When you were born, you didn’t cry. After a long and arduous labour on my part, you quietly entered the world, looked around with your big brown eyes, and snuggled contentedly into my arms. The doctor seemed concerned for a moment, but after a quick check and a perfect Apgar score, it was decided that you were healthy and breathing just fine. Babies are supposed to cry when they’re born, but you didn’t – you simply joined us on the outside and settled right in.
You were a blissfully calm baby. You didn’t sleep through the night for a full year but still, looking back, you were still SO easy on us. You were sweet, affectionate, and happy to be taken anywhere and everywhere we went. I’d nurse you to sleep and then we’d nap together, hiding away from the rest of the world. We’d take long walks downtown, read books, run errands, or hang out at the park. I would hold you in my arms and drink in your sweet face for hours. Your dad would race home from work to see you, and you’d shower him with drooly kisses at the door.
I can remember your first giggle, your first steps, your first words. When you were 19 months old, we threw a baby brother into your world and naturally, you accepted him with (tiny) loving arms. You skipped over the Terrible Twos and Trying Threes, gave us a few challenges during the Eff-It Fours, and before I knew it, you were five. FIVE YEARS OLD! Any parent will tell you that a child’s fifth birthday feels like a major milestone, and that while the days may be long, the years fly by in an instant. It’s true, and it’s that sort of bittersweet pull on your heart that is the hallmark of motherhood.
Of course, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There were times you were overtired and miserable, or I was overtired and miserable, or we were all overtired and miserable. Our lives aren’t a fairy tale, and there were days I’ve chosen not to commit to memory because they were long and hard, and tested us both. And that’s ok, because life isn’t going to be a fairy tale for you, either. But you’ll do alright, I know. You’re smart and kind and strong, and the most motivated child I’ve ever met.
And now, suddenly and inexplicably, you are turning six years old. Your party is days away (mermaid-themed, of course) and your presents are hidden in my closet. You’re the second oldest kid in your class, and you cannot WAIT to really, truly be six. It’s been your life goal since you were three, though you recently informed me that you’re now looking forward to being ten (because you’re always looking ahead like that).
On the topic of you being six now, here’s the thing. You continue to be a sweet, loving, amazing gift to our family who I love more than words and would run through fire for. Except that, you’re six now, and that fire is often you. Seriously. You’re a force of nature that can warm hearts and/or take down entire buildings in an instant. Let me explain.
One of the side effects of you being so smart is that nothing escapes you – and oh, how you can rage when you’re mad. You perceive injustice everywhere, and you make it known. Sometimes that injustice is real – you have surprisingly strong feelings about global warming and the Trump administration – and other times, you’re mad because you have to wash your hands after you pee.
You set incredibly high standards for yourself, and your world is temporarily shattered when you feel that you have failed. Sure, you taught yourself how to whistle and tie your own shoes, and are ahead of the curve in basically every way at school. You can skateboard and snowboard, you’re awesome at soccer and dance, and you once built a functional booby-trap in your room without adult help…but that time you tried to do your own ponytail and it wasn’t quite right? RAGE.
You’re creative and passionate, and the fervor of your emotion knows no bounds. Not a week goes by wherein a member of my family doesn’t witness one of your rants or epic eye rolls and immediately refer back to me as a child. I get it – I created a tiny version of myself (or, what my mother calls “payback”). Your dad likes to joke that I reproduced asexually, because there is so much of me in you. But you know what? As much as we bump heads or make each other crazy by having near-identical temperaments and personalities, I wouldn’t change a thing. I love that crazy fire in your heart, and I can’t wait to see where it will take you.
Our bond has been rock solid since the moment you were born, and is one of the greatest joys of my life. We have shared stories and memories, made big plans, and have ridiculous inside jokes that make us laugh until we can’t breathe. You make me crazy, you make me cry, but above all else, you make my heart swell with a love that is bigger than anything in this world.
Happy birthday, my sweet six(teenager). May you change the world or kill me trying.
Author: Erin Pepler
Erin Pepler is a freelance writer, mom, and reluctant suburbanite living outside of Toronto, Ontario. She is usually drinking a coffee, or thinking about getting one. Erin is prone to terrible language, though not in front of her kids, and yes, she has an opinion on that thing you’re talking about. She loves music, books, art, design, cooking, travel, and sleeping more than four hours at a time (a rarity). You can find her at www.erinpepler.com or on Instagram, where she documents her passion for motherhood and caffeine.