Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Dear Alyce,

Yesterday you woke up and you were five years old. Do you remember when you were born? I do. You'll learn about this when you're older, but grown-ups are always thinking about the past. We cling to it the way that you leap toward your future. I think about the day you were born because it was magical. You don't ask me too often to tell you the story of your birth, except for the part where we named you (and I love to tell that story). But one day you'll want to know that it was very, very cold outside on the day you were born. I'll tell you how I walked around the house for almost two days, encouraging you to move down, down, down.  How I was frightened of my labour pains but then you were born I wasn't frightened anymore. How when we met I understood that you were mine and I knew how to love you and everything was how it should be. Sometimes I make mistakes but I always know how to love you. I write you love letters all the time, like this one, on your birthday.

Will you read this when you are grown and remember what it was like to be five? Let me help. You still believe in imaginary worlds, even though you pretend not to sometimes. One day at school I watched your librarian read you a story about bats sneaking into a library late at night to read all the books, and then she asked your class if this story could happen in real life. (Of course it could happen, bats love to read, we all know that.) You were the only one to raise your hand. So now I'm watching you learn that other people have already stopped believing in stories, and while it makes me sad to think you might have given up hope, I know better. I still believe in fairies, Alyce, so don't bother with what other people think.

Before you were born I thought children were sweet and delicious. You, my Alyce, are sweet and delicious, but you are also brave, and confident, and stubborn, and curious, and electric. The other day you asked me what would happen if a space rock hit the earth like it did the dinosaurs. Later that day you asked me to explain war. I wish you still asked mostly about unicorns, but you are five now and have one small foot planted firmly in the world. You already know why it is wrong to hurt someone else, that one of our most important tasks in this world is to be kind. You also know that things are complicated and that sometimes it isn't easy to be kind. But the thing is, you try harder than anyone I know, and that is one of the reasons I love you so much.

I struggled writing this letter. I started yesterday, on your birthday, but I kept putting it away. Nothing felt right. Ask anyone else and they'll tell you why: I'm not quite on board with your growing older. Why is this so hard for mothers to do, to get on board with the inevitable, and wonderfully exciting new things you'll experience as you get bigger and bigger, like wearing earrings, going to the mall alone with your friends, or falling in love with Buffy the Vampire Slayer (hands down the greatest heroine ever)? Is it because we worry about the not-so-wonderfully exciting new things you'll also experience? I think it is all true. But there is something else that makes me drag my feet. I have loved so much about you at every year of your life, and at each birthday I just can't imagine that there could be more.

So I'll use this special place, this blog I write mostly to you and your sister, to tell you all the wonderful things I love about you when you are five. I love that you pronounce scissors as zizzors, and say burgerker instead of burger. I love how you spoon me when we sleep together, how you nuzzle your head in the space at the back of my neck. I love how you sing, dance, and leap your way through so much of your life. I love how you never forget your sister. I love that you asked for a fish for your birthday and you named him Periwinkle. I love that you care so deeply.

Yesterday you woke up and you were five years old. I predict that it will be an excellent year.

Your Mama


  1. I get the overall feeling of this letter on each of my children's did this happen?? How did you get so big? How did I create and raise someone so hugely amazing? When my grandmother passed away, she was 92, and her children were 70, 68, and 67. They stood there, with their white hair, whispering, "Mom"...and I wonder if she saw them and wondered, "How can you be this grown up and wonderful??"

    Waah! Tears dripping on the keyboard. This letter is such a treasure. Five is wonderful. And so is six! and so is four and eight...because they're just so wonder-full, aren't they?

    Happy Birth-Day to you, and to Alyce!

  2. Happy birthday! Our children's growing can pass us by if we do not notice, pay attention and live in the moment as they do. I forget too and then wonder at the time passing and the changes.