And now we have Shawn. Who didn't even flinch when I told him to just sit down and wait for me to need him to something this weekend. Who ran out late at night to replenish our supply of dum-dums for lollipop trees and knew not to take it personally when I repeatedly criticized his balloon placement. He has been so patient with me and with you, letting me figure out how to function as one half of a pair as opposed to "alone". And gently reminding me always that he wasn't going anywhere.
This weekend we celebrated your birthday party. I spent three days shopping and crafting and generally making myself crazy. The night before, I was up past midnight trying to make sure everything was perfect.
It honestly didn’t occur to me that all my preparation had gotten a little out of hand. This year, there were a couple of well-intended comments by friends, wondering when you would be “too old” to want that kind of themed family party. Shawn told me he had warned Vavo that I took your birthday parties “kind of seriously”. Up until that moment, I didn’t know that the event required a warning label.
It made me stop and think about exactly why it is that I lose my mind over planning parties for you.
I think it's because when it became just you and I, against the world…I felt like I had something to prove. I wanted the world to know that even when it may have seemed like I was totally and completely falling apart I could pull myself together and throw you an amazing, “pinterest worthy” party. I wanted people to believe I could do it all, alone.
But the thing is, Gracie…we were never really alone. Every year, Auntie has been right by my side; creating a plethora of all pink baked goods and staining her hands in the process, trying to stick cotton candy on top of pretzel sticks to make “truffula tree” cupcakes and close to burning her apartment down making blue candy for Elsa’s castle. Without many complaints (but with demands for wine and red bull), she has spent countless hours helping to make you day as perfect as I dream it.
And then there are Mimi and Grampa. They open up their home and host. They scrub floors and clean the kitchen. They tolerate me snapping at them no less than 15 times in the three hours directly leading up to your party. Never mind just your birthday…it’s the quiet ways they’ve been showing up for the past 6 years that count the most.
Every year, I think that this must be the year that there will be less people who come to your party. You’re getting older (against my very clear and loud verbal wishes) and life has gotten busier and busier for the people that we love. And yet. They keep showing up. They carve precious time out of their weekend and they show up to celebrate you.
This year has been a big one for us. You started school. We moved to a new town, a new home. Our immediate family doubled, to include a dog and a Shawn. Our extended family grew too and they didn’t hesitate one minute falling in love with you, enveloping you into their fold like you had always been there. This is something I don’t have the words to express gratitude for.
I guess this is the one thing I’d like to share with you, at the very beginning of your 6th birthday. That there will be moments in your life when you feel like you’re alone. Loneliness that feels so scary and so certain that it must be real. And the truth is, you need me less and less with each passing minute. You’re reading on your own and riding your bike and rolling your eyes at me. You’re walking up the stairs and into your kindergarten classroom hand in hand with your “bestie” while I linger dejectedly on the sidewalk, pretending like me watching you walk away is somehow keeping you safe.
You’re doing so many things on your own already. But becoming capable of doing great things on your own isn’t the same as being alone.
You’re smarter than I could have imagined and you make me laugh every single day. You’re sweet in the most surprising ways like insisting I use your special blanket when I’m sick. You are only the teeniest bit cautious and then completely fearless in the same moment. You love people to the tips of your toes and are kind to everyone that crosses your path.
So in the moments when life leaves you a little broken hearted (unless you allow me to lock you inside the house until you're 45 or so, this unfortunately will happen), when you feel like the world has totally given up on you…
The people who matter will keep showing up. In big huge ways and in teeny tiny ways. In nagging ways that seem like complete and totally annoyances but are really created from love.
And I’ll be first in line.
Happy sixth birthday to the very best thing to ever happen to me.