Today, you are 5. They said it would go by quickly. They were right. As I look upon you on this day, I am filled with awe.
And while it may seem trite, it really is true: my love for you grows stronger with each passing day. I am prouder than words can possibly express to call myself your mom. You are amazing, and I want to take this opportunity to tell you -- and the world -- why.
You are strong.
In your young life you have faced more than your fair share of adversity. You handle it all with such fortitude and grace it blows me away. You never let a challenge or difficulty get in your way. You refuse to allow limitations to stop you. Through it all you keep a positive, can-do attitude.
You are brave.
So very brave, my sweet girl. I hate the things you have had to overcome. Apraxia. Epilepsy. The hard lessons you have learned so young. Death. Dementia. But instead of letting them get you down, you have risen above. Stood tall and stared them down. You take those difficulties, internalize their lessons and continue on a stronger, better person.
You are smart.
I don't just mean you know things. Although you do. Many things. But you also exhibit a wisdom and wit far beyond your years. An understanding of the world that seems uncommon for one so young. You teach me things. And help others see the world from a much needed perspective.
You are inquisitive.
You have a strong desire to learn. The question "Why?" is not enough for you. You don't settle for simple answers. You dig deeper; want to know more. You are constantly on a quest for knowledge. You aspire to make the world a better place, and understand awareness to be the path that will take you there.
You are beautiful.
Some people don't believe in telling young girls they are pretty. I do. But as I often explain, you are also beautiful where it counts the most -- on the inside. Or, as my mom told me growing up, "Beauty is as beauty does." In that respect you are gorgeous, my child. Kind and thoughtful. Compassionate. You display deep empathy for people, animals and the world we live in.
You are loving.
We call you the Hug Monkey. You love to give hugs, and do so freely. You make friends wherever you go. Your compassion and empathy drive you to share love with those who need it most. Family, friends, strangers benefit from your caring. You show others what a difference unconditional love can make.
You are silly.
You love to tell jokes. They don't make much sense, but cause you to dissolve into great fits of laughter. And your laugh is the Single. Greatest. Sound. On. This. Earth. You also remind us of the importance of laughter. And how being silly can make the difficult stuff easier.
You are passionate.
You have intense interests. Strong emotions. An energetic personality that can sometimes overwhelm people. You are fiery and feisty. This will serve you well in life. Strive to learn how to balance your passionate side with your softer one and focus your intensity to make a positive difference.
Next year you will enter kindergarten. And a process will begin that will be ongoing your whole life. You will be bombarded with walls. Boundaries. Stereotypes. The world will try to change you. Shape you into what it thinks you should be. Mold you to be "more like."
Don't let it.
At times, you may feel an internal drive to change in order to fit in. To be pleasing to other people. Meet their expectations. Receive their approval.
Stay true to who you are.
In these early, formative years, you have grown into an exceptional person. Yes, you still have a lot of growing and learning to do. Even with everything you have already faced, your most challenging times are ahead of you. But you have established a very strong foundation.
Hold onto it. Build upon it. Don't let it crumble. Trust in it, and yourself. Use it to steady you as you spread your wings and fly. I love to watch you soar.
Be you, my sweet girl. Always. Just keep on being you.
This post first appeared at The Writer Revived