For My Daughter, On Her Fifth Birthday:
You are bright, smart, funny, energetic, and full of everything good in the world. Tonight is the last night you are four. Tomorrow you turn five, and that is a big deal. This birthday is hard for me, because this year launches you into many new, “big-kid” things. Just last night, your Daddy and I registered you for Kindergarten. Where have the past five years gone? You are not my baby anymore. You are growing and maturing a little more with each passing day, and that is hard for my mommy heart.
There are parts of me that want to freeze you in time.
I want you to always want to jump in my lap, hold my hand when we walk, shower me with pictures you made, and tell me you love me over and over again. I want you to always want to play with me, to have me read to you, and to be so excited about every day and what it brings. I want you to always run to daddy when he comes home from work, full of joy and anticipation. I want you to love God, love your family and friends, and love the earth just because it is what you have always known.
But I also want you to grow.
But I also want you to grow.
And I know that part of growing up means that you won’t always be my little girl. You won’t always want to hold my hand. You won’t always be so generous with the “Mommy, I love you.” I want you to become less dependent on me and daddy, and more able to do things on your own. But as you gain independence from daddy and me, I want you to become more dependent on God. I want you to continue to explore who God is creating you to be. I want you to learn how to take up space, and be fully who you were created to be. I want you to ask tough questions and wrestle with the answers. I want you to learn, discover and be challenged.
My sweet girl, this world will not make it easy for you.
It will lie to you. It will tell you that your value is based on your appearance. It will make you feel like you have to look a certain way or wear certain clothes to be accepted. It will imply through its media that you are an object to be admired. It will tell you that because you are a girl, you need to behave a certain way, do certain things, and not do other things. Those are lies, my brave girl, and that is not the story that we want you to embrace.
What I want you to hear from me, Sophie, is that you are deeply loved, valuable, and so very cherished just because you are you.
It’s okay to like pretty dresses and skirts, and even have fun with princesses and Barbies (much to your mommy’s chagrin!). But you, Sophie, are so much more than what is on the outside. God made you with a beautiful heart—a heart full of love, compassion, creativity, humor, wit, energy, sunshine, and so much intelligence to share with the world. I love watching you explore your faith, explore science and math, learn to read and write, and work on art projects with a passionate fervor. I love watching you grab your guitar and make up songs. I love watching you play with Sawyer. I love watching you run around outside and really own the space.
Don’t ever let anyone distract you from the things you love. Be who you were created to be: God’s image in your body, with your unique talents and giftings.
So, my beloved girl, on your fifth birthday, I pray this for you: I pray that you will take up space in this world by learning, growing, discovering, taking chances, making mistakes, and embracing who God is creating you to be. Sweet girl, you are going to change the world. I believe that—I believe that God has great plans for you. Do not ever let anyone downsize your place in this world—you were made to do awesome things, to be awesome. I love you more than I could ever say with words.