Katherine turns 6

Hey, spunky girl.

I love you to bits. You know that, right? The sprinkle of freckles on your nose that you got from me and I got from your Grandpa. The resentful, huffy way you put your glasses on your face. The songs you make up when your baby sister goes to bed.

Baby Lilly, I love you so much
Sometimes you hurt me
and sometimes you cry
and sometimes you’re just ANNOYING,
But you’re my family, so I still love you
more than anybody else
who’s not in my family…

And then there’s the one that you made up a few months ago that you sing almost every night, without pesky hindrances like, say, words that make sense or a fixed key:

The mountains are quiet
The hills are bright
The sun beats powerfully on its little light
So sleep, sleep, little one
Sleep, sleep, little one
Sleep, sleep, little one, sleeeeeeeeep.

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Photo: Sarah Lewis Photography

Seriously, kid. Where do you come up with these? But you sing them with every ounce of earnestness you have which, believe me, is a lot. Every time I try write down the things you say, I have to use caps lock for about half of your words. Because you JUST have SO MUCH to SAY and it’s ALL so VERY IMPORTANT. There’s NOT A THING that comes out of your mouth that you don’t COMPLETELY OWN. You are ALL IN.

All in.

That basically sums you up, Katherine. And I adore you. This year, we’ll keep working to make that enthusiastic will of iron work to your advantage, okay? I see benefits already.

A couple weeks ago, it was Mother’s Day. I opted out of church because I’m a big ball of neuroses about this particular holiday and we went to a playground instead. I heard a boy say something truly awful to you:

“Your mom doesn’t even want you. Not really.” 

At first, I thought I misheard. Surely he said watch and he was commenting on my parenting (happy Mother’s Day to me), but we talked later and I learned that this isn’t the first time he’s tried to convince you that I don’t care about you.*

You are unfazed. Bless your oppositional little heart. I love this about you. You’re so sure of your place in your mama’s heart that there’s NO WAY this insecure child is going to get into your head or under your skin.  I don’t want him saying it to you, and we talked about it for a bit, but I’m floored by how legitimately fine you are. You remind me of your daddy. He knows who he is and he’s not especially bothered by people who don’t. (It’s not like this is the first time I’ve seen the similarities between you and him.)

I wish I were more like you.

Katherine, you are strong and you are brave and you are generous. (You keep giving your favorite buddies away to your siblings, certain that they’ll be as blessed as you are by your stuffed cheetah. You give gifts that cost you, and I love seeing your heart in this.) You are growing in self-control and wisdom and truth.

You’re a force, little girl. You’re going to change the world.

I know this already and you are only six. (Shoot, I’ve known it since you turned three.)

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Use your powers for good, not evil, okay? I know you can. I know you will. And I love you always. You’re growing up just right.


*side note for those following along at home: please don’t get too bent out of shape about this. It’s an awful thing to say, but I know just enough of this kid’s story to believe that he’s just transmitting his own stuff. We choose grace (with boundaries) and I look for a chance to speak life to this boy.

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Katherine’s fifth birthday

Hello, darling!

I just reread through last year’s letter, curious how things have changed in the last 365 days.

Mostly, you have become more you. And I know that’s how it goes, but it’s fun to see you become. You are a delight. You’re full of fire, light, spunk, and determination. There is might and sweetness. There are cuddles and fits. Your skin is still baby-soft and your grin is as impish as ever. You fear almost nothing right now, which is both beautiful and terrifying to your mama.

Sweet girl, a few weeks ago, you and Jenna got into a discussion in the car. Jenna asked which parent she was most like (me) and you asked, too (your daddy.) Then Jenna, being Jenna and the oldest and sometimes less than gracious, was taunting you, holding over your head that she was more like me than you.

You spent the next several days doing and saying things, followed by “am I acting like you, mama?”

It was both flattering and heartbreaking.

I told you this then, but I want to have it in writing:

I don’t want a version of you that is more like me.

I mean, in the ways I’m growing to be like Jesus, by all means… follow me as I follow Him. But in all the other things?

I want YOU. Just you. The you-est version.

I know it’s not always easy to be you. You’re close enough to your sister to feel compared to her frequently, but tailing her by just enough that you feel less-than. (For the record, I don’t see you as less than Jenna.) Your personality is big and your feelings are big and your voice is big and your impulse control isn’t quite developed yet and that causes some friction.

