a letter to my daughter as she turns six years old,
in some ways you are a paradox:
since the day you were born you have been a snuggler, rooting against me in infancy not just to nurse, but to be close to me, pushing your small head against my chin, pushing to feel the resistance of another body against your own. and at 6, you are still the same. in the wee hours of the morning when it is still dark outside you will crawl into bed between daddy and me, migrating towards whatever body you can to make contact. if i am sitting at my desk or at the table, you will climb up onto my lap, wedging yourself between me and whatever i am working on. in the kitchen as i chop and mix, you drag your chair in from the diningroom and push it right in front of the cutting board to help, whether i want you to or not.
even so, you are my child who needs space. you sneak up to your room and play alone for hours. i can hear the sound of your small voice as you talk to your calico critters, your my little ponies, your dolls, your legos. you need to be alone to reset. unlike your sister, who wants to interact in all ways and all times with any human in her space, you choose your proximity to others. you know well what you need, and when it is time to escape to the backyard to swing or climb, to cuddle on the couch with books, and to sit on my studio floor drawing.
i've always felt protective of you, my sweet girl. your sister is so confident in interacting with adults, and almost to a fault desires to please those around her; of course she is rewarded with praise and affection, while you are less willing to freely hand out hugs and smiles and the words-you-are-supposed-to-say to the grownups in your life who have expectations of you. it's easy for her to get the kudos and attention from others, and for you to get overlooked. yes, i want you to be polite and kind and social, but i'm also proud of your ability to stand strong and independent. you choose carefully when and how you will show attachment, and then when you do it is real and true and an authentic expression of how you are feeling.
as you get older, i want you to remember that i love you for all of these parts of you.
i love that you forge your own path. you stand with your friends, and stick up for others even at a cost to you. you play with the boys and the girls, and when someone criticizes that, you smile and play on. you care so deeply about your sister, and you've learned all you can about her deafness and her cochlear implants: how to charge the batteries, how to turn on her implants for school, how to get her attention if she can't hear you, how to speak up for her, how she can read your lips most easily. i know she is good at speaking up for herself, but i think someday you will be her second best advocate in the world, and you may fight some of her battles for her that as her mom i'll never know about.
you are my little girl with big feelings. you have about 48 stuffed animals on your bed and you love each one as if they were living and breathing; if one is missing the tears come fast and furious. you do crazy flips and brave maneuvers on the monkey bars, but every single movie in the world is too scary for you to watch without covering your ears and closing your eyes. you are so deeply moved by the world around you, and sometimes you don't know where to put those feelings, or what to say about them, but hold on to them. you'll need them.
these will serve you well as you navigate this big world:
you are brave.
you try hard and new things.
you are strong.
you are independent. resistant to others' opinions.
you don't care about what other people think about you.
you are loyal & kind.
you love to play.
and these will be hard and might make you hurt sometimes, but make you softer and more whole:
you wear your heart on your sleeve & your feelings on your face.
you love with all you have.
you are sensitive. empathetic.
you have a tender heart.
you love every animal you meet.
you want to be held close and loved well.
you are expressive and creative and always want to do your very best.
you are amazing my sweet ruby.
listen to your brave heart, and ignore those who want you to do what everyone else is doing.
it's overrated. and way less rewarding.
i love all the paradoxes that are you.
i love you,