You had your last soccer game this past weekend. Like always, you gave it your all and sprinted across the field with your tongue dangling from your mouth. Your face was flushed with heat (it was unseasonably warm even for Georgia) as well as happiness. Following the game, your coach handed out medals and when he draped one around your neck, he said, “This is for Madeline who never runs out of gas.”
That’s my girl to a tee – a spirited child who never stops going. You’re always in a hurry (except at bedtime). Even your birth was a whirlwind for us. After a quick 20 minutes of pushing, you were in my arms and I was crying tears at the miracle of you, saying over and over, “Thank you, God. Thank you, God.”
Once a wiggly, insomniac baby, then a bouncy, insomniac toddler. Next came the inquisitive, insomniac preschooler. And now here you are: A SLEEPING 5-year-old. You still don’t seem to be tired too often, but you do sleep at night curled up next to your little sister, hugging your favorite stuffed animal – a beanbag tiger.
My first baby girl, don’t think for a minute that steam is the only thing you rarely run out of. You won’t be outdone in generosity either. You possess a compassionate heart that naturally gives and gives.
On your birthday, you and Rae were eyeing your birthday presents when you volunteered with absolutely no prompting, “Baby Rae, you can open one of my presents if you want.”
Your sister’s face lit up as she turned to me and exclaimed, “I open a present, too!”
Another time I went upstairs to check on you and Ishaan, a neighbor’s child you like to play with, and found the two of you hovered over a pile of coins from your piggy bank.
“What are you guys up to?” I asked.
“I’m giving Ishaan some of my money,” you told me.
I’m sure Ishaan was quite pleased with how that playdate was unfolding. Talk about sharing!
My sweet girl, a lover of bugs, drawing and coloring, fairies, soccer, baking, eating chocolate, green olives, feta, and hummus (not together), all things blue, nature walks, Feezy, Ribbon Lassie, and Kitty (your three imaginary friends who apparently also turned 5 this weekend), swinging, wrestling with Daddy, cuddling at bedtime, singing, running and running and running some more, a hater of bedtime, onions, and making stinkies, you are happiness. You are optimism. (When you spilled strawberry yogurt on the ribbon of your new soccer medal and I couldn’t get the stain out, you said, “That’s okay. Now it’s just more colorful.”) You are sensitive to spiritual things and to others’ feelings. You hate it when anyone cries. You refuse to be in the same room when one of your sisters has to endure a shot, but you’re eager to offer comfort once the prick of the needle is over. You are creative, smart, witty, silly, energetic, and perceptive (you have your daddy’s eye for details and notice things like the one flower embroidered on your dress that is missing its center). And you are kind. You’re turning into such a fine, little lady. Every day you make me proud.
For these past five years (five years!!! I cannot believe I have a 5-year-old now!!!), your little life has helped shape me into a better person. Your bright smile has made me more joyful. Your tenacity (and all the smoothie spills on the dining area’s carpet) have made me more patient. Your energy has made me stay somewhat in shape even though I’ve sidelined my running shoes. Your tears have made me more compassionate. Your intrepid and quick fingers that effortlessly grasp crickets and spiders have made me less fearful. Your generous nature has made me want to give more. And the love you have for me has made me pray the very words I said over and over when I first met you every single day since I held your newborn form in my arms: “Thank you, God. Thank you, God.”
I love you, Madeline. Happy, happy birthday! You’ll always be my special, first baby bear – the best first baby bear a mother ever could want!