Monday, February 8, 2010

To my Mad Hatter on your 5th birthday

Five years ago today, my life changed forever. 5 years ago today, I was already holding you, studying each and every one of your perfect little features, staring at you, in awe of the fact that I was officially a Mom. That I had done it. That you were this tiny little 6 and a half pounds of wonder that evoked feelings in me I did not know could exist. Telling you how long I had waited to finally meet you, the dreams I had for you, for us. Your arrival made us a family.

MH, how can you possibly be five already? I remember my labor and delivery as though I'd just gone through it. I remember bringing you home from the hospital, your first bath, your first smile (oh how you adored that purple elephant on your gym-mat), your love for your first "friends", Bernard, Mookie, and Mo (please don't blame me, Daddy named them), the colorful characters on your Tiny Love Symphony Mobile. Your first foods, your first trip to the beach, how you used to sit and spin yourself around in circles, making a pattern in the carpet. Your first crawling, your first steps, and the first time you stood up on your own in the middle of a room (it happened to be Baby Gap - thankfully, you've shared your mommy's love for shopping from birth, and have continued to be one of my favorite shopping partners ever) and everyone there clapped for you, so you kept dropping to the floor and doing your new trick again. The first time you said "I love you" (ay-yoo). Your first kisses. All of it, MH. I have soaked in everything about motherhood, and in its highest of highs and lowest of lows, could not feel more blessed.

It hasn't all been easy. 3 years of back pain, 2 surgeries, and some other physical ailments have made for some rough times. Periods of time when I could not physically take care of you. I don't know what we would have ever done without Sweetheart and Poppy, and of course, your amazing Daddy. But, I always try to look for the silver linings. I may feel like I missed out on some time with you, but on the flip side, you have gained so much. First, your relationship with your Daddy is something that turns my heart into a big pile of mush. Your dates to "Weimo-Rama", Borders, Shu-shi, Grandma G and Papa J's house. The special snuggle routine that only Daddy can do - he has you trained to expect a full-on mini body massage every night! Your love for your Daddy is one of the most pure and beautiful things I've ever experienced. And the way he loves you - well let's just say that watching the two of you together makes me fall a little bit more in love with him every day too. Sweetheart and Poppy - you see them almost every day. If you don't "see" them, you call them on the phone and walk around hugging and kissing the phone. From your adventures to Uncle D's in Boston with Sweetheart, to shopping at Trader Joe's, to making crafts, baking (one of yours and Sweetheart's faves), sleepovers, "Ruvy Tuesdays", visiting Poppy at work, building "fancy schmancies" (castles), dressing up in Poppy's hats and Sweetheart's jewelry. I could go on and on, but the point is - you are SO incredibly lucky. Many children do not live in the same state as their grandparents, let alone share the kind of bond you do with yours. And, you are also even luckier to have 2 great grandmas - Mimi, who is here in RI and loves to spend time with you whenever she can, and GiGi, who spends time between here and FL, but could not adore you more. You were blowing her away the other night when I put you on speakerphone so she could hear you doing math flashcards with Daddy.

You blow us all away. Another silver lining I've found is that I truly believe my health experiences have helped mold you into someone with more compassionate and caring than many adults I know. My "back boo-boo" happened before you were two (ironically, as a result of my pregnancy with you). All you know is how to be gentle, caring, loving, and sensitive to any situation at hand. I've seen you make grumpy old men in wheelchairs in the physical therapy waiting room smile. You make friends everywhere we go (how many other children need to have THREE separate 5th birthday parties?). There is something about you, MH, (and although I'm always saying I've got "mommy goggles", I know I'm not alone in this thought) and I wish I could come up with a better word to describe it besides "special". You emit this radiance, this personality, this pure love of life and it's as though you literally dare people not to let you endear yourself unto them.

In the Jewish religion, we name our children for those loved family members who have passed. Your Hebrew name is for both of your grandfathers (who I know are looking down on you and could not be more a part of who you are). The first part of your Hebrew name is for my Grandpa N (Sweetheart's dad). It is Nachama, and ironically, its English meaning is "kindness and compassion". We did not select the name for this reason - we selected it because it was the female version of my grandfather's Hebrew name. However, the name could not be more fitting for you. Both of your great-grandfathers (and great uncle, for whom we chose your English name) were amazing men of kindness, compassion, honor, and morality, and taken from our family far too soon. You would have been such a source of pride and joy to each of them, and I know they watch you every day, looking out for you, and everyone in our family.

You are a complete and total paradox. The parts of your character I describe above are with you every day, yet you have a compete opposite side. The one that is stubborn, does whatever she wants even after being told not to, and definitely beats to her own drum. When I ask you why your listening ears aren't working, you tell me you must need new batteries. You are so very independent - every day I wonder what you come out wearing, because you are all about doing everything for yourself - fashion being high in the pecking order. You actually refer to yourself as my little fashionista, and that, my love, you are (did I mention that you are 150% girlie-girl, and I adore every bit of it?) You have an answer for everything (one we usually can't argue with because it's legit), and love to call our bluff. A few weeks ago you refused to clean up some toys after Daddy had asked you three times to do so. So, Daddy got a garbage bag and told you he was going to throw the toys out since they didn't seem to matter to you. Did you cry, get upset, or start cleaning? No - you started handing him more toys - ones that "you'd had for long enough" or were "too babyish". And do you know what you told him? "Daddy, don't throw them out - you should give them to someone who is not as lucky as I am." Oh yes, my love, you have taken the morals we've taught you, and things we talk about on a daily basis, and used them against us at times! How do a Mommy and Daddy handle that?

