Dear Rylie Joy,
Today… today you are 5. Fahv. You are 44 inches tall and 36 pounds if your backpack is fully loaded.
You are in Ms. Hogan pre-k class and you attend 1 music therapy, 1 riding therapy, 1 occupational therapy, 1 physical therapy, and 3 speech therapies each week to fight the Childhood Apraxia in your body. You lay your clothes out every night, without help, for the coming morning.
You are in love with horses, babies, swinging, the color purple, and your grandfather.
It has been an unspeakably difficult year for us… for me and you. Your body and behavior hit at about age three. Your mind is five. Your humor is about a 27. Your loyalty and empathy are off the charts. You are beautifully undefinable.
As your mom, I feel like I am the cause of so much of your frustration. It is me, 99% of the literal time, that pushes you. Get dressed. Don’t touch. Repeat that. Try again. Turn around. Get in the car. Not right now. Hurry. That is unacceptable. Thank you. Look at me.
Every day we have tears, and every day we have hugs. How can I be the same one to discipline, to punish, to lose it, to drive you to tears… how can I be that same person and yet also be the only one who knows how to comfort you? To interpret for you? To understand you like know one else?
It is, perhaps, one definition of Grace.
Humility is not, by any measure, my strength. I think this year… this incredibly hard and emotional and long year… was less about your body’s weakness and more about my heart’s shortcomings.
You have always been such a teacher.
I made you a purple cake. You don’t know that yet, but under the white frosting and candles is a purple cake. I’m so excited I can hardly stand it.
Your PapPap (my dad) is here, which may eclipse any American Girl doll, hammock swing, or paint set you receive after dinner. Your relationship with him is like nothing I’ve ever seen, and I am forever thankful for the ability he has to cheer your heart. He was a good dad, but he is an incredible grandfather.
You are fortunate to have a handful of adults like him in your life… who call and play and pray and and are simply genuinely invested in you, Child, and your story.
Again, it is Grace.
So, you are five. Fahv. In less than a month, you will be a big sister again… and you are so excited. I pray you will know, somehow, the special place you have as Mulder 1. The first child. The one who taught me to be a mother. The one who broke all the rules of normalcy in Apraxia. The one who smiles with her eyes. That’s you… and you will always have a specific, certain place.
I pray for growth. I pray for language. I pray for durable friends and big-hearted teachers. I pray, selfishly, for less tears of hurt and frustration and manipulation.
I pray, Rylie, that you would know Jesus loves you more than I ever possibly could.
Happy Birthday, My Shadow.
You are so very wonderful.