My sweet, 6-year-old girl, happy, happy birthday! Last week you were blessed to spend a week in heaven – otherwise known as horse camp. When I picked you up one of the days, your instructor remarked, nodding in your direction, “This girl cracks me up. She’s always wanting to make sure she’s doing everything exactly right.”
That’s you, my little perfectionist. Oh, Rae, you always try so hard at everything you set out to do. Sometimes the intensity at which you work at something – whether it’s forming lower case letters or running a half-mile alongside me – surprises me. I admire how hard you work and how you give your best to everything, but sometimes, as your mama, I worry you’re afraid to be less than perfect or you’re afraid that if you don’t do something well, you’ll be a failure. You’ve been gifted with so many talents, but please don’t be too hard on yourself when you fall short or just feel like you’re not measuring up to some imagined or real standard. Remember that you’re not a super-human but just a human who depends upon supernatural grace. This is a lesson your mama is still working hard to embrace!
I did love seeing how much you enjoyed being around horses. The sweet smell of manure mingled with hay and the earthy scent of a horse transported me back to my own horse crazy childhood when all I wanted to do was ride and lose myself in the world of those beautiful beasts. It’s fun to see you love something I once loved! (You seem to really like running, too, and are quite speedy on the soccer fields.) It’s not so fun, however, to see your rail-thin body and puffy eyes at the end of a fun but equally exhausting day. My sweet girl, you were recently diagnosed with mono after I spent a long few days worrying about your decreasing appetite and symptoms of malaise. For four days you ate nothing but soup! You’ve grown so thin, but thankfully you’ve started eating again. I’m waiting for you to gobble up a rich, buttery, and cheesy bowl of grits some morning soon (this is one of your favorite breakfast dishes right now). Fortunately, mono at this age doesn’t disrupt your daily activities too much. Our pediatrician obviously gave us the green light for horse camp. We also had a family birthday party for you, and you requested “pig ribs” for dinner. So funny that this former vegetarian is raising such passionate carnivores! You donned a turquoise dress for the celebration. Turquoise is your favorite color these days. Your dolphin cookie cake had turquoise frosting on it as well, which pleased you very much. You asked for roller skates and some books, and your birthday wishes came true. We’ve already read the delightful and nonsensical Princess Hyacinth: The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated (Mary Elizabeth loves this one, too) several times, and your nose has been inserted to the other books you received as gifts. You’re a voracious reader. You have a wonderful imagination and love to draw as well. You want to be a veterinarian when you grow up and are so sweet with animals. You give Layla [our Lab/Great Dane mix] morning belly rubs and help to feed her in the morning.
Other news from this past year: You had another great soccer season. You got to swim with dophins and give one a kiss. What a lucky kid you are! We’ve baked lots together and read more stories than we could ever count. You like to tell “knock, knock” jokes that don’t quite make sense but cause me to chuckle nonetheless. You loved singing in your homeschool choir. You made your stage debut as a hee-hawing donkey in The Musicians of Bremen. You had your first sleepover right after you turned 6, and the mom said you were so sweet and polite. You make Daddy and me very proud. You have a beautiful smile that brightens my day; I especially love that dimple that pops out when you grin because Daddy has the exact same one. You have a beautiful face with creamy skin lightly dusted with freckles and those big, brown doe eyes fringed with dark, long lashes. Your hair is kissed with the sunshine and long and wavy (I call it your mermaid hair). But it’s your beautiful heart I love the most. You truly are a “Rae of sunshine” who is eager to please and bring joy to others. You write me the sweetest notes and are quick to express your love for me. You’re sensitive. Sometimes your eyes will fill with tears, and you’ll blame it on them just hurting, but I know something has touched your soul. You rejoice with the world and bleed with it, too. I know how it feels to feel so deeply. We are cut from a very similar cloth, sweet girl.
Daddy was recently working on organizing our hours and hours of video footage, and he showed me some clips from when you were a baby – all chunky thighs (Papa called you “Chunk Style”), gooey grins, and happy squeals and coos. Well, my eyes started “hurting” and watering because my sweet Baby Rae is growing up but – wow! – you’re turning into such a fun, smart, contemplative, silly, lovely, and polite, little girl. Happy 6th birthday, my love, my dove, my treasure divine (or my MLMDMTD as Papa used to and still sometimes does call me). I love you to the moon and back….now and forever and ever.