Dear Madeleine Noelle,
Wow, seventy months sounds really, really old. I can't believe that you're almost six! That seems impossible. Here I am, six years later, expecting another baby and reminiscing about my first pregnancy, when everything was new and exciting and joy-filled. I cried throughout the holiday season as I looked forward to your birth, counting myself blessed to know what it must have been like for Mary to be nearing the birth of her own baby, expectant and hopeful. Becoming your Mama was everything I'd hoped for and more. You are such a blessing to me.
You're a blessing to all of us, really. You are smart and witty, full of one-liners that keep us laughing. You are totally a Daddy's girl. Just this morning, like almost all others, Sam crawled in to snuggle with me, and you scrambled up on Daddy's side to linger in his arms as you woke up. Long after Sam and I came downstairs, I could hear you sharing thoughts with your Daddy, giggling and whispering and soaking up every last second of the time you had together. It was a joy to watch the two of you jogging together at the Fun Run, hand in hand, conquering those laps together. You had slowed your pace in order to encourage your little friend, a girl you've grown to love in the past two months. It warmed my heart to see how you come alongside of your friends with love and grace and kindness. Again your teacher remarked to me this month what a kind and compassionate heart you have, and what a joy it is to have you in class. For this, for Christ alive and growing in you, I am so, so grateful and blessed.
Then there's your relationship with Sam. You two are tight as tight can be. There are moments when I think you might kill each other, but for the most part you are exceedingly patient, loving and gracious with him. You are SO quick to forgive him, even when he's really hurt you or damaged something valuable. We could all learn from you in this regard, how you place relationship above all else.
You are patient and loving in how you listen to him and encourage him to use his words. I know how hard it is to wait when words come easily, but you are learning to allow him the time and space to express himself, even if it means having to hold your thoughts. There are many times you are able to translate things for us!
The two of you enjoy many of the same things. I love to watch you do art together every day, sometimes sitting together for hours coloring and drawing and making all sorts of books and pictures and pieces of art to hang around the house. Sam watches every move you make, mimicking your projects and copying your ideas, but you don't seem to mind. You encourage and help him, showing him the correct order of the letters in his name, giving him ideas.
When you found out you were having another brother, you didn't shed a tear or waste a precious second, but launched into big sister mode, thinking of all the ways you could help out and imagining all the things you are going to do with your new sibling. You can't wait to get your hands on this baby boy, and have asked repeatedly whether you'll get to visit him right away, right after he's born. And that moment--the picture in my heart and head of our first gathering as a family of five--is what brings me unspeakable joy. Like you, I can't wait for all of us be be united together.
You are determined and willful, knowing what you want and when you want it. I know this will make you into a decisive and strong young lady so even though it brings many battles and struggles into our relationship, I keep gospeling myself, remembering to temper my words, resist the urge to enter into the fight, and help you express yourself responsibly and respectfully. It's a really, really hard balance. I want you to be someone who is capable of expressing the most difficult of thoughts and emotions in a way that is true to who you are but gracious and understanding of others. I see both of these characteristics in you, truth and grace, and yet at five and three-quarters you are just beginning to learn how to weave the two together. And I am learning how to guide you through it, while growing myself in my gracious listening and respect.
You are adventurous and brave, full of spectacularly huge ideas. Like your Daddy, I'm sure you will have all sorts of goals and plans for your life. I can't imagine where the world will take you, but it brings me great joy (and puts a lump in my throat) to think of all that awaits you. I can see you traveling the world to bring compassion to the broken-hearted. I can see you daring to jump off bridges into deep waters. I can picture joy and intentionality and passion and a zest for life. All of these things exist now in a small body that houses a big mind with big hopes and plans. It is my hope that in the next twelve years and odd months that we can instill in you all you need to be a person that makes the most of this short, blessed life.
Watching you learn to love Kindergarten has been a slow but rewarding process. Those first few weeks were SO difficult. I hated sending you off with tears in your eyes. I struggled each and every morning as you questioned me with sad eyes and a hurting heart. I breathed a huge sigh of relief on the weekends, when you awoke with joy and peace knowing you would spend the day at home. And our patience and diligence paid off, sweet girl, because now you LOVE school and school loves you. It is so fun to watch as you learn to read. Your Daddy and I marvel at how you are picking up clues and learning to ride out the tension of not being perfect at reading. As you are learning to be patient with Sam and his communication, you are also learning to be patient with yourself. And this is WAY more important to us than the fact that you are reading.
Welcome to 70 months, my sweet, sassy, marvelously made girl.