Today you turn six. SIX! I'm sure it's the kind of thing mothers say every year to their growing children, but I just can't believe how fast the years have passed! It seems like one minute ago you were standing in the second floor kitchen of our town house in Maryland with those corkscrew curls barely crazing your shoulders, wearing a diaper and shouting the lyrics to Queen's We Will Rock You as loudly as you could. MUD ON YOUR FACE! SAY IT! And then I blinked...and you are six.
Ellie, I want you to print this letter out, fold it up and put it somewhere where you can always read it, and if there ever comes a time (and if you turn out to be anything like me, there will be) that you feel misunderstood and wild and rebellious and you think you hate me, pull it out and read it and try to remember this time in your life when everything was so simple and pain was only from falling off your bike, not breaking your heart.
You are wise and rowdy and shy and outspoken all at once. You can't hold still for more than a second and I like to joke that you and your father have the metabolisms of hummingbirds but I think it's true too. I have had to relegate you to the floor more times than I can count for watching TV while doing a handstand...on the sofa. You aren't afraid of anything and even if you were I don't think you would let us know. You got attacked by bees and ate the asphalt with your face after falling off of your bike all in a couple weeks of each other and you were running barefoot through the grass and riding your bike again the very next day. You got moxie, kid. I want to be more like you.
Ellie, my mom has always been my best friend (well, except for those awful years I alluded to earlier) and now you are becoming mine. We have these conversations and I honestly feel as if I am in the presence of a peer. But then again I have never really felt like you were a baby or a kid. When you were born and your father was deployed and it was basically just you and me, I used to peer as deeply as I could into the cavernous expanse of your eyes and I could swear I saw something so profound it scared me. You are an old soul, and I feel as if your body is just slowly catching up to that person who has always been inside of you.
Your reading has really taken off this year and you have subsequently discovered texting from the iPad. Couple this with your kindergarten sized potty mouth and I now have the word "poop" in my phone more times than I care to count. The same goes for Both Grandmas, an aunt and your father, but you find it endlessly hilarious. I told you to cut it out or I would stop texting you and you then notified me that "Poop" means "I love you" in Ellie language. I then told you that apparently the toilet is saying how much it cares because someone forgot to flush. If you don't grow up to full of snarky wit, I'll never know why.
Your cat ran away recently and we all held out hope she would return (well, I only kind of did...she was evil). For nights you prayed that she would come back and even now every time you hear her name or see a picture of her you begin to cry the most heartbreaking cry. It is the greatest pain of your short life so far and as much as I hated that wretched animal, if trudging through the spider infested jungle at midnight would bring her back I would...but please don't ask me to do it. I begged your father to let me get you a kitten for Christmas and he reminded me of how much I dislike the end result of kittens: CATS. I said I didn't care, I couldn't bear to see you cry again, but he still said no. (just remember that when you're sixteen and looking for someone to be mad at.) Ellie, I would get you a whole box overflowing with kittens in every imaginable color if it would take the hurt away, but ultimately I know your daddy is right. So instead I hold you and stroke your hair and try to absorb all the hurt from your heart...and then I promise you a pony one day. One day.
Today you are six and I know in ten years you will be sixteen and I will feel like I just blinked again and POOF! you're grown. But please know this Elsbeth, of all the things I hold dear, more than the shiny things you love to admire on my nightstand, more than anything I possess, I treasure these small moments that turn into days that turn into years and ultimately memories. They are my treasures and I am so thankful that you were added to our lives.