Our daughter turns 5 tomorrow and my only thought is:
How did that happen?
I can still remember the nervous thrill of taking her home from the hospital, settling her into the crib in our tiny apartment, watching her sleep and wondering, “How on earth do we do this?” I was sure the nurses had made a mistake sending us home. I mean, we’d never done this before. What if we got it wrong?
Five years, another child, and lots of “wrongs” later, we now have a little lady in our house.
And I can’t sum up her impact on our life in a few hundred words. Maybe that’s why we couldn’t find the perfect card for a 5-year-old daughter.
Maybe pictures will help.
This is a girl who knows what she wants. I take requests for cakes for birthdays and do my best to fulfill those requests. We have some stories to tell about failed cakes, but this one actually turned out good. I don’t know if she was humoring me or not, but her expression is SO Isabelle. She is dramatic (are there any girls who aren’t) and expressive and very much a touch person. I am less of those things, which means that sometimes she and I find ourselves at odds. Daily, she teaches me to step outside what’s comfortable and look at things from someone else’s point of view. When I’m sitting on the couch, perfectly content reading a book or writing at the computer and she jumps on my lap to snuggle in, she’s not trying to annoy me but show love and seek it in return. She lives life loud, and I feel like the hotness of the pink frosting is her color.
But lest you think she is all girly girl, despite the fabulous fashion sense, she is hands-on and mechanical. Her Barbie jeep needed some assembly required, and though I didn’t stick around the witness the assembly, I’m sure she had her hands all over it. She likes to try to fix things. Like the half a dozen splinters in her finger from the telephone pole in the background of the photo. Four hours after she received the splinters, she told me her finger hurt. And that she’d already pulled the tops off the splinters so removing the rest of them became nearly impossible. She doesn’t cry for shots or blood draws or finger pricks, though she will sometimes cry when her toe hurts or she gets a paper cut. She is tough and tender, and I wonder at how she’ll balance both in the world in which she grows up.
In the last year, we’ve seen her curiosity and quest for knowledge grow. We took an afternoon trip to a wildlife management area near our house, and she used those binoculars like she was born to do it. After soaking up some knowledge at the visitors center, she identified some Canada goose nests as we drove.
With school on the horizon, I’m encouraged by how much she loves to learn and fearful of how much she hates to be told what to do. But she loves her Sunday School teacher, and she loves teaching her brother the things that she learns, so maybe she just doesn’t like learning from her mom.
She is the girl of the endless questions, which I’m told could describe me as a child, too. Divine retribution, I think. There are worse things she could be.
And while she isn’t reading on her own yet, she loves books. Even this brochure/magazine from the Department of Conservation. She flipped through the whole thing telling her own stories about it, then asked her Papa to read one of the longer articles in it to her. Every. Single. Word.
It is true that I don’t know what she will do or become or pursue when she’s older, but it’s wonderful and awesome to see her personality emerge and mature. She’s “Izzy fierce” as we like to say sometimes (thanks, Jeannine!) and she will change the world in some way, big or small. She reminds me that there are things worth fighting for and that the status quo isn’t acceptable. She has the potential to be a woman who loves God and loves people with everything she has. And that might get her in trouble. Lord, help me help her navigate those waters.
For now, though, I have to remind myself that she’s still a little girl. She’s playful and fun and though I have high expectations for myself and others, I don’t have to place them on her shoulders right now. There are things I want her to know.
Like that she is beautiful, inside and out. And that when people tell her how pretty or how cute she looks, that it’s okay to say “thank you” but that her value isn’t wrapped up in her looks. She is loved and cherished and uniquely created. Compassionate and friendly and a really good big sister.
Like that I envy her because she makes friends so easily and quickly with strangers. She is so trusting, which scares me sometimes, and I don’t want to have to teach her about the ugliness of the world. And I don’t look forward to the day when someone, maybe even a friend, lets her down or hurts her.
I know these days are coming, what with school starting in the fall. She’s bound to have questions. And I want her to ask them, even if I don’t know the answer or don’t think I’m ready.
Five years. Some days, it’s felt like an uphill climb, being the mother of a firstborn daughter. Other days, it’s been a roller coaster ride. And other days, a lazy stroll.
I couldn’t have imagined this day when we brought her home from the hospital because frankly, I couldn’t imagine the next day or the day after that.
And all too quickly, I’ve forgotten thousands of moments and laughs and funny things she’s said.
What I know is that in the midst of raising a child, I, too, am being raised.
In the ways of grace and love.
Of discipline and consistency.
Of confidence and decision-making.
Of letting go.
And my education has only just begun.
Who will I be in five more years because of who she is and who she becomes?
God only knows.
And I’m glad to be along for the ride.