Tonight, I decorated the door across from Mazzy’s room, wrapped a few gifts and then sat down to write Mazzy’s birthday card. I didn’t just sign my name with a short sentiment as I have done in the previous years. I poured my heart into simple terms I knew she would appreciate.
My baby is five-years-old. Old enough to understand when mom wants her to know something special.
Parenthood is funny. Sometimes its hard to give positive reinforcement when your kid is being whiny and manipulative all the time. And then in the moments when she is holding it all together and acting like the big girl I know she is, I don’t want to lay it on too thick, like I am that easy to impress. Or like I’ve forgotten the toothbrushing drama that happened just moments ago.
I tell Mazzy I love her all the time. But I don’t know how often I tell her why.
Yes, she is beautiful. I know she is. I look at her and I can’t believe I helped create that little face with the big almond eyes, the long lashes and the smile that’s brighter than all the buildings lit up in the Manhattan skyline.
But Mazzy is not just a pretty face. She is smart and funny and creative and kind.
Most kids are probably all of those things. I am past the phase where I think I am raising a genius or some sort of supremely superior human being. And believe me, I really did think that when she was a baby. I know I joked about it, but I was serious.
Now I know Mazzy is learning and growing and experiencing new things just like every other kid her age. I don’t feel like I am in a competition to have the best and the brightest anymore. It’s not important for her to do things first for me to be impressed with what she is accomplishing in school.
It’s not really as simple as who can stack their blocks the highest anyway.
When we had her first kindergarten parent teacher conference, I sat there grinning from ear to ear as her teachers told me all the things I already knew about my kid.
They told me Mazzy is one of the only kids who plays with the boys and the girls equally. She loves pink and likes to draw princesses, but she also likes to run around and the boys know she can hang with them.
They told me she is inclusive. She thinks about others and wants the best for her friends. She has cheered for kids who were struggling with a concept and then got it right. She has hugged people who were having a bad day. She is genuinely happy for her classmates when they are successful. She is everyone’s friend and their smiles are as important as her own.
They told me she has a good vocabulary and a sophisticated sense of humor.
They told me her positive energy is a magnet which makes people want to be around her.
They told me she is all heart.
I listened to all of these qualities and I thought— they know my daughter. She is being herself in the class. That is more important to me than whether she is reading or drawing or counting to 100.
Those things she will learn, but her essence will hopefully always remain the same.
Mazzy is a social butterfly. She is confident and fun. She sees the good in everyone. She listens to people and remembers their names. She treats them with kindness. She loves her friends like family.
My baby has an open heart.
That’s who she has always been.
People always ask me about how the close relationship developed between Mazzy and Harlow. The truth is— that is 100% Mazzy and she did it from Day One. She welcomed this new person into her life with open arms and never once looked at her as someone who intruded on a good thing.
Before Harlow could even move, Mazzy decided she was there to be her friend. She included her in the fun from the very beginning.
This is what makes Mazzy special and this is part of what I told her in my card.
“You are an amazing big sister and a caring friend. I am so proud to be your mom.”
Tomorrow when Mazzy opens her presents, I know exactly what she will say. She will say, “You are my favorite Mommy.” And I will hug her tight and say what I always say in return, “You are my favorite Mazzy.”
I know this might not seem like such a profound statement since we are the only Mazzy and Mommy each other has got, but to me it means that no matter what Mazzy is doing— being a role model for her little sister or having a meltdown over breakfast— it will always be 100% true.
And then her smile will light up all of New York.
Happy birthday, my baby. You have been the best gift of all.
(Well, one of two.)