Lilly, you are four today.

The older you (and I) get, the less likely it seems that there will be a fifth baby, so each time you leave a phase behind, it’s a little bittersweet. Is it a lot of pressure, sweet girl, to carry all my baby nostalgia? I’ll try to keep that in check.

I won’t say you’re growing too fast. This is the twenty-sixth birthday letter to a child of mine I’ve written, and every time, I’ve told each of you, “You’re growing up just right.” And it’s true. You are. But it just feels so dang fast. Your babyhood and toddlerhood are now pretty fully behind us. How? I feel like I’ve missed a lot. Like you’ve gotten less of me than your siblings did, precisely because you have so many siblings. But even if you’ve gotten less of me (and I’m not sure that’s objectively true), you’ve gotten more snuggles, more attention, certainly more independence, more love, again, because siblings.

They delight in you like your Dad and I do. (Also, everyone else.) And is it any wonder? You’re all giggles and sparkly effervescence. Even in your toddlerest moments, when you yell for something and then yell at whoever gave you the thing you just asked for, we have to hide smiles. And in your sassy moments, when you’re acting like a tiny teenager, your hand on your hip which is popped out just so, you’re hilarious. Between the toddler and teenager moments, we’ve dubbed you “Lilly the Affectionate.” You give “luffs” freely and enthusiastically, stroking cheeks, squeezing necks, burrowing hugs.

Baby (and it’s my prerogative to call you”baby” as long as I want to because I gave birth to you), I love you. I love your funny and your sassy, your sweet and your mad. I really enjoyed your baby- and toddlerhood, but that’s most of all because I love you. You becoming a big girl (“Bagel”? “Pickle”? I truly will mourn the day you learn to pronounce “girrrrl”) doesn’t diminish that in any way. It adds to it. You are growing up just right.

Published by robininalaska

Robin Chapman is a part-time writer, editor, and birth photographer and a full-time imperfect mama, wife, Jesus follower, and normalizer of failure. She’s trying hard to learn how to do this motherhood thing in a way that doesn’t land the whole family in intensive therapy. She has a heart for helping other mamas buried in the little years with hope, humor, and solidarity. You can find her hiding out in the bathroom with an iced dirty chai, writing and editing and making spreadsheets for where she is a cheerleader for mamas, or online looking for grace in her mundane and weird life. She lives in Fairbanks, Alaska with her four delightful (crazy) kids—some homeschooled, some public schooled, some too young for school at all—and her ridiculously good looking husband, Andrew.

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