Rowan is 5!

(to see more photos of Rowan at 5, go to the photography blog here)

(This post is over a month late. Better late than never! I wanted to share parts of a letter I wrote to Rowan this year. It was kind of a long one this year, and I think she's old enough now that some of it I will leave personal.)

Rowan Joy, 2-21-2010

You are 5 today! I think about all the birthday letters I have written, and how I look forward to each one--they are like love letters, giving me a time to reflect on all of the things about you that I adore, and all the things in the last year that I see in you---growing you, changing you, forming your little heart.

I probably say this in every birthday letter, but it’s only because I feel it so strongly: I cannot believe I have a 5 year old! 5! That’s half way to 10, a quarter of the way to 20. It’s a big one. Like becoming a teenager, turning 21, entering your 30s. 5 fits in there. You are my oldest, my first. So I will always go through these milestones with you for the first time. There is something really special about that, child.

5 is far from being a baby or even a toddler. 5 is a girl. Not even a little girl. A girl. And I love the girl that you are.

You are very different from me. There have been a few times in the last weeks that you’ve exclaimed “mom, you just don’t understand me!” And I’ve thought….are we really starting this already? But I also smile, because you are right. I don’t always understand you. Sometimes I get impatient with you. Sometimes I don’t get your sensitivities, your deliberateness, your pickiness about clothes or food.

I might not always understand you, child, but I know you fully. And I love you fully. I couldn’t love you more, truly. When you smile at me, touch my face tenderly, tell me that you love me….it swells my heart to the point of bursting.

Rowan, you know what you want. You pick out your clothes each morning with certainty--and our only scuffles now come when you insist on wearing leggings with holes in the knees (because they have been worn so lovingly)…and I think that wherever we are going, requires un-holey clothing. We can usually figure it out.

You also know what you want to eat, and request things with specificity. Lunchables are your new answer to prayer: each item separated from each other in a divided plate, with a wrapped treat for dessert. It’s your heaven.

I love that you are sure of yourself in those ways. I admire your stubbornness, even when it irritates me. I look to your future and pray that you will stay a strong person, a strong woman. It will serve you well when life gets messy.

You have caught the love of words this year. I’ve decided not to push you on reading, but rather follow your lead and make sure you want to do it. You’ve figured out how to sound out so many words and letter combinations, and are writing several words on your own, too. I can’t wait to see you unlock the rest of the puzzle of reading and writing--you’re going to love it!

You have blossomed in your friendships this year. Last year, you mostly clung to my legs in new social settings…and even on our street, where you should have been getting comfortable with the kids and parents, you still seemed to hang back and not engage with the other kids. You’ve come out of your shell a bit---confidently crossing the street for playdates with Katie or Eden, staying outside by yourself to play with the neighborhood kids---it’s awesome to watch you make your way, interact, enjoy friendships. The people who you choose to surround yourself with are so important---I love watching you make decisions about who to hang around with, who you want to be close to.

You are curious about how things work--the earth, the stars, the human body. You ask good questions, and get excited about learning something new. You tell me, in a serious voice “I am very interested in how the human body works.” You have several kid encyclopedias (space, horses, sharks, insects)….and they are often your choice to read at bedtime. I’m not sure what I would do without google (probably just go to the library more often, which might be a good thing)…because it seems like almost daily, I have to google something to figure out how to answer one of your questions.

You care about how you look. This morning you dissolved in tears because your hair wasn’t laying just right. You check yourself out in the mirror. I’m trying to help you have a healthy perspective on beauty. You are beautiful and you always will be. I pray that you don’t hold it in too high esteem, that you don’t care about it too much.

I’m eager to watch your relationship with Piper this year. You told me recently that you wished she was still a newborn…I think you said this as she was getting into some of your toys in your room. Right now she isn’t much of a playmate…mostly just a threat, because she is very interested in all your toys, and she doesn’t have great judgment nor is she very careful. But I can already see her looking up to you, and I see the way you smile at her with tenderness, and enjoy her, and I overhear you telling her you love her….and I pray that you two will be good to each other, and maybe even eventually become good friends. The sound of you two laughing together…well, I honestly cannot think of a sound that brings me more pleasure.

I am proud of you, child. Proud of the girl you are and the girl you are becoming. I love you so much it hurts.

Happy 5th Birthday!


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