To my sensational 6 year-old,
I can remember how anxious I was when I knew I was pregnant with you, #2. I wondered if I could love you as much as I loved your older sister. I wondered how #1 would adjust to not being the only child anymore, a title which she had enjoyed for 5 years. I wondered how exactly you would fit into our family.
I can still remember the day you were born. It was during the SARS scare so the hospital was basically on lock-down. No visitors were allowed and Daddy was not allowed to stay long after I delivered you. It was just you and me (and hospital staff) for the first 24 hours of your life. As soon as I saw you for the first time, all my fears about not being able to love you enough quickly melted and appeared as illogical qualms. I looked down at you and wondered who you’d become. All we knew about you during that first year of your life was that you had a healthy appetite, inherited my skin – eczema and all, and that you hardly cried.
I can remember watching your big sister get to know you. There was never any jealousy in the early days. She wanted to be my helper and carry you whenever she could. This was the time that she began to spend more time with Daddy playing sports. You were the catalyst that formed the bond between them. As I watched you and your sister together, even when you were too young to really be a playmate for her, I knew I would have more children. It’s not because you were taking care of each other or playing well together, the simple fact was that you had each other.
I can remember seeing glimpses of your future self when you became a toddler. You were quiet even with family but when you giggled, you were able to light up an entire room. You had these large bright eyes that expressed a world of emotions. You loved playing with my jewelry. You tried on my necklaces for hours at a time and you always knew what clothes you wanted to wear. During this time, we also noticed how meticulous and organized you were. You sorted things by colour and size which included things like M&Ms, beads, and your toys. I remember watching you organize beads in order of the rainbow spectrum instinctively at the age of 2.
I can remember your first day at preschool. You were 3 and we thought we did all that we could to prepare you. From our experience with #1, we knew there would be tears for a few days but then we assumed you would adjust well just like your big sister. Boy, did we assume wrong. You were teary almost every day for 6 months and the separation anxiety was more than I was prepared for. This was our first lesson that you all, you sisters, are all very different from another with your own set of strengths and challenges. I soon realized that you became anxious in new situations with new people and especially anxious if you had to face these new encounters without me by your side. Just as you had grown accustomed to preschool, it was time to change up your routine again and start kindergarten. I knew this was not going to be easy but hearing you hysterical for over 3 months every morning was almost more than I could bear. Nothing we did – bribery, routine, a new snack bag, having #1 stay with you in the class for a few minutes before the bell – nothing gave you comfort. Then I found out from your teacher that the tears would stop and start intermittently throughout the day. I hated to see you in so much pain every time we said our goodbyes. How could I convince you that I was always coming back? How could I let you know that every ounce of my heart, every maternal pull, was telling me to just hold on to you forever and keep you safe in my arms and that I desperately wanted to do this every day even though all you heard was, “See you later…I love you…you’ll be ok…”? I couldn’t tell you because I knew, more like I hoped, that leaving you was the best thing I could do for you. The one thing that would get me through the day, where I would torment myself by imagining your face crying out for me as I turned and walked away, was the faith in myself as a mother. I had to trust myself that I raised a strong and resilient little girl who would always be ok, who would know deep down that my love was always there even if I wasn’t.
Today, I see you and can clearly envision the young woman you will become. You have grown so much since that first day of kindergarten. You will be starting Grade 1 in September as a more confident, yet still cautious little girl. There are no more tears before going to school although you still need a few hugs, those silent reassurances, before saying goodbye. This year you have become the big sister that we are very proud of – looking out for the little ones and trying to teach them life skills like what outfits work and how to set the table. We have also seen your silly side emerge when you are in a familiar environment. You still love beautiful things – without desire for acquisition just in appreciation. We see your meticulous side as you make your bed (hospital corners and all) with your tissue box at a perfect right angle to your pillow and in the way you tidy up your side of the room. Your ability to focus on a particular task still astounds us and your tenacity at mastering a skill still delights us. You don’t look for praise or recognition only an acknowledgment that we hear you and see you. Well baby, we see you – we see you when you’re quietly observing a new situation, when you’re intent on creating a masterpiece whether it be a stylish outfit or a detailed drawing, when you act silly with your sisters, when you sleep and can still see that baby from 6 years ago – we do see you and love what we see.
I love you,