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Big Girl,

On New Year's Day, you turned five. And it was a wonderful day. A day I have no doubt I will remember. And maybe you. This amazes me and delights me, that you have entered the terrain of memory, that these are days and moments that might just stick with you. I hope you remember bits and pieces of last Sunday because it was a good one.

In the morning, Daddy and I gave you a present. A silly little Hello Kitty tutu-costume-thing. And when you saw it, your face lit up and you stripped down and tried it on. It fits so perfectly, you declared. You announced that you would wear it all day.

But first, you tried on your other gift. We also gave you and your sister matching Hello Kitty nightgowns. Indeed there was a theme to this day. You both tried them on and then you stood side by side and held hands. You should know that you are a very good big sister. Generous, protective, loving, challenging.

Back in your tutu-dress-number, we took a trip to the stable to visit old Honey. You and your sister stood in the sunlight, feeding the old lady wedges of apple, watching her chew.

After lunch, I got a huge treat. With the promise of staying up late to celebrate, you curled up for a nap beside me. We snuggled as you drifted off. And I watched you sleep, your sweet face framed by a mess of dark blond curls.

In the afternoon, we went swimming. Little Girl and I hung back watching you girls skip along that little paved path where I once skipped as a girl.

You were off to find your suit. Determined, independent, a little and big person. My little and big person.

I watched you splash about. Smile. Relish. Live.

In the evening, before dinner, I captured you in a hug on that famous bright yellow couch. I kissed the back of your head and thought, Five years. My goodness, five years.

You ate your nuggets and spicy rice. And then there was cake. Hello Kitty again.

Let's just say: you somewhat enjoyed it.

Let's also just say: it was a really good day. A simple day. A day of family, of fun, of frolic. For me, your mom, it was a day of taking stock. Of the years that have piled up, swiftly and surely and sublimely. Of that tricky thing we call Time. Of that magical mix of memory and longing and love.

Of You. The creature you have become, and are becoming. Of your bright blue eyes, and your keen sense of kindness. Of your intelligence, already unique and robust. Of your sensitivity and strength, your willingness to hug me and hold my hand and climb into bed next to me even though you are getting big. Of your long limbs and quirky qualms and big questions. Of that exquisite head of hair of yours, locks tumbling down and twisting whimsically. I will have to cut it one of these days, my girl. Probably before you turn six.

But not yet. Not yet.

I love you, my first girl, my Big Girl. You know this. I see it in your eyes when I look at you, when I pick you up and twirl you wildly, when I kiss your soft cheeks over and over and over at night. But if I have learned anything, anything at all in the last five years, it is that you can never say them enough, or show them enough, those three little words, those three big words.

I love you.

To pieces, my girl. To pieces.

Ten Months Today

On Being Shallow