Can I be honest with you? I am ever so excited to see what all of that means as you grow up.

You’re strong and fierce.

That makes you challenging to parent, but it also means you are going to be unstoppable as a big person. (Well, you’re basically unstoppable now.) And now, while you do the hard work of pointing all that strength and fierceness in the right direction, you manage to be delightful and hilarious.

I adore you, my girl. You’re growing up just right. I’m praying for you this year, that you grow in grace and wisdom and self-control. You’re doing a good job.

 

they draw me smiling

(photo credit: Sarah Lewis)


I’m not the Super Fun Mom.

I am not, in fact, a super smily mom.

I’m super sensitive, easily overwhelmed, and have, in the last couple of years, been prone to depression and anxiety in ways I haven’t dealt with since before my oldest was born. I am pretty much winging it here.

I pray a lot.

I try really hard.

And a lot of times, I’m still just not that good at it.

My target is always “calm, compassionate, consistent.” But I fall short of that all. the. time. I’m forever apologizing to my kids.

My oldest gets the brunt of this. Jenna’s amazing and kind and lovely. She’s also so much like me. Because we’re so similar, her tendencies irritate me much more quickly than, say, her little sister. (Katherine is so very much like her dad, and he tends to have just a little less patience for her, not so surprisingly.) So I frequently find myself examining my own heart (unfortunately after I’ve acted) and finding my selfishness and irritability hurt my sweet girl. Again. So… another chance to model apology! Hooray!

It’s okay. God is making me and my kids into the people He wants us to be. I’m growing and stuff. (Yay.) But sometimes I’m discouraged by how hard it is to be the mama I want to be.


You know where I’m finding grace in this fight?

The girls’ artwork.

They’re forever drawing us, or random representations of us. (“Look, mom! We’re all fairies!” …or jack-o-lanterns, caterpillars, butterflies, flowers, or cats.) My life is a constant fight to figure out which drawings are going to be important and which I can bury in the trash ASAP, which sounds awful, but we’re talking dozens some days. It’s a lot of paper, and I can’t save or display it all.

And in every single picture they draw that contains me?

I’m smiling.

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(This isn’t the only way they know how to draw faces. They draw mad people. Just not mad people in our family.) 

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This is so encouraging to my heart. I’m praying this is what they remember. That, rather than all the times I screw up (which seem so prevalent to me), they see that I love them and they delight me. That they look back and see the lovely.

I’m praying that His grace covers my (myriad) mistakes.


This post is part of the write31days challenge… I’m trying to post every day in October. Or, you know, lots of days in October. The rest of the posts can be found here.

it’s your day, Baby K!

Hey, Katherine!

Today is the day we celebrate four years with you! Okay, I lie. You think that your day was yesterday. I didn’t lie to you, exactly… but I may have told you “Woohoo! Today’s the day we’re celebrating the day you were born!” Which was true. Because Daddy’s out tonight, so we did our celebrating early, so he wouldn’t have to miss it.

Anyways. 

I kind of like having a day to celebrate you privately. To reflect on your teeny self when you were born and all the ways you’ve grown. You’re such a blessing to me. You delight me and challenge me and baffle me. This makes so much sense to me, because you’re very, very like your dad, and he delights, challenges, and baffles me all the time. He has for years.

You have the mind of a tiny engineer and the heart of a sprite. You must know how things work. You’re fascinated by everything and not afraid of anything. You have an irresistible drive to deconstruct. But also you have an irrepressible sparkly smile and a crazy sense of humor and a contagious giggle. You are  so spunky and goofy. Hilarious. And you’re always moving. I can’t believe how many pictures I’ve gotten of you this month, but when I look through them, I guess I can. Most of them are when you’ve been settled. Doing something, watching something, eating something… in the picture above, you were… on the toilet. (Sorry.) (But look how cute you are!) It’s not easy to catch you still enough to get a good picture. (Even that one isn’t a good picture, as pictures go. But it’s still one of my favorites.)

I was blessed lately by a review from your teachers at forest school. It was so much fun to hear how other adults see you. It made me laugh out loud to read “Katherine never (ever, ever) takes the easy path.” You have GRIT, little girl. You’re mighty. I’m so excited to see the places God takes you. It’s not easy to know how to guide you with this amount of grit, honestly, but your dad and I pray for wisdom to do just that all. the. time.

