Well, I can’t tell you where I’m going
I’m not sure of where I’ve been
But I know I must keep travelin’
Till my road comes to an end
Nearly three months have passed since your sixth birthday, but earlier this winter your dad and I arranged for the two of us to have a long weekend away in one of your favorite places in the world: Paris. You’re a pretty lucky kid, you know? You’re only 1/3 of the way to legal voting majority, but you’ve seen Paris twice. Starting with a Madeline book and encouraged by loads of friends and family, Paris has developed into your special interest. We move next year, and your new sister (oh, hi readers, forgot to mention that–Baby 3 is Baby Girl 3) arrives in August. Our idle talk of you and I getting away for a mommy-daughter weekend turned into “Do it now, or do it never.”
Maggie, those three days in Paris with you were better than I could have ever hoped or imagined.
Questions I have many
Ansewers but a few
We’re here to learn; the spirit burns
To learn the greater truth
Since your last birthday, a lot has changed. You had no desire to learn your letters or numbers then, but this trip marked the first time you’ve had a basic grasp on reading. You read signs to me, helped me navigate maps, and volunteered to track different scooter colors on a piece of paper so we could make a pictograph of our findings when we got home. You were, and are, a curious and engaged student of the world.
We say that you have happy feet, and nowhere have they been as happy as in Paris. 90-minute to 3-hour queues to see things? No problem. Never a change in attitude, never so much as a grumble. Your whole body was vibrating, electric with joy. You were all the way up on top of your toes in a full-body happy dance all weekend long. It was worth every minute my third-trimester body spent in the sun (which is saying something!).
Five and the start of six have been fascinating. Five is still very young, but moving toward rationality and wanting to be a big kid. Six has been a bigger step forward for you. It was so special to get to spend time with you one-on-one, because so much of our daily relationship is defined by your relationship with Moira. You are typical sisters, and I’d say you get along better than most, but I still sometimes feel like I’m managing a pint-size conflict resolution summit. This trip took that pressure off of us, and we got to have some lovely conversations about everything from resolving issues with each other to goofing on absolutely nothing at all.
One thing we spent a bit of time talking about is your new sister. I would never say you were a bad big sister to Moira, because you most certainly aren’t, but more that you and Moira are too close in age not to bicker sometimes. Six can get excited about a new baby; six can buy it little gifts with her own money and help throw out name suggestions. We rejected your offer of “Molly Collie,” but had you come up with a different middle name we’d have made that a contender.
God made me for a reason
And nothing is in vain
Redemption comes in many shapes
With many kinds of pain
While we still have some more lesson plans on the docket, this Paris trip was the culmination of your kindergarten year. What a wild ride. As a family we figured out what we were doing and where we were going, ironing out bumps and lumps along the way. It was so hard, and more than once I woke up at 3a.m. after a stress dream thinking to myself “Who am I to take on this role for you? What was I thinking? Are you really getting anything out of this? How dare I?”
It was worth it. You are worth it. Every moment of uncertainty, every moment when I was sure I was failing you, every bit of that is on my head and not yours, because in spite of my worries you are thriving. You always have thrived. You are a brightly shining little person; engaged, happy, friendly, and a hell of a good time and a travel buddy. I couldn’t adore you more.
Oh sometimes the road gets rugged
And it’s hard to travelin’ on
But holding to each other
We don’t have to work alone
When everything is broken
We can mend it if we try
We can make the world a difference
If we want to, we can fly
For the last six years you have called me Mommy. For the last 10 months you have called me your teacher. The love and responsibility that comes with being your mom has been one of the defining forces of my life. The honor and privilege of being your teacher and guide on this wildly twisty road…indescribable.
Good-bye you little children
Good-night you handsome men
Farewell to all you ladies
And to all who knew me when…
It was worth it.
It IS worth it. Every second.
You are worth it.
And I hope I’ll see ya down the road
You meant more than I knew
As I was travelin’ travelin’ travelin’ travelin’ travelin’ through
I love you, little friend. Happy birthday.
(Italicized lyrics are from one of your favorite songs: Dolly Parton’s “Travelin’ Through.”)