Oh my girl!
How are you five?!
Five years ago, tonight, you entered the world and changed our world forever. You made us parents; you are the means by which God is teaching us what it means to be a Mama and a Papa... you are our first run, our testing of the waters... and you are so patient with us! I know we will make mistakes, I know we already do, but honestly, you challenge me every day with your gentleness and kindness and vibrancy. You love life... you love exploring, creating, adventuring. I love all of that about you. So much.
I write this on the eve of your fifth birthday and can't quite believe we are here. Five. It seems so grown up... we are now officially waving goodbye to those early years, and entering childhood with you in all its innocent, rollercoaster glory. Entering this new phase scares me somewhat. The little years are challenging, but they are where I feel safe and in control (to some degree)... childhood feels like every year is a further step towards independence, and I'm just not quite sure I'm ready for that yet... and yet I'm excited. Because with each passing year, I see more of who you are, and I feel more and more that we can talk, and share and laugh together, and I'm so excited to see how our relationship might grow and change as you develop your own thoughts, opinions and ideas about life.
I've been thinking a lot about your childhood recently... about the childhood I want for the three of you... Papa and I have been talking too. What matters? What is important? What kind of values do we want to instill in you? What kind of memories do we want you to have when you are older and look back? The world says so many things matter - the kind of clothes you wear... the kind of extra-curricular clubs you go to... your academic success... the kind of opportunities you have and the kind of things you are in to... and its so easy to get pulled along with the flow... to feel guilty that you aren't doing all the things your friends are, to feel pressured to push you in certain directions, to question yourself as a mother the whole time...
But you, Ava, you are a free spirit... a creative little soul who is always thinks outside the box. You are a problem solver and an optimist and I hope, so much, you always stay that way. You are happy to accept that you can be different without feeling the need to conform, and you have a quiet confidence that enables you to enter a room of complete strangers and make yourself at home.
And then you are a perfectionist too... you want things to be just right. Most of all, you want to do the right thing... you hate the thought that you are in the wrong, and you're learning, over time, how to cope with feeling that sense of failure or guilt. Slowly but surely, you are starting on the journey of understanding the beauty of grace... that you will make mistakes, that you will fail, that you will feel guilty at times (and that is a good thing!)... and yet that there is forgiveness and grace where repentance is born.
I love watching you with little children. You're like the Pied Piper of Hamlyn after church sometimes, with all the smaller children following you round that huge hall! You care for them with kindness and generous joy and they love you - not least your own little brother and sister.
Ava, we love you so much... we love the character God has gifted you with, and we love that you are eager, in these early years, to learn more about what it means to follow him. I'm so excited to see your character grow and flourish over the years, and to see time and maturity, joys and trials whittle that character into the young woman God designed you to be.
We pray every day that you will have a wonderful childhood - wild and free and innocent. That you will grow and explore with abandon the gifts that God has given you; that your character will grow in godliness, loving him and serving others with compassion and grace.
But most of all, we pray that you will know all your faults, failings and struggles are covered by the precious blood of the Saviour who gave his life, all those years ago, for someone even as little as you.
We love you darling girl.
Mama und Papa. xx