As I sit here listening to the Garden State soundtrack, I can’t even believe this same song was playing five years ago today. I was so ready to meet you, the baby who would complete our family. I didn’t know if you would be a Finn or a Maeve, but I knew I couldn’t wait. And neither could you, our girl who burst into the world just three hours after my water broke. You didn’t even make it past the third song, coincidentally titled “In the Waiting Line.” Ironically, you’ve kept us waiting many times since that day.
You walked a little later, talked a little later and slept on your own a little later than your brother and sister. But you’re also the one who has always been eager to cuddle up with us, content to listen to the crazy antics of your siblings. You’re our morning greeter, up with the sun asking if it’s OK to go downstairs and watch a video. There’s still a few nights here and there where you crawl into our bed in the middle of the night and while I should be annoyed, I just move the covers and let you settle between me and Daddy, your little feet constantly looking for a place to tuck themselves under me.
This last year you exploded in growth. It’s like the baby in you disappeared overnight, although I know it was much more gradual than that. You’re totally independent and you remind us every waking minute that you are completely capable of doing things on your own. You brush your own teeth, pick out your own clothes (you still favor jeans, but dresses and skirts are now part of the regular rotation), put your own hair bows in, pack your own school bag, get your own shoes and coat on and could probably walk yourself to school if I let you. You unload the dishwasher and clear the table like a boss and you make a mean bed every morning. You get your own snacks, pour your own milk and know how to wield the TV remote as well as any adult.
But despite all that helpfulness, you’re also our feisty girl who keeps us on our toes. If you don’t like how a game is going, you just pick up the pieces and throw them. If you want the iPad your sister has, you just yank it away from her. If you don’t like being told to do something, you just cross your arms and yell, “You’re stupid.” That one goes over really well, as you can imagine. Your signature move if you’re mad in the car, however, is still to take your shoes off and throw them at us. Good times. But those storms are always fast-moving and over within minutes. I don’t think you’re capable of holding a grudge and you’re usually happily redirected to something else.
This past year you finally dropped the nap and it was both a good and bad thing. You were exhausted for weeks this last summer, but it also made everything so much easier. But that was the last thing you did that made me think of you as a baby. Now? You’re so big. I see pictures of you when you were about 18 months old and I wonder who that chubby girl with the wisps of curl went. Now you’re sprouting up, the toddler tummy I love shrinking, the blonde curls cascading down your back. We still haven’t cut your hair yet, so I guess you still have that one remnant of your babyhood! But that’s probably coming soon as well — when we comb it out, it stretches almost to your waist! But it curls up just below your shoulders, so nobody can even tell. I’m loathe to cut it, scared your beautiful ringlets will disappear for good.
You love to run and chase, you play soccer and baseball and learned to swim without a floatie this year. You ride a big-girl bike with training wheels and took your first ski lessons. You love LEGOs and dolls, coloring and writing and dressing up in various costumes and dresses and you’re a serious whiz at Minecraft. Your favorite thing in school is math, although you’re also full-out reading. You’ve just started randomly telling me things like, “Mommy, four plus four is eight” and you’re so proud of yourself when we confirm that yes, it is.
Your also had your first emergency room visit this year. While we were on the El with friends this summer, you decided you didn’t need to sit facing the correct way and when the train started up, you fell backwards and cracked your head open. You were the lucky first person in the family to make use of the new Children’s Hospital location, getting several staples in your head. That wasn’t a whole lot of fun, but you were a total trooper and very brave. I think the popsicle they gave you helped. (The photo below was taken moments before The Fall!)
While you’e a semi-adventurous eater, vegetables are your kryptonite and you sob when we make you try something new. You beg us to hide it in bread and then immediately demand a chocolate pretzel as a reward for trying it. You love hot dogs (organic, grass-fed because Mommy is a crazy person), Cheerios, pizza, mediterranean food, mac and cheese, cheese sticks, fruit of all kinds and raw spinach. You’ll happily munch on carrots and hummus, but if you even suspect a drop of salad dressing has touched your spinach, you will freak out on us as if we’re trying to poison you. Chill out, sister, nobody’s trying to hurt you with a little sweet Italian dressing.
Your best friend moved away this summer, so you were a little lost when you started back to school, but it was a momentary blip. You thrive in your multi-age classroom, friends with the kindergartners and the three-year-olds alike. You love to be the line leader, to help your teachers and I still live for the moment you come out the door after school, your eyes searching the groups of moms for me and the huge mega-watt smile I get when you lock eyes with me. It never gets old.
You also adore Jack and Emmie. I mean, when you’re not fighting with them over an Apple product. You share Minecraft worlds, play dress-up and dolls, put on plays and have dance parties with them. You beg to have sleepovers with Emmie and love nothing more than play American Girls with her. Jack loves to pick you up and give you piggy-back rides and can convince you to play anything with him. I love watching you all together, and not only because you entertaining each other means I don’t have to entertain you. You three genuinely get along 75 percent of the time, which is pretty good in my book. The other 25 percent? Well let’s just say there’s a lot of hair-pulling, back-smacking and shrieking.
You’ve grown so much this last year, but Daddy and I know how the leap from five to six is even bigger. You’ll start kindergarten this next year! You’ll practically be off to college in my mind. But you know what? As much as I loved the baby Maeve, the one who slept in my arms and babbled and loved to play peek-a-boo, I love big-kid Maeve even more. You love to tell jokes, you have empathy when others are hurting, you make connections. You can reason and make predictions. You were even big enough to see your favorite band, Foster The People, at Lollapalooza last year! But you still hug me and spontaneously tell me you love me. You still want to sit on my lap. You’re still Daddy’s Maevie McMaeverson.
I always say I can’t wait for the next year, but I really mean it. Just keep smiling that smile and flashing those dimples before slaying people with the thoughts inside your head. Keep laughing and chasing your friends on the playground. Keep snuggling with your fuzzy blanket and your Baby Ola. Keep telling us that your “eyes are surprised” to see unexpected things. Keep eating hang-a-burgers for dinner. And keep being you. Because you’re amazing and we love you.