Dear Tessa: Birthday Shenanigans

Dear Tessa,

A week ago today, you turned five!  I am not even close to sure how that is possible, but it is.  When parents have told me in the past, that it feels like yesterday when their babies were born–you’re getting to that age where I understand that so much more.  It literally really feels like I held you for the first time yesterday. No tears, though.  I did not go there this time.  You will be happy to know that I only shed maybe two tiny tears the night before your birthday this year. That’s right…no prolonged sobbing this year. I know you are proud.

This year’s birthday was under-celebrated…I won’t lie.  Your dad and I closed on our new house Monday morning and you spent most of the day at daycare with your friends.  Some friends stopped by to check out the new place, and we didn’t end up lighting your candle and singing Happy Birthday until 9 p.m. Whew.  Now that’s not to say your special day went by uneventfully.  No, you provided us with light entertainment that afternoon…


I will set the scene:  chickens, you, your sister, your brother, me and a hose all hanging out in the yard.  Interesting combination.

Your big brother and I let the chickens out to roam the yard and snack on some veggies.  You read that right.  We have chickens; five of them.  I have no idea what we are doing or how long this phase will last, but for now this is real life.  While “the girls” (what we call the chickens) were out, you and your sister tossed them tomatoes and cucumbers while your brother sprayed the poo out of their pen and refilled their water.  I was busy making sure they did not try to venture off over the hillside again.  It started out innocently enough and the whole picture was quite adorable, really. Everyone was helping out, giggling and enjoying the nice night.  It was time for the girls to return to their pen, and we had them all grouped together to shuffle them back inside.

Unbeknownst to me, the pump that runs the hose water was still opened up. That is when you quietly grabbed the hose and sprayed the girls…all of them. It was madness.  You sprayed the rest of us too.  As the chickens were losing their minds over the unexpected hose-down, the rest of us were hollering at you to drop the hose.  Kendal was crying.  The chickens were scattered.  But you were extremely delighted in the hysteria you created.  Your diabolical laughter was proof of that.

Mischievous. You have definitely discovered that side of yourself this summer. I will be sure to wish your new teachers good luck next week.

We completed your birthday week with a party at our new place with our family and close friends.  Even though it was extremely humid, it was still a lot of fun.  At one point, while you were opening your gifts, you turned to me and said, “…best birthday party ever.”  You express a lot of things that bring you joy as “the best ever,” and I adore it because I can tell that you really mean it.



Health wise, here is a quick recap of where you are currently.  Your echocardiogram came back great.  No cleft mitral valve as previously suspected.  No current damage to the heart muscles from chemo. One slight eccentric aortic valve; but not of any concern at this time.  Your follow-up ENT visit went great.  You recovered perfectly from surgery in May just as we thought you did.  You passed your first hearing test ever with flying colors!

We visited your oncologist last week and while we were unable to get blood work that day, everything else looked as it should. Your oncologist also told me that you are also being moved to the Caring For Life clinic from now on. The Caring For Life clinic is a childhood cancer survivor clinic.  The program is designed to help the survivors of childhood cancer as well as their care providers by detecting health-related problems associated with chemotherapy, providing health maintenance education about potential risks, providing emotional support for survivors and