10.09.2018

She's Five

Pamela Salai Photography

Dear Lucy,

Today you are five years old. Half a decade. A whole hand. If you look up numerology, five is described as being the most dynamic and energetic of the single digit numbers. 

My gal, you are just that.

This past year you have grown in ample strides. Intellectually, your need to understand the world around you is insatiable, your ability to hear, remember, and put into use new vocabulary, is remarkable, and your independence has touched every part of our lives. You are growing up right before my eyes.

Like a rolling stone, milestones this year evolved at an alarming pace as your neared your birthday:

·         You can now draw stick figures that actually resemble people, and have created several family portraits of our trio.
·         You conquered your fear of being submerged in water, and now freely jump into pools, and swim below the surface.
·         You can take care of your basic hygienic needs, including successfully showering yourself.
·         You read your very first words: “hero” and “jumbo.”
·         You can get your own snacks and glass of water.
·         You know how to work the TV and access your favorite shows on Netflix.

What is most memorable for me was the summer – you and me. It was, by far, the most enjoyable summer as your Mama. In the past, I often struggled to come up with activities that we could both enjoy, that you would be able in which to participate, and that were appropriate for your age. This summer blew the lid off of all those previous parameters. You are old enough now that the activities we can do together are fun for the both of us, and the places we can go are with minimal preparation, and your willingness to experience new adventures is awesome.

We did so much!! Most notably, we took our first “girl’s trip,” where we drove down to Pigeon Forge, TN, to meet up with my long-time friend and her daughter. It was a lengthy drive down, but you managed like a seasoned pro, exceeding all my expectations. My girl, you were in fact, good company. We listened to stories on a CD and discussed what happened. We laughed a whole lot. Our visit to Tennessee was incredibly fun, and you made fast-friends with R, who is several years your senior. From Tennessee, we headed to Asheville, NC, for a couple days and you continued to enjoy the adventure just as much as I did. When all was said and done and we were home, we both decided that an annual girl’s trip was going to have to become our tradition.

At five years old, your love of music continues, and you thoroughly enjoy artists such as Imagine Dragons, Lady Gaga, Camila Cabello, and Taylor Swift. I see a concert in your near future, darlin’. With music comes dancing, and you are often twirling and creating routines. Crafting is your go-to pastime, and the table you occupy in the living room is often happily covered in markers and remnants of whatever picture you created or construction paper you’ve cut and glued. A slight obsession with makeup has developed, and this one has been a challenge for me. It’s not that I believe makeup is bad; I have grown to love it as I’ve gotten older. I just don’t want you to ever feel the need to wear it, to hold yourself to some unrealistic and unhealthy standard. For now, we allow you to play with some makeup, but when you exit the house, for the most part, we don’t allow any. For special occasions, a select almost translucent eye-shadow, with some sparkle, is allowed, and perhaps a touch of lip gloss. I won’t pretend to know that I know the best way to approach makeup in terms of developmental appropriateness; I’m trying very hard to tread the line with what I think is acceptable, and not squelch the fun you have with it. When asked the other day what you wanted to be when you grow up, you said, “A hair and makeup lady.” Frankly, I think that’s fabulous, and I will champion this path should you someday actually walk it.

You tried out soccer for the very first time, and decided it wasn’t for you. Totally fine. I’m not seeking a legacy in you, nor do I care if you ever love soccer. My girl, I just want you to find something to love, to be passionate about - something to make your own. Gymnastics continues to reign as the desired activity. We took a break for several months, partly because I did not want you to be over-scheduled, but mostly because I wanted to give you an opportunity to try a new sport (soccer), and I wanted to be sure that your participation in gymnastics was because you wanted to be there, and not just because Mama had enrolled you. It’s clear you enjoy bouncing and flipping around. Our living room has become your personal gymnasium, and I chuckle when I see you flip onto the couch, almost knocking the picture frames off the wall. Lucy – it’s as if I’m looking at my past self – I did the very same thing. You have learned how to do a cartwheel, and are working towards a solid handstand.

Pamela Salai Photography
You are so well-immersed in your current pre-school setting; you’re top dog - but the concept of kindergarten has found its way into our world. It’s right around the corner.

This is your final year as a pre-schooler, and while I know you’ll be more than ready to enter the halls of traditional schooling, I understand it’s a little terrifying. You have asked on more than one occasion, “What if I don’t know what to do in Kindergarten?” I try my best to explain that a teacher will be there to help, and that you are a wise girl, and will figure things out as they come, but also that asking for help is all part of the journey.  Next fall will bring big changes, and I will ride them out with you as much as I can, but for the most part, it will be on you, big girl. You will have to navigate new spaces, new friends, and new rules. It won’t all be easy, and some of it may be quite trying. My Mama heart aches knowing this fear floats around inside of you, and I wish with everything to absolve you of this pressure, but I also know it is necessary, and will be good for you. My sweet girl, we only grow when we are pushed outside of our comfort zones.

A month ago I broke my ankle participating in the Tough Mudder. You asked why I had to, “do the race.” My answer was that I do these races because I enjoy challenging myself – this to which you replied, “But you don’t need to challenge your body anymore, because you get boo-boos.” It was sweet and I understand it’s uncomfortable for you to see me hurt, but I needed you to know that this is a fundamental part of who I am. I explained this to you, explained that the fear of getting hurt should never stop you, as it has never stopped me. If I stopped “races” then a part of who I am would cease to exist. I know in your young mind this doesn’t make total sense, but at the very least, I hope you see a Mama who put herself out there, fell hard, and came back to be even stronger. It’s not the fall, Lucy, that defines who we are, but rather the way in which we rise afterwards. We are strong women, cut from the same cloth. We are here to blaze through this world, both warrior and woman.

In June, just a few weeks before I turned forty, we did a photo shoot together. We had such a blast, and I’m so grateful to Pamela Salai Photography for creating and capturing such stunning images. I hope in these you see how good this life really is, how fierce and exquisite you are, and just how much your Mama loves you.

Pamela Salai Photography
You’ve recently taken to falling upon me, hugging and kissing me, and saying, “I just love you so much, and I never want to let you go.” As if my heart could not swell any bigger, I find it doing just that. Growing exponentially, five years and counting. 

There is an image that Pam captured which perfectly encapsulates parenthood. You, twirling in all your tulle and moto jacket glory, and me, your Mama, just slightly behind, looking on in admiration at the remarkable girl you have become.

Someday you will let go, and move on to your own life, but I will always be there. Giving you space to create your world, but always within reach, championing your radiant spirit, always ready for hugs and kisses. And baby, I will always believe you. Always.

Happy Birthday, my sweet Lucille - love, Mama

1 comment:

Alicia Chatkin said...

Happy happy birthday Lucy!! Love your post, Ilene - I'm in tears. Hugs to both of you on this special day!!