizing the curves of your baby nose and lips, the orbs of your big, blue eyes, and the velvety roundness of your cheeks. I hope and pray that the world doesn’t wear you down. There are a lot of terrible, horrible, ugly things out there, sweet girl. Things that your sensitive heart will see and will want to break over. Things that will make you question the goodness of humanity and the sanity of God for making any of this happen. Know this: for every horrific, evil thing you learn about, there is a counterpart. Every human is capable of good and evil. All of us will make the right/good/healthy choice at times, that lead us and others into a better, fuller life. And all of us will choose evil at times – selfishness, self-centeredness, apathy and violence. Keep seeking the good. It’s out there, all the time. And it can be equally heart-breaking with its sweetness. Do your part to bring Heaven down to earth and to make this a better place for all of us. I’m so confident that you will.

I see you; I know you; I love you.

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