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On Your 5th Birthday

Dear Caroline,

5 year old in beautiful dress

This is my last year with you home. I feel like next year is the start of the fast paced craziness of school days and activities, and before I know it I’m going to blink and you will be 18. I know that probably sounds dramatic, but oh my gosh, it feels ever so true.

This year in particular has been a hard mix of you wanting independence, but still needing our comfort and approval to feel secure.

I’ve always read that tantrums and fits start to diminish at this age. For you, for us… it’s increased in this year. It’s spiked and been a very hard emotional year for all of us.

I hate that. I hate that it’s been hard on you. And that’s the reality. It’s been hard for YOU. It doesn’t really matter how hard it is on us. The emotional outbursts from you are a sign that things are hard for you.

You are wanting be all grown up. You are wanting to make your own decisions. You are wanting complete independence. But you are 5. And so that obviously doesn’t make sense. We try to allow you as many choices as we can, but there are still times that it’s hard for you.

You are FULLY aware of every sensation and feeling in your body. You are aware of every emotion. You have so many feelings. And when you feel so much, the outbursts are bound to happen.

The irony of it all is that I think you are well beyond your years with your knowledge and understanding of your sensations and emotions, but you are also 5. And so your control of it isn’t always there. I think the awareness almost heightens your emotions and causes bigger outbursts.

We’ve learned over the last year that you are a Highly Sensitive Child.

We all worked so hard this year to figure out what that means for you, how your brain works, and start to correct OUR reactions to you. We’re changing our conversations to help you more.

It’s been and still is quite the learning curve for us, but we are doing our best. We want to support you the best way we can.

Some things are getting harder as you get older.

So while I feel like most parents start to see a decline in the hard times, our difficulties feel like they are growing. And our toolbox is having to grow as well.

I don’t feel like I’m doing a good job most days. But I know I’m trying my best for you and I always will.

This year has also been incredibly special. Your baby brother was born right after you turned 4. This year has been amazing.

Watching the love pour out of you is beyond words. I can’t even describe how special it is to see you interact with William. You are a phenomenal big sister, and you have a talent for teaching. You love sitting down with him and teaching him everything you know.

On Your 5th Birthday

You are patient with him and so thoughtful.

Then you get annoyed with him as all big sisters do. Don’t worry. You can love him and be bothered by him all at the same time. You do a great job managing this most days.

I am the little sister, so I won’t quite ever fully know the annoyance that a little sibling brings on, but I know I brought my fair share.

This year it feels like you are being pulled in two directions- one to grow up, and one to stay little. You want to shop for your own clothes and make sure you have your style represented. And you want us to carry you “like a baby” to bed at night. You want to have play time together as much as possible, but then you want your room time extended.

I love watching you grow up, but I also want to bottle up the little and keep it forever. I know there is going to come a day- soon- that you won’t want me to hold you anymore. You won’t ask to be carried because your feet hurt. You won’t ask for extra snuggles.

On Your 5th Birthday

Caroline, you are amazing. Hard times, good times, fun times, sad times- through it all you teach me so much. You make me want to be a better person, and that’s what love is all about. We push ourselves to be better for each other, and we are suddenly very aware of our misdoings. I want you to know that I will never be perfect, but I will try so hard to be the perfect mom for YOU.

You love school. Absolutely love it. You love learning, but you also get frustrated with it. You like to do things perfectly, so when that doesn’t happen it upsets you. I know you will find a way to manage this as you grow and learn how capable you are, and how amazing you do at everything you try.

On Your 5th Birthday

You have such a big heart and you love hard. You like to have a couple of close friends- even one. You cherish your friendships and I know you will be a lot like me, in that you will give your all. You’ll get hurt as a result, but gosh it’s so good to love hard. I’m so glad your heart is so big and so kind.

You enjoy math a lot right now and always tell me about math centers at school.

You are in an inclusion Pre-K program. You’ve noticed the kids that are different and categorized them as so when you are speaking. And I’ve been amazed at the kind language that you use when you classify the kids in class.

It’s normal to notice the differences, and I’ve loved that you notice and ask appropriate questions. And I love that you are so inclusive. You light up when you see one little boy at school. He can’t verbalize much, but he smiles when he sees you. I know that you’ve made a difference in his experience at school. Your enthusiasm to see him shines through and he notices. I notice that big heart of yours.

You love all things Frozen. You went to see Frozen II for your birthday with Daddy. Every time I ask you if you’d like to do something with the whole family, or have a special Caroline moment, you always say the whole family. But I know this night was special for you to do something with Daddy all by yourself.

On Your 5th Birthday

You are so family focused. Last week we had to take William to the emergency room. It did NOT make sense for you and Daddy to come. It was late. It was going to be past your bedtime, and it was going to be a lot of just waiting around doing nothing. You insisted. You reminded us that we always stick together and do things together. You said you thought William would be comforted by you there.

And so we all went. And you were right. It was so helpful to have the whole family together. Thank you for insisting that we stick together. It’s what we do best.

Caroline, you might have hard times, but those hard times are because you are so passionate about everything. My word for my life…if I had to pick one it has always been “passionate.” And I would give you that word as well.

It’s going to make things tough at times. It’s going to allow people to take advantage at times. I’m trying to raise you to stand up for yourself more than I did, but to still keep that love and passion.

I’m fiercely aware of the passive side of myself, and I want to empower you to be more assertive. As a result, I’m having to actually be more assertive myself. It’s hard. It’s uncomfortable for me, but it’s something that I know I must do so you see my actions match my words.

It seems to come natural for you, which I just love.

You are this perfect mix of passion, stubborn, kind, thoughtful, and blunt. I hope you always keep those qualities. You are incredible.

You love dresses and skirts, but also love to wrestle and play outside. You are at your happiest when you are outside. It doesn’t matter the weather. I need to remind myself to get us out there more even in the cold, because it’s our happy place.

On Your 5th Birthday

Right now, you’ve told me that you don’t want to have children when you grow up. You are also planning on never moving out of our house. You are hoping that William wants to stay as well, since you will be here.

You don’t like loud places and chaos. You don’t even like to be sung to on your birthday. You are learning to identify your needs, and voice your needs to others.

I’m really excited and also scared for this next year. If I hold on a little too tight, forgive me. I am not ready for Kindergarten. I am not ready for our next phase. But I know it will be amazing because everything you do is stunning and beautiful to watch.

I love you. Kisses for a lifetime.

Love, Mama.

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