There’s so much I love about who you are right now. I love your grin and that dimple that shows up on your right cheek from time to time. I love your independence and your inquisitiveness. I love your Katherinese. I think your speech issues are my fault (because moms) because I didn’t heed advice about sippy cups and you can’t quite get your tongue out from between your teeth when you talk. I really think you’ll figure out how to say all the sounds eventually, but dang, it’s cute. So I’ll keep working with you a little at a time, but I sure enjoy it for now. I love your enthusiasm about… everything. When you speak right now, about a third of your words are definitely in ALL CAPS. Also, as much trouble as it causes, I love your undying devotion to Wil Fedadoh… the tiny puppy you took from Brian before he was born but now cannot live without. You love her so much you daily hide her from “monstoes” for her protection… and then can’t remember where to find her.

I sure love you, baby girl. You’re not so much of a baby anymore. You’re growing up just right, and I’m excited to see you keep becoming more you this year. I love that I get to be your mama.

 

And then there’s how much your brother loves you…

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..and the way Jenna sees you. She took these-

You are loved, darling girl. Happy birthday.

 

 

love letter to a three-year-old

Hey, Baby K.

You’re three!

This is the part where I exclaim, “I can’t believe you’re three!” except… I totally can. You don’t seem very two to me anymore. I mean, there are a lot of moments where I can still see the baby in you, but you’re less and less of a toddler and more and more of a preschooler. Three is a big year. You’ve said repeatedly, “I’m gonna grow to a hundred and then I’ll go to Cubbies with Jenna!” Well, you don’t have to grow to a hundred. This is the year! You get to go to Cubbies! And to swim lessons! We may start a little bit of school stuff, too. Just for fun.

You fascinate me, little girl. You’re such a mix of extremes. I mean, there’s the expected mix of baby and big girl going on… you chatter on about all kinds of things like a big girl would, using some huge words, but you still have a lot of your baby sounds. (My current favorites are “polliwog” and “authority.” I’m sorry you’re a little annoyed that I keep asking who has authority over polliwogs. It’s just so darn cute to hear you say, “Powwywogs have afoditty ovo demthelf!”)

You’re really a funny mix of outgoing adventurer and total introvert. Sometimes you want to be the center of attention and you talk loud and proud at anyone nearby and climb things not meant to be climbed by people under four feet tall. But then I see you tuck yourself away in the background, just watching. I love learning when you do which. I love watching you kind of figure out your world and where you want to be in it.

You can be stubborn to the point of defiant. Except when you aren’t. Sometimes you’re so quick with a “yes, Mom!” and you scamper off to do whatever it was I asked. And then there are the other times. For the record, you come by it honestly. It absolutely comes from your daddy… I still have all of mine. Your stubbornness will become an asset before long, but I’m sorry this part is difficult. I promise to do what I can to help that happen, but that means some challenges up front for us both. It’s OK. I love you plenty for that. I’m praying that you become stubborn in doing what’s right. I’m imagining that in a few years, you’ll be a really good influence on kids around you, because you’ll be holding on to what you know is right, regardless of what everyone else is doing. There will be some kids nearby who know what they should be doing, but are afraid to stand alone. I doubt very much that you’ll be afraid to stand alone. And in doing what’s right, you’ll help those other ones do what’s right, too. I like your stubborn. I know it doesn’t always feel that way, but I really do.

I’m praying for you this year, baby girl. Praying that Jesus continues to draw your heart. That you learn that being stubborn isn’t worth it when you’re doing what’s wrong. That your friendship with your sister grows and your care for your baby brother continues and becomes gentle. That your relationship with your daddy continues to bloom. And I pray for me. Because I’m the mama, I’m with you the most when you’re pushing lines need someone to help you learn how to use your stubborn for good. I pray that I don’t get tired of teaching and start letting you slide… that wouldn’t serve you at all, as much as you think that’s what you want. And I pray that when I’m teaching you, I would do it with a heart that is for you and that you would see that.

I love you, kiddo.

I love your spunk and your adventure and your silly and your stubborn. You’re likely to hear “She’s growing too fast!” tonight, and they say that because they love your little self and it’s hard to see you leaving your little behind. I get that. I held you a long time last night, knowing I wouldn’t get to hold a two-year-old you ever again. But hear me loud: You’re growing just right. You’re lovely. I wouldn’t trade you for anything. Not even a version of you that stayed small forever.

I love who you’re becoming.