We are just a couple of days away from your 6th birthday. I remember so clearly how I felt six years ago- impatient, anxious, so ready for your arrival. Every baby is a miracle, but you felt especially like one. Seeing your little round face for the first time was one of the best moments of my life- it was like I had always known you even though it was the first time I was seeing you.
You were the most gorgeous baby. Round, chubby, with big eyes and a gummy smile. I loved holding you, rocking you, singing to you, being your mom. We went to Gymboree, music classes, and library classes where you promptly fell asleep in the middle of an exciting rendition of "Dancing Queen" where the other babies were shaking maracas (or chewing on them).
Leaving you to go back to work was one of the hardest things I ever did. I remember that first rainy morning, when you were 11 months old, and I had to hand you to a woman I never saw before in the daycare drop off room. I had taken you several times over the summer so both you and I would be comfortable with your new school. I knew who your teachers would be, but this morning, they were not in sight at early drop off. I was returning to teaching after a year off with you and needed to get to work. You cried as I tried to hand you to the lady, trying to hold onto me. I steeled myself that I had to leave quickly- it would be best for you and me- and felt numb walking out.
As the year went on, I saw many happy pictures of you and the other babies painting, playing, and enjoying your routine. It was okay, but didn't make saying goodbye to you each day any easier.
When I found out I was pregnant with your sister, a blessing that was also a complete surprise, I had mixed feelings at first. You were my world- how could I ever love anything else as much as I love you? You were so young- not even two years old when I found out I was pregnant. I wouldn't have timed it that way, but life has its own plans.
Saying goodbye to you on the night we left to have Megan was so hard. You were happy to go have a sleepover with Naya, but I felt sad as I said goodbye, knowing life would change forever with the addition of our newest family member.
It was hard for you at first- you didn't speak to me the first day I came home with Megan. But as you grew more comfortable with having a little sister, you came to be her biggest entertainer. She called you "Agex" and looked for you all the time. She still looks to do just what you do, wants to have everything you have and catch up to you.
Alex, you will be 6 in a couple of days. This past summer, I saw you grow and shine in new ways. As you graduated preschool, you proudly sang, "The Best Day of My Life" and "Rainbow Connection" with gusto. You easily adjusted to camp and became a swimming pro, where just last summer you clung to the railing of the pool and refused to go in. This year, I watched you jump off a diving board, backwards, and tumble your way to a yellow-belt at tae kwon do and I knew you were coming into your own.
You've been in kindergarten for a month now and I am so proud of how you've acclimated to your new school, the new routines and your new teacher. You have so many friends and are well-liked. You are funny, playful, a great climber- but what's more, you are kind. You look to include others. You care about how people feel. This, I am most proud about.
My heart is so full and there is so much I want to say. The news has been full of such heart-breaking stories- an adorable 6 year old boy shot and killed as he walked onto his school's playground, a mother killed by a train moments after dropping her baby off at daycare. I am so aware that life is uncertain and often unfair and my mind has been spinning with the unthinkable possibility of losing you or something happening to me, where I'd be gone from your life. These thoughts keep me awake at night. Why would we get a happy life when so many others don't? Why should I think that we will be okay when the other parents all thought that before they had tragedy strike their families?
These are not thoughts I can share with you, and these are not thoughts I want to be thinking as we prepare to celebrate your birthday.
And, so, as you turn six, my Alex- I want you to know that you were what I always wanted but were more than I ever expected. You have filled my heart with unimaginable joy. Parenting isn't easy and there are moments of worry and frustration, but I would never trade it for anything. I am so proud of you and love you with everything I am. I can't wait to have a happy celebration this week as you turn six years old.