Dear Kenly Shae,
I can't believe that you are turning four. I'm amazed at how quickly you've transformed this year. I feel like I blinked and you blossomed into a girl, a miniature young woman. I love watching you grow and become more independent, but a part of me mourns the passing of all our babyish mannerisms. Girl, you've come a long way this year.
I know this year has brought many changes and challenges into your little life, but I'm so proud of how you have handled everything. Corah was born this year. I know that it has been hard to share me, to have to compete for my attention. I've loved watching you grow closer to Daddy as he took on some roles that used to be mine. I've even been a little jealous. You might not know it, but I miss drying your hair after bath. I miss dressing you for bed. I miss being "on duty" at night. So, you're not the only one who has been struggling with jealousy this year. While I love our new normal, I miss being able to give you 100% of my attention. My heart aches when I feel that I've slighted you in the least, but oh my sweet baby, the sacrifice is going to be so worth it. Corah loves you with a fierce love. Before too long, playing with Mommy will be replaced with playing with Corah. I'm loving the bond that I see forming between the two of you. You've been a little slow to warm to her, but I know you love her. I know that you're even starting to enjoy her. I love that you're already protecting her like a good big sister should. You get angry if I try to call her Skeeter when she's whiny. You love teaching your sister about her world. You're a great teacher. Thank you for loving Corah. Thank you for loving me through the changes this year has brought. Thank you for trying to patient with Mommy as I learn to meet your needs and Corah's needs.
This year you've done some amazing things. You took your first dance classes at Releve. You took tap and ballet with Miss Merle and hip hop with Mrs. Jamie. I love to watch you dance, and girl, you're got some moves. I know I'm your Mama, but I truly think that you were born to perform. Your recital in May proved that. Baby girl, you stole the show even though you were drugged with prednisone. You amazed me. I was so proud of how hard you worked to learn your routines. You knew all four of them backwards and forwards.
This year we started "school." You have been learning sight words and sounding out words. I'm thrilled when you recognize a word in a book or when I hear you trying to sound out a word on a sign. You are so smart. You learned to write your first name without dots this year. I love to watch you sign your own thank you cards now. I enjoyed watching you hide God's word in your heart this year. You have memorized at least four Bible verses. I'm happy that you are beginning to learn what God wants us to do when we are angry or scared. I love hearing you pray at night. I find it refreshing that you are excited to select "prayer sticks" from the jar. Your prayers are sweet and so insightful. You are teaching Mommy how to pray again---with excitement, joy, and child-like trust.
On June 10th you gave up your Binky. I know it was really hard to do, but I'm so proud of you. I hurt for you the first night you gave it up. The "Mama Bear" in me never wants you to hurt or struggle. I wanted to run in the room and give you back the binky when I heard you softly whimper, "I don't think I can do this." But you did it, and you haven't looked back. I know it was for the best, but I cried that night. The binky was your last link to being a baby. I'm not ready for you to grow so fast. When I feel like it is flying by too quickly, I sneak into your room at night. When I find you snuggling Benny Bunny, I'm reminded that you are still so small, so innocent. You are so little in that twin bed. For a moment I can suspend time and keep you little forever. When I ask you to stop growing so fast, you say, "Mama. I'm about to be four. I'm growing really fast, but don't worry. I'll always be your little girl." You've got that right, kiddo. You won't ever be able to shake that title.
You are inquisitive and curious. Your drive to learn is amazing. When you put together your US map puzzle, you want Daddy or me to show you sights from the different states. You are a little sponge. You can point out the states where our family members live. You can point out where the Grand Canyon is located. You're better at geography that I was at 22.
This year you had to say goodbye to Meghan and Ava. When they moved to Michigan, you're heart broke. I've been so proud of you though. You've welcomed new friends into your life. I love watching you develop friendships with Lydia, Emory, and Annalise. You're making new friends, but keeping your old ones close to your heart.
Some times I ask you if you need me anymore. Let's face it, you can dress yourself. You can do a decent job brushing your teeth. You can feed yourself if you want to because let's face it, you D-I-N-E. You can make a meal last 80 minutes. Sometimes Daddy and I think you do it to make us crazy. You can brush your hair. You can go potty and wash your hands. I'm amazed at how I'm working myself out of a job. But you reassure me always by saying, "I can't cook my food. I can't drive. Don't worry, Mommy."
In short, you amaze me. Just the sight of you makes my heart leap with pride. I'm so happy you made me a Mama. Kenly, you made me a Mama. I will be forever grateful that God chose me to be your Mama. I love you so much it hurts. I can't wait to see what this next year holds. I know that you are going to continue to prove that I'm the luckiest Mama in the world. Kiddo, you have my heart! You always will!