You’ve been keeping a countdown for the last twenty one days, but it’s finally here — you are five years old today. For three weeks, you’ve kept us all posted as to how many days remained, and this is the day we’ve all been looking forward to, because your excitement was contagious.
You’re so ready and so happy to be five. “What day is my birthday on?” you asked me a week or so ago. I told you it was on a Tuesday. “So do I start kindergarten on Wednesday?” you asked with pure anticipation. I was sorry to have to break the news that you’d have to wait until September, but you were appeased with the reminder that in between your birthday and the beginning of your much-awaited school career loomed a full spring of baseball and a summer of swimming in the pool. You’re alright with waiting if that’s what you’ll be doing in the meantime.
But oh, you are so ready and so, so happy to be five.
You’d be taller on Tuesday, you told me. You’d be big.
My heart is full as I listen to you describe all the birthday parties you are planning to have — and you are planning to have several. You already invited all 16 kids from your preschool class to come to a birthday party we aren’t exactly having, what with 5 nights a week of sports practices and 4 games on Saturdays these days. We’ll have a cookout one of these weekends and celebrate you and all your wonderfulness, though. And because you are you, that will be enough and you will be overjoyed and everyone around you will smile too because it’s impossible not to smile when you –my happy, joyful, sweet, smiling boy– are happy.
I am struggling with this birthday, though. I cannot lie. It is unfathomable to me, completely and fully, that the youngest person in our family is five years old. Five year olds are big. They are not babies. How, HOW, do I not have any babies anymore? It is too much for me to wrap my mind around, and so I still, and probably always will, refer to you as “the baby”.
Sorry, not sorry.
Five years ago, I had my last baby. We found out I was pregnant with you just days before your oldest sister turned five, in fact. Which means that when we found out you were on the way, the OLDEST child in our family — the oldest of three at the time — was the age you are now. And now you, my last baby, are that same age that I thought of as so big when I found out you’d be completing our little family.
You, my little bug, are joy personified. You always have been. You are friendly and helpful and kind and loving. You make cranky people smile. You wake up in a good mood and even when you do get angry, it’s sort of endearing because you’re not very good at it.
We’ve spent all these days together, you and I, for the last two years as your big brothers and sister went off to school each day. We’ve played more games of Candyland than I wish to remember, gone on more grocery shopping trips than I can probably count, read more books and watched more cartoons and baked more treats than I can say. It’s not always fun, being the one stuck home with boring old mom, because no matter what, I still have to do dishes and fold laundry and cook dinners. And you’re stuck with me, through all that. But you make it all so much better and you are cheerful through it all. Well, through most of it.
I will miss you so much when you go off to kindergarten in the fall. So, so much.
In this last year, you’ve started swimming on your own on the swim team and made it the full 25-meters across the pool (almost) completely unassisted by the end of last summer.
You can do the monkey bars and pump your own swing.
You started Pre-K, and you are thriving in school.
You learned to ice skate.
You learned to ski.
You’re playing, for the first time, on your own baseball team, without your older brother there beside you.
You are reading.
You are growing up, and loving every moment. You are reveling in all of it, and it is a joy to watch you.
Although I want to keep you little, your excitement over all your new accomplishments makes it easier to accept that I cannot.
Although I want to keep you little, it is so much fun to watch you as you get big.
But this I promise: no matter how big you get, even when you are taller than me (and you will be, in the not-too-distant future), you will ALWAYS and FOREVER be my baby.
Happy 5th birthday, my bug. I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart).