Last month you turned five years old, something I never imagined happening when you were first born. I come back to that memory of you often, your little pink face staring into mine with big, open eyes, as they placed you on my exhausted chest. You were making little noises as you took your first breaths, and we met each other for the first time. I cannot believe you have been in our lives for five years. Or has it only been that long? Your birthday also happened to land on your first day of Kindergarten which made everything extra special, (or extra emotional - whichever way you're willing to look at it).
You are almost completely self sufficient now, Viv. You get up in the morning and brush your own teeth, get yourself dressed, and pretty much anything else I'm willing to let you do. I'll admit I still want to help you with everything, and I'm trying to let go more, let you have the autonomy that comes with being a five year old. You are literally the best big sister I could ever have imagined for Olive. You do everything with her in mind. If she cries, you are right there to investigate the problem. You want to hold her and kiss her first thing every morning. You've come up with countless nicknames for her, you follow her around while she crawls pretending to chase her, you let her take most any toy she wants - even if it's directly out of your hand. Your dad and I both high five each other all the time at what an amazing big sister you've become. It's really been a joy to watch the two of you fall in love.
Since the arrival of your sister last Christmas, your father and I have been making an extra effort to really savor the moments with you like never before. I remember when you turned one and clapped through your entire party at all the guests. I remember the way you would say "nilch" for "milk" and the way your little hugs felt whenever we would say "give love". Sometimes I take a deep breath into your cozy blanket just to smell you, and it's as if I've just stepped back in time. As soon as you learned to walk all you wanted to do was run everywhere. You still do. We have several talks about what it means to be a "grown up". You've always been an old soul in a tiny body, but lately you are obsessed with what it will be like when you are a teenager or when daddy and I are older. Sometimes these things cause you anxiety, to which I can only say that everything will be ok, and that you have a long, long time until you are completely grown. This seems to do the trick. You still believe that I hold all the answers to life, which is both amazing and humbling.
Kindergarten has been a huge deal for all of us, and your dad and I were so nervous about this transition for you, given we just moved from the city. Besides a few tummy aches and a couple of really hard homesick moments, you have handled everything beautifully. Can we just talk about school for a moment? SCHOOL. I never really considered that I was going to have to live through school all over again with you. But here I am getting up early with you, making sure you're there on time, worrying about whether or not you're meeting your challenges and if you're drinking enough water, and preemptively throwing up at the thought of the exams in the years to come.
One fantastic thing about Kindergarten is that it has given you an immediate community, and the friends you've already made have given you such a sense of confidence and pride that it's inspiring to watch. You are thriving with a whole new set of rules and people and a set of principles that are outside of our home. I love watching you navigate life and all the circumstances that come up with your new found realities. You are an amazing kid, Vivienne. You need to know this. Your heart is immensely big, and you feel things to the fullest. Maybe it's because you're a lot like me, but I know these feelings can sometimes be overwhelming for you. I watch you try to make sense of them all, in a world where sometimes it feels as though it would be easier to feel less. Trust me when I say they are a gift. I will always try to answer your questions in the most honest way I can, and know that I think your mind is absolutely beautiful. You are beautiful.
Since we still live at Grandma's our commute to school is extra long. I thought this was going to be such a challenging imposition, but it's actually turned out to be one of my most cherished moments of the day. We have an uninterrupted hour to do nothing but talk. This is your favorite thing. We talk about life, big and small. Today we talked about Halloween and poop. Yesterday it was your friend Jude that we talked about, and why boys seem to act differently than the girls at school. A few days ago you were telling me that you couldn't wait to be a teenager, because "teenagers can drive". We then proceeded to talk about how when you learn to drive you will most likely drive me around. I made a big deal about this and told you I was very excited for that day. We talked about how one day you'll be driving on your own. Your demeanor changed at this thought, you looked up at me very seriously and said to me in the sweetest, serious voice, "but mommy, I don't want to be on my own...I could get lost in this big world, you know!..." You will never know how my heart felt in that moment, Vivi. Let me tell you now that I will never let you get lost.
You have changed so much since that late evening that you joined us in September of 2009. I imagine I won't ever stop feeling like I have a portion of my brain that will always be dedicated to you, won't ever stop wondering where you are and what you are doing, won't be able to escape the constant, nagging hope that you are happy and fulfilled. My heart always feels like it's beating on the outside of my chest, thanks to you. I can't thank you enough for the dimension that this has added to what it means to be alive.
I adore you. Keep growing strong, and know that I'm right here with you, always.