To Adleigh on Your Fifth Birthday

Dear Adleigh,

Can you believe you are FIVE? So many of the days spent before turning four you kept saying “I’ll miss being three!” Now you are saying “Mama, I’ll miss being four!” You had a great time being four! I know five is going to be different but you’ll continue to laugh, grow, and make memories that you will have for the rest of your life.

It’s so unfortunate that some of your first memories are going to be of COVID. It breaks my heart that your first year of preschool was cut short, that you constantly ask “is that clean?” before you touch anything, and that you haven’t been able to give your precious “Adleigh hugs” to friends and family in so many months. We are incredibly lucky that COVID hasn’t personally harmed our family, so many people have lost their jobs or loved ones, we have just been inconvenienced, but it has fundamentally changed how your first memorable years will impact you. You didn’t have a closing of preschool to say goodbye to all your friends, you didn’t have a first day of school, you don’t get to make new friends in the school building, everything has changed, I can only hope it doesn’t change you.

I hope you keep your fearlessness

A lot of being four was spent at gymnastics. You showed such promise they accelerated you to the “big girl” team classes from your preschooler class. You were 8 inches shorter than your classmates but that didn’t stop you from strutting across the balance beam or climbing the rope. You knew you belonged there, even if your mama wasn’t so sure, you had enough bravery for both of us.

You spent more than a handful days of being four at Busch Gardens, your favorite place (besides preschool). You love the teacups, the water log, the whole atmosphere! But nothing would light up your face as much as when we approached the battering ram. Liberty, Canton, and I would watch you from the Flying Machines as we gently whirled around while you and dad flew high above. Your little body would come out of the seat as you flew back and forth, your laughs would carry yards away. People would give dad the strangest looks as he allowed such a little girl to sit in the back row! What a terrible father they must have thought! Little did they know you were the one dragging him there. You would delight at the thought of defying expectations of others! May you continue to laugh as you face your fears.

I hope you make friends where ever you go

Preschool was a big step for your this year! Liberty didn’t care for it much but it was your favorite place! You were friends with everyone, but especially Ellie. You greeted her and many others with a giant hug each morning. You had field trips, made art, sang, played on the playground, and learned how to be in the world without me next to you. I would miss your terribly but you had a blast! Dad would pick you up sometimes and bring you home during his lunch break. You would love to run in and see me “crying” and ask “Did you cry all day?” Then you would tell me all about things you made and did. Soon your calls of “I’ll miss being three” turned into “I love being four!” At night I would tuck you in and you would say so fast “Night, Love you, see you in the morning FOR PREEEEEEESCHHHHHOOOOOOOOL!” You could not wait to get back to your friends. When COVID hit you were devastated, all you wanted was to be with your friends. Zoom meetings were hard and sometimes we would skip them because you were too sad, you could see your friends but you couldn’t be with them, it must of been an unbearable thought. I’m so sorry that was cut short for you. Your teacher, Mrs Old, wrote following of you : “I will miss the way you would walk up to any friend who seemed sad or nervous and offer a hug.” May you take that empathy with you as you grow.

I hope you always know how to love and how loved you are

You often ask me big questions, even in your tiny voice. You ask about the physics of the world, afterlife, and why things are they way they are. One you say a lot is “Who is your favorite person in the entire world and universe? Give me hints!” I tell you things about yourself or things you did that day but remind you I have three favorite people and then you tell me things you love about your siblings. We are so lucky to have each other. Lockdown time has made that more apparent. You guys have each other to play with when we can’t see others. I love watching you all swing, play games like Avengers, cook, explore, and grow together. But sometimes being together constantly can lead to arguments. You have learned so well how your actions impact others. You are always the first to apologize or check on your siblings. If Canton upsets Liberty you will run after her to check on her. It hurts you to know you or others may have hurt someone else. You will immediately say “I accept your apology” or “Sorry Lou/Can, I apologize, we are sisters and best friends.” Such a grown up sentence for something that is very hard for grown-ups to do. You also use nice language when you play like “pause game” when you have a question and you guys try to work out a conflict. When Dad returned from Disney World after a week long conference you said “I missed you a little bit.” We laughed and laughed but then you knew it maybe wasn’t the nicest thing to say and you gave him a big Adleigh hug and told him how much you loved him. May you continue to know your impact on the world around you.


One of your favorite “games” to play at night it “Stay with ME forever!” You and I say it to each other super fast repeatedly, whoever said it the fastest “wins” and the other stays with them forever. We have a lot of nighttime rituals. You love the Grover book The Monster At The End of This Book. My throat gets raw doing the Grover voice over and over again but I would do it a million times to hear that hearty grunty laugh of yours. We’ve read it so many times you often read it to me. You also love “tickle me a bunch and a lot!” I love when you say “huddled close at night” and you wrap your arm around my neck and huddle close to me, it’s my favorite part of day. I know you won’t live with me forever, but you will stay with me forever. As you ask me “Is uppie your favorite thing I say?” I will lift you however I can. You are in all of our hearts, Adleigh. Your happiness is so great it doesn’t matter if it’s yours or not. You have brightened our world and your light will always shine.

The world is insane right now. I hope this abnormal doesn’t become the new normal. I am reminded of the line in “Dear Theodosia”. “When you smile you knock me out, I fall apart, and I thought I was so smart.” The next section talks of how they are making a new nation. You are also coming of age in a changed nation. Your empathy and kindness are needed now more than ever. I hope that we have given you a strong enough foundation. I hope we make it right for you. There is so much love inside you and even though your hand continues to slip from mine, I’m so excited for you to share that love with the world.

I love you peanut!



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