On the evening before my daughter’s sixth birthday, I tucked her in and kissed her goodnight. Not two minutes later, she called to me, “Mooommyyyy!!!” With a sigh, I returned to her bedroom to see what ridiculous excuse she had dreamed up. “We forgot to order my birthday cake!” she said nervously. “Oh honey, remember, your party isn’t until next weekend,” I reminded her. Due to the unfortunate timing of a special event, my husband had to work a few hours on a Saturday,  and I had very little interest in orchestrating a birthday party without him.

Izzy apparently had no such recollection of this arrangement.  “What?” she shrieked, devastated tears spilling down her face. Shawn and I had put so much effort into figuring out the best possible party date due to his work conflict that we had evidently neglected to fill our daughter in on our plans.
Distraught, she threw herself back in bed and sobbed, lamenting that she had to wait a whole week for her party, and shouting that everything was ruined. I felt helpless, as I was admittedly responsible for this communication breach. Like Mommy, Izzy prefers to be fully informed and prepared, and she does not handle disappointment particularly gracefully.

There was little I could do besides hold her, smooth back her hair, and whisper that now she would have two special days to enjoy. When her sobs eventually subsided, Izzy sniffled and told me she would like to have a lullaby, a practice we hadn’t indulged in for several years, with the exception of the occasional nightmare or illness.

I snuggled in next to her warm body and pressed my cheek against her hair. “Baby Mine, don’t you cry,” I began, and immediately felt my throat constrict. This is our special song- it has been since I brought her home from the hospital six years ago. For over two years, not a day of her life went by when I didn’t sing this lullaby to her, usually while rocking her to sleep in the glider that now resides in her baby sister’s room.
As I sang, my voice thick with tears, I remembered our era of lullabies; there was a lot of change in our lives during Izzy’s first few years, and regardless of our shifting circumstances or where we lived, we rocked and sang “Baby Mine” every single night. I remembered rocking her as a tiny newborn, curled up like an apostrophe against my chest; I remembered her as a chubby-cheeked one year old who would beg me, “Sing Baby Mind, Mama”; I remembered her as a strong willed two year old who would insist during the day on doing things her “big girl self” but immediately snuggled into me as we rocked and sang our songs at bedtime.
Classic Izzy at 3 years old
4 year old Izzy and her best pals
And now I lay next to my nearly six year old daughter, holding her tightly and singing our song once again. When I finished, I wiped my eyes and turned her face to me. “I may not tell you this often enough, but I love you very much, Izzy,” I said earnestly. “I love you too, Mommy,” she replied tearfully. “I am very proud of you and so happy to be your mommy,” I continued. “You are such a special girl.” Izzy handed me a tissue and said, “You know what the funny thing is about tears? I like to eat them. They taste salty.”
The five year old birthday princess
My sweet six year old girl

Today, on Izzy’s sixth birthday, I celebrate all the things that make up her disarming personality. I celebrate her sensitivity, even though it interferes with our plans sometimes. I celebrate her imagination, and vow to cherish her impromptu theatrical and musical performances rather than grimace when she presents me with another invitation. I celebrate her determination, even when it breaks my heart. I celebrate her incredible empathy and tenderness towards all creatures, knowing how far this will take her in life.  I celebrate her verbosity, and remind myself that her burgeoning vocabulary and wit are worth the price of never having a moment of silence. I celebrate my lovely, compassionate, creative, intuitive daughter, and the six years we have spent together.

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