You are FIVE!!!! I can hardly stand it! My baby girl is growing up so fast. The past few months have been so magical, watching you change right before my eyes. And when I reflect on the past five years, it is truly amazing to witness how many of the characteristics you've had since the beginning continue to age and mature with you. You've always been funny, curious, adventurous, tenacious and smart, smart, smart. You dive in to each new journey with equal parts excitement and confidence. You are lovely and sweet, gentle and kind, fiery and passionate, opinionated and assertive. And we love you so much.
Like most any stage of development, there are things about you at this point that I just want to bottle up and keep forever. Then there are those things I want to box up and ship to Antarctica! But through it all, I can't possibly express how remarkable you are, and how grateful and humbled I am that I get to be your mom. In honor of your fifth birthday, I present some of the things I've just loved about this fifth year of life:
You still take naps. Basically every day. You insist that you aren't tired, you don't need rest, you'll be fine without it, etc., but inevitably, you end up falling fast asleep in under five minutes. One day last week when you insisted on not napping, I told you to stay downstairs and play quietly so Sam and I could rest upstairs. This is how I found you, an hour and a half later:
You are extraordinarily intelligent, full of wonder, and delighted in the world around you. I get the greatest sense of joy from watching you interact with life. You are filled with a desire to learn and discover all that there is to know. Just last week I received my first letter from you. I was amazed at the way you sounded out each word, getting all of the consonants and most of the vowel sounds right. We can no longer spell words around you because you are starting to figure them out! In no time at all you will be reading and it is exciting to see your skills develop each and every day.
You have a growing intimacy with your Heavenly Father. We have watched with great joy as you have grown and matured this year. You are so perceptive to the Spirit, so curious about how to learn more and grow more in tune with God's desires for you. The questions you ask, the thoughts you express, the prayers you pray--they amaze us! I could never have imagined the discussions we regularly engage in, you at just five years old! It has been our joy to see the Spirit growing in you, to see you learning to trust us that obedience is really the best way. You are a natural evangelist, unafraid to share Jesus with friends, family, and kids you meet at the park. You are charismatic and approachable, and I pray God uses the way you lead and your caring and sensitive heart to point many, many people to him.
You are the most patient, loving, sensitive, caring and amazing big sister. When you entered my life, it was easily the best day of my life. Becoming your Mama was like opening up a part of my soul that I didn't know existed. But far, far greater than even that love is what I experience when I see the bond that exists between you and Sam. Just this morning as we walked into school, he grabbed your hand and the two of you walked hand-in-hand the entire way to class, happy to be with each other. You have your skirmishes but for the most part I am in awe of your ability to quickly reconcile, to come up with a solution that benefits you both, and especially at the selflessness you display. You are fiercely protective and amazingly patient with him. I know he looks up to you, admires you, desires to be around you, and learns so much from you every day.
You have an incredible zest for life and tenacity for learning new things. You will stick with a new hobby or skill until you've mastered it, pushing through frustration and managing steep learning curves. You jump into new situations, your mind thinking through each step, concentration evident in a furrowed brow. I pray that this sense of adventure and the accompanying confidence makes you a natural leader, a visionary, one who thinks outside the box and helps others to overcome obstacles.
You are and will always be my baby girl. No matter how many times we joke about it, I know deep in my bones that you are my girl. We have a relationship that I dreamed about for years, a bond that runs deep and true. As you grow and mature, you become increasingly independent. I learn to step back more often and let you explore things on your own. I stop giving advice and instead allow you to come to me for help. But underneath the tenacity, the intelligence, the wit, the passion, the joy and the fire, there is a little girl that eventually always finds her way back to my arms. I pray that no matter how great the plans God has for your life, or how far you go, that our relationship will always be one where you find open arms, understanding, a desire to support and encourage, and a mom who is on her knees, praying constantly.
You, Madeleine Noelle, are my joy. I praise God every day for the opportunity to be your mom. Thank you for teaching me so much about enjoying life, being generous, seeking truth, and for the constant reminder of my need for Jesus. May I always point you back to him.