Dear 6-year-old,

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As I pondered what to write to reflect on your 6th birthday, I wept through my letter to you last year. I could say all the same words this year.

Oh, sweet Hadley, every year marks so much growth and change. I wish I could bottle up these moments–the ones where I only feel like being left alone–because I know one day I will just wish you were here to tell me one of your stories.

And the stories! Have they come alive this year! This year your creativity and imagination jumped off stapled pages with hand-written words and colorful illustrations.

This year your plans came to life in plays and projects and puppet shows.

This year you grew up–went to Kindergarden my baby and came home all big and responsible. Sometimes I have to compete for the role of “Mom” in this house, and as crazy as it makes me, I love the leadership that’s blossoming within you. I pray God will make you soft in your fierceness–that he will make you gentle and humble and ready to serve.

This year was hard for me and you. You, so ready to make plans and do projects; me, bone-tired, grieving, sleeping, quiet. I wonder if one day you will look back on this year and understand. I pray you will look back with grace, maybe preparing for your own baby, and know that I loved you even in the midst of the harsh words and stern glances. Oh how I regret each one. I pray God will cover my many failures with His grace–that He will show Himself to be the perfect Father–that you and I can run to Him together.

I learn so much from you, sweet Hadley Beth. The beauty of simple faith. Child-like wonder and curiosity. Winsome joy. I am terrified for the age when those start to slip away. I pray God would allow His love to grow deep, even now in your six-year-old heart.

You are a gift to me, to this family, to this world.

We love you, birthday girl.

Love, Mom