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big girl,

Oh how I love this picture. You were going on ten months old. It was your aunt Ceara's wedding day. There you are, bald, bald, bald, and there I am, mid-coiffure, my hair in curlers. We are in the living room of Ashepoo, a place that's very important to our family, and already to you. Usually, we spend your birthday - New Year's Day - there, but not this year. This year, we were home. You've decided that it's pretty cool that you were born on a holiday, that it makes you pretty lucky and unique and I agree.

In the morning, before trips to Build-A-Bear and Toys R Us, we went for chocolate chip pancakes in the place with the "Big Butt Statues" (i.e. @ Landmarc in the Time Warner Center). You are particularly besotted with potty humor these days, with butts in particular. And the awesome news is that now your little sisters are equally intrigued. Fun times. For dinner, you requested McDonald's which made me chuckle. Happy Meals all around. And then there was cake. The cake that Daddy made and you and your sisters helped decorate.

Your sisters? They downright adore you. And not just because of the fact that you are their super-cool big sis, but because you are really their friend. The vast majority of the time, you are exceedingly kind to them, generous with your knowledge and your things and your ideas. More often than not, you are leading an adventure or spearheading a group project or directing a show. They love you and you love them. And this has been nothing short of magic for us to experience, and witness.

Daddy and I often say to ourselves how lucky we are to have you as our first girl. Because you are so unbelievably thoughtful and good and from what we can tell your little apprentices are following suit. Only recently have you begun to show a bit of sass, an irreverence for life and world I can't help but applaud and want to see more of. The truth is that you have been the consummate good girl from day one, a champion sleeper, a true listener, a rule-follower. But it heartens me to glimpse your goofiness, those glimmers of mischief and rebellion in your blue eyes from time to time too; It makes me excited to see who you become, what kind of wonderful trouble you cause.

You are in Kindergarten now. At a school I've loved for a long, long time. And taking you there every morning is nothing short of a gift, a trippy and treasured gift. Part of me is envious that you are there, beginning, becoming. Recently, I came into your class for a holiday party and it was one of the best hours of my year. Trailing around after you, looking at your new little home, your new little friends, all of your beautiful art.

These days. These days, with you, are amazing. There are too many things to tell you, but I will tell you some that stick out. First, at six, you are worlds from bald. Your hair is long and hippie-straight, thick and gorgeous. It is a dark, dirty blond, the color my hair was as a little girl. I ask if you want to cut it and you say no, you like it long. And I do too. It is something of your trademark which makes me smile because I look at that picture above of the baby you, your bald, blonde fuzzy head and it makes me realize how much, and how quickly, things can change.

These days, you are loving soccer and ballet and gymnastics. You are a thinking athlete, graceful. Not long ago, I went to your ballet recital.

And I was impressed with your skills of course, but got an immense kick out of the fact that even when you were performing, and all business, your personality was there, plain as day.

These days. These days, you are all about making things. You grab for the art supplies before we can get breakfast in you. You love to draw people and dinosaurs and ponies. At school, you made sculptures of a turtle and an octopus. In your Kindergarten class, you designed itty-bitty toilets with "gold flushers" as part of your block project.

You have fallen in love with chess. At first, I think the game scared you because it is new and complicated, but one day last month you came home and your eyes were bright and you said you loved it and wanted a chess board and when we said you had to wait until Christmas or your birthday, you pouted some, but then you scurried away and made your own. In an hour. Your own chess board.

Your creativity astounds me.

For years now, you've been making costumes. Out of Mommy's computer paper. And it occurred to me one day that this maybe a real passion budding. I asked if you wanted to learn to sew and oh how your little face brimmed with excitement. This fall, you have taken the wonderful Fashion Forward class after school. For Christmas, Santa brought you a real-deal sewing machine. And in your stocking, he left you a design book.

You have even started drawing designs on your baby sister's diapers.  You whip your sweatshirts into one-shoulder draped masterpieces.

On a recent day, I came home and Nanny told me something. She said that she asked you what you want to be when you grow up. For a long time now, you've been saying an artist, but this time the answer was a bit different. You said: an author like Mommy. I want to make books.

Oh how this made me smile. Not because I want you to do what I do, but because you see that I am doing something, something worthwhile, something that matters. Every night now, we read books and then we tell our Loo Woo Boo stories. You and I have talked about publishing these tales one day, these tales about three girls, three sisters. A dream. Nothing wrong with that. All of this makes me so happy because it seems that you are realizing something it took me a long time to figure out: there is perhaps nothing more satisfying, deeply satisfying, than creating things.

And I should know. You, my girl, my big girl, my sweet and smart and silly six-year-old, my once bald little bundle, are one of my three best creations ever.

Know something: It is a wild privilege to be your mom and I love you more than you will ever know. Keep smiling and making things and everything else will fall into place. I will make sure of it.

I love you, kid. To itty-bitty pieces.

love, mommy

Go on. Wish my girl a happy belated sixth birthday. That, or share your thoughts on the Bachelor. Either way.

Not the Smoothest Start

Saying Goodbye