As You Turn 5

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I just finished reading my thoughts from your last birthday and the emotions are still raw in the face of all the new things I’m feeling today, a year later as you turn 5.

Last night when I put you to bed, I had tears in my eyes as I tried to convey to you the breadth and depth of my love for you. I choked back big giant sobs so I wouldn’t scare you before bed. I whispered in my cracking, quivering voice, how my love for you is unwavering, unrelenting and constant. You could tell I was crying, you squinted into the darkness looking to catch the moonlight in my tears and I let you see them, I let you see my love. You smiled and leaned into me. I held you, kissed you and you floated off to sleep, to dream with the angels.

This is by far the weepiest of birthdays for me. I can’t even explain why. Maybe it’s because with each year, I wonder, despite pouring myself into motherhood and womanhood, if I’ve done enough. If I’ve let slip by another year without being everything you deserve (because you, my love, deserve more than any mere mortal can give). Maybe it’s because I can’t turn back time. The 1 year old, 2 year old, 3 year old, 4 year old you I’ve fallen so madly in love with is just a shadow of this 5 year old, peeking out randomly. I’m afraid I’ll forget all the wonderful you’s you’ve been throughout the years.

More than any sense of something slipping through my fingers, though, it’s the potential in a new year which gets me most. This birthday has been my most tearful maybe because my heart feels the open road ahead of you, the beauty of life and possibility and wonder in the palm of your tiny hand.

Today you knew exactly what you wanted to do – an ordinary day to celebrate an extraordinary girl. lunch at Chipotle with your favorite friends, ice cream then frozen yogurt for dessert and a stroll .  We did every last thing and then you were so tired you wanted to go to great-grandpa’s house to watch the Food Network. We sprawled out on couches and 45 minutes later we were all buzzing with energy again. A trip to the bookstore and a movie night at home with the family rounded out the day for you.

You know what you want, kid. All. The. Time.

You find pleasure in being together as a family. You happily soak us all up.

Your heart is big and feels deep. You feel your emotions down into your bones and you feel for others with the same depth.

You love love. A born romantic.

This year I’ve seen more clearly than ever who you are and who you will be. Anything before this year has still been nurturing the baby/child in you. This 4 into 5 year, though, has been about watching you wiggle and stretch and nestle into you. Less about holding your hand, more about standing by your side. Not to mention you look so much older. Every so often you’ll turn a certain way and I’ll catch a glimpse of what you’ll look like 5 years from now and I can’t breathe. I feel the same way when you talk about your future – where you’ll live, the work you’ll do, the family you’ll have. Edging towards young ladyhood but still wading in the baby/child mode, one day you’ll tell me you’re moving to New York City with your best friend…the next you snuggle into my lap and tell me you’ll never leave me.

Dessa, you are a beautiful sensitive soul. You rush to the aid of anyone in need, by nature you love to rescue. You adore animals beyond words; they make you grin from ear to ear. The beach let’s you fly high and sink deep into yourself. You wake up every morning full of sunshine and cuddles (and bless your heart you still let me spoon you!). You revel in our nightly gratitude ritual and beg to give thanks for a dozen things every night. You melt into touch – a hug, caress, a swing in my arms, a rub of your feet – it’s your love language. You like to snuggle into a pile of books and disappear by yourself. With confidence, you request to be left alone. With the same confidence, you ask me to hold you in my lap.

Thank you for allowing me to grow alongside you. Thank you for teaching this impatient student so much about life. Thank you for showing me to stop and be still. Thank you for demanding my attention, for drawing me out of myself and into the moment. Thank you for being patient with me. Thank you for still letting me hold you and snuggle you. Thank you for letting me go along for the ride.

Happy Birthday, my sweet Dessa.

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  1. this is so sweet! happy birthday to dessa! five is so hard on us as moms, i totally agree. the twins are 5 and for some reason its killing me, though i know i went through this with frankie too. i think i’m having the hardest time because in just months they will be full time in school and i do.not.know. how i am going to handle that.

  2. Carla,
    You continue to deeply touch my heart with how you love your girls! This is a beautifully written, moving piece that I so appreciate.

    Love this line so much:
    “Less about holding your hand, more about standing by your side.”

    We need your loving and accepting mom example!

    I’ve also been so touched by your passion for writing and self-expression. We are very much alike in this way.

    Keep up the great and inspiring work.

    Good to be connected with you.
    Smiles, Maya

    1. Maya, I feel the same way! So glad we connected. We are certainly kindred spirits. Here’s to hoping our paths cross one day =)

  3. This is so moving, Carla. Especially for me as my own daughter just turned 9 and I am feel so panicked at the passage of time. Thank you for helping me to remember to love every moment and take every opportunity to show her. xoxo

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