There are no consequences that seem to phase you. Time outs? Forget it. Time outs for things (i.e. toys, movies) that matter to you? "But I can have it back tomorrow or in a few days, right?". It's funny - the things that should bother don't phase you at all (although you do take everything in and process it -sometimes I don't see the effect for days or even weeks, but you do get it), yet you can be so overly sensitive about the little things. I hurt your feelings and made you cry because you didn't want "that" plate for dinner. Yesterday at your birthday party one of your friends thought they were being funny and called you a ghost - it took me almost 10 minutes to calm you down from your heartbreaking tears and tell you that they were not being mean, just being silly. And let's not forget Saturday's lunch where they sang Happy Birthday unexpectedly to you at Applebee's and you burst into tears because it scared you. You are the life of the party, but it totally has to be on your own terms! While you are so very independent in so many ways, and completely have a mind of your own, when it's just you and I, all you want is me . . . to hug you (love it), cuddle you (love it), play with you (love it), entertain you (usually love it!) but you cannot grasp the concept that Mommy has to get things done too, and can't do all of those things all of the time!

For as hard as it can be getting through the toughest of days, I'm secretly thankful. You're a leader. When we get to preschool and your friends rush to you with dress-up clothes in hand ready to go, if you're not in the mood you say hi and go on do your thing. No dust will ever settle under your feet. And I'd like to think that if what we see in you now continues, and I have no doubt it will, you will not be someone who allows themselves to be pushed around. You will go after what you want in life and make it happen. And that, my love, makes me happy.

You are sharp as a tack. Your memory is amazing. You stopped me in Panera a few weeks ago to point out a man we'd met 6 months earlier for about 5 minutes while out to dinner for my birthday. He was an acquaintance of Poppy's. You got so upset that I actually stopped the man and asked him if he knew Poppy, and lo-and-behold, it was indeed the same man. "See Mommy?" you exclaimed! "I TELLED you that was Poppy's friend!". The friends we were having lunch with couldn't believe it. This is just one example - you remember places, people, and describe in great detail something that happened over a year ago. The connections you make between things are amazing. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, given that I have the memory of an elephant, yet at your age I still find myself in awe every time you wow me again.

I wish I could freeze time and bottle you as you are right now. As much as I get nostalgic for your baby years, I look at you now and each day just gets better and better. Your current obsession is all things High School Musical. You usually watch one of them every day, but before you can do so, must spend half an hour primping preparing - the boas, the shoes, the jewels, the 3 dress up outfits layered on top of each other (I gotta give you credit, I've seen you create a strapless dress of your own accord, use same said dress at a later date as a scarf, and even later a head-dress (no pun intended)). You know every word to every song and sing and dance and perform right along with the show. You even turn on your keyboard so you can play music. I must admit that a: I love the movies too and b: What I love more is watching YOU watch them. Lately every  night after dinner, you disappear, get yourself into "gear", pull out your keyboard with its pre-loaded tempo beats, shout a "5, 6, 7, 8!" and put on a show. Halfway into your second year of ballet and tap classes, you don't walk, you dance. You think the world is your stage. You adore looking at yourself in the mirror. To say you adore all things musical is an understatement, and has been since you were born. From Barry White to Music Together, to Top 40, you have rhythm like nothing I've ever seen, and pick up song lyrics immediately (you also get that from me - the song lyrics part. The rhythm, we've got no clue on, but girl, you got it going on!) MH, you are the epitome of living life to its fullest - you do not want to miss a beat and you don't. Nothing is going to pass you by, because you will simply not allow that to happen.

This may be the longest blog post I've ever written, but that's also because it's a special letter to you - one that I wanted to share with anyone willing to read even just one paragraph about the amazing privilege it is to call myself your Mommy. I could go on for hours, and I know there is so much missing from what I want to say to and about you, but I will end with this: You are the biggest and by far most amazing accomplishment I've made in this lifetime. I never knew that a 5 year old girl could be the BEST friend I'd ever have, but you are that and more. My only wish for you is that you never change from the amazing little lady you are; that the strong qualities, morals, and values you've shown us at such a young age will only continue to blossom as you do. I like to think that Daddy and I must be doing something right to be blessed with a daughter so pure of heart, full of love, and with such a true zest for every part of her life (not to mention your intelligence, though for that, we can only take credit for encouraging your eager desire to learn and experience). My promise to you is that I will forever be right here by your side for anything you need, doing my best to guide you to make the best choices, teach you life lessons, continue to share strong values and morals, celebrate life's highs with you, and be there to try and make it all better when you're sad. And of course all that fun girlie stuff like shopping, getting our nails done, doing makeup, having impromptu dance parties, baking cupcakes - you name it, you've got it.

You are the true love of my life, Mad Hatter. I could not be more proud to be your Mommy, or more grateful that if I have one opportunity in life at having a child, you are the one Daddy and I were meant to have. Like I tell you all the time, even though you're a big girl, you will always be my baby. You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy every day. You're our first, our last, our everything.

With all my love and all of my heart,

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