Continuing an annual tradition, Emily Jade writes a heartfelt letter to her daughter on her fourth birthday.
Dear Millie Valentine,
Four years ago, my only child was born. Those words bring me both joy and a little puncture right in my heart. “My only child was born.”
You were born to help us appreciate the little things in life. Like the sleep your father and I used to have before you insisted on wedging yourself sideways between us every single night. As you fall asleep, you beg, ‘Cuddle me, mama’, and won’t drift off unless both your father and I are touching you. The truth is, it’s pure bliss; I’d take a strawberry-scented, snorey, wriggly, snuggly little you over sleep every day forever and ever.
But is it a coincidence that only rhymes with lonely? You have asked for a little brother or sister for your birthday. Desperate as we are, we just can’t give you that. I hope you haven’t asked because you are lonely, but because your big little heart simply has more love to give.
On the precipice of your fourth birthday, the ‘why’ stage is in fifth gear. Your thirst for knowledge is as exhilarating as it is exhausting. You wring the ‘why’ out of every situation and the only way to halt the onslaught of whys is… Phenergan. I’m kidding, but the only time you don’t ask ‘why’ is when you are sleeping.
I literally see your brain expanding in front of my very eyes after every ‘why’, and it’s my pleasure to help you try and make sense of this wonderful world. After I told you that we were having trouble making a brother or sister for you and we got to the end of the difficult ‘why’s, you asked for a Piggy Pig instead. I can’t wait to give you a guinea pig for your birthday. But only one — I don’t want their breeding ability to show up your father and I.
Sadly in your fourth year you have had to deal with death, losing our beloved Libby Dog and your beautiful Nan. While we wept, you brought us beauty. We told you they went to live in the clouds, and when you saw the suns rays shining through them, it was Nan and Libby Dog saying hello. Now you look forward to cloudy days, and it’s not uncommon to see and hear you at sunset with your little face looking up at the golden skies yelling ‘Hi, Nan!’
This time last year you were running as fast as your little legs could carry you. This year it’s somersaults. Taking you to gymnastics, or nim-nastics as you call it, was the best thing we could have done for you. Watching you (while you watch us to make sure we are watching you) do gymnastics makes me burst with pride. You are just so happy when you’re in class. I’m proud that I can facilitate that, proud you have found something you love, and proud that you now do perfect little somersaults everywhere you go. Maybe you could consider Mummy’s anxiety levels and cease doing them near sharp edges, on couches placed on tile floors, and down slippery slides.
Your other big love is colouring. Your Kindy teachers are trying to limit your colouring because, given the chance, you would do it eight hours a day. They were worried you weren’t making friends with your head always down furiously colouring in the lines. Your solution to the problem? Insist your dad print out a My Little Pony picture for every kid in the class that you all sat down and coloured together. Now every parent is sending their kid to school with pictures for you all. Our house is plastered with princesses and super heroes and you can name every little human every picture represents because they are all your friends.
You are everything I hoped you would be. You sing, you dance, and play pretend. Our house is an explosion of arts, crafts, costumes and tea parties. You are expressive, passionate and determined. Your love of life and people explodes out of you, and like a bottle of broken glitter, it spills everywhere and sticks to everything and you can’t help but smile when you see it sparkle.
Last year I couldn’t wait for the terrible twos to be over. This year I want you to stay like this forever.
Happy Birthday, my one and only.