My Dear Little Alethea,
When did you get so big? Four years ago you filled my belly, and we waited anxiously to meet you. And then, on a clear morning in early Spring, you were born, you "opened your door and came out" as Peregrine so nicely put it. We, of course, can't imagine life without our girl, who is quick to correct us it we call you little. You officially graduated to big girl status when you potty trained, which was a long, long time ago now, over a year. But somehow I never got around to writing you a letter last year, as your baby brother was born just a few days after your birthday.
You've grown and changed so very much since I wrote you this letter two years ago. In many ways you are the same, only somehow more. More you, I suppose, more of the girl you are and the girl you're becoming. I'm so thankful God gave me a girl when He gave me you; youinspire me to be the kind of woman that I hope you become someday. I feel like I should understand you more, because I'm a girl too, when you dissolve into tears at the littlest thing. (Because to be truthful, I have moments when I do that too.) But when you do it, it puzzles me, and I don't really know what to do. I guess that's how Daddy feels when I cry over some little thing, but he's really good at just hugging me and holding me, and I need to remember that it's probably what you need to. Strong arms around you, somewhere to bury your sweet little face, and "something to wipe away your tears" as you often ask while sobbing.
You're sandwiched in between two boys now, and you love them very much. Peregrine is your nearly constant playmate, and you spend much time enjoying each other. You have moments where you don't get along too, plenty of them, but really, you are great buddies. Peregrine, though, is so dominant, that I have to work hard to make sure you don't always live in his shadow. You don't seem to mind, really, but it's good sometimes to see you dancing in your own sunshine. You love your baby Raphael too, and are learning to be gentle with him. You like to stroke his face and hair and croon at him, just like a little mama.
You love your daddy, and often ask me in the morning where he is. At night when he tucks you in he tells you stories that he pulls out of his head. They're pretty funny, some of them. He used to tell you about when you were born "in a swimming pool", and somehow he had you believing you drank orange juice that day! He often used to end your snugly story time by singing "You are my Sunshine". And that was it. You were Daddy's Sunshine, and if anyone else tried to sing that you would say "That's Daddy's song!" Daddy took you on a date recently, just you and him. You were quite pleased, and, true to your generous nature, came home with treats for the rest of us too.
You love all things pink and purple and girly. No one taught you this; you just figured it out somehow. It's fun for me to watch you develop your own interests in spite of the, uh, ratherboyish influence of your brother. You've recently begun to join me in the sewing room, holding pins, helping me feed fabric into the machine, just being with me. You like to help in the kitchen too, and for Christmas we gave you your own set of measuring cups and spoons, a rolling pin, and a cutting board. You were quite pleased, and liked to remind us that they're "real tools, not toys". I love to eavesdrop on you playing with your dolls, making little conversations between them, and singing the songs you make up in your head. For all your make believe play, though, you're very practical. I asked one day if one of your dolls was tired, or something along those lines, and you said "oh, mama, she's just a doll; she's not real." You often make us laugh with the things you say.
Just recently you've become very interested in letters, and the things they spell. You ask me all the time things like "what does c--o-r-n-p-q-r-y spell?" And the other day you took me by surprise when you carefully wrote your name in wobbly letters, all by yourself! And then you told me that on your birthday, you know, since you were going to be four, that you would like to learn to read. And so today, we made letters and I showed you how the sounds make words. You seemed pretty pleased with that. I look forward to lots of learning together with you.
My favorite thing about you though, Poppy Joy, is your generous and thoughtful heart. You are always thinking of ways to bless others, and that in itself is such a blessing. One day you had some stickers, and you wanted to make a birthday card for "the poor", so you proceeded to stick not one or two, but every single one of your stickers on a piece of paper. All that, to bless some nameless person you may have seen holding a sign on some street corner. And you do this sort of thing often, my dear; you lavish your love on others, with no thought for yourself. I pray that you will always be this way, knowing the joy of giving and sharing.
Another thing I love about you is your simplicity. I think you're a minimalist at heart. It's something I want to be, but it's a real struggle; for you, though, it seems to come naturally. We were at a sale the other day where there was a lovely purple stuffed unicorn. You played lovingly with her, (for, of course, she was a her) and then you said something like "but I don't need another unicorn, because I already have one". When I asked you what you wanted to eat on your birthday, and really, I would have made almost any extravagant dish you asked for, you said you'd like oatmeal for breakfast and a fruit bar for snack. And for your special birthday evening, you wanted to play Candyland with all of us. I hope you are always satisfied with simplicity, content with what you have. It's a beautiful characteristic, my little love. Hold onto it, and you will know much joy in this life.
You're changing so quickly, my Poppy Joy girl. Up until not too long ago, you still would come up to me and say "Mama, I want to hold you." It was one of those little phrases, with it's funny word order, that was so endearing, so you, that I couldn't correct it. Now, though, you say "I want to be with you, Mama". I love to be with you too. You are a joy to me and your Daddy. We pray that this year, this fifth year of your life, will be blessed, that you will grow in joy and love, that you will always know that you are loved.
Happy Birthday my girl. I love you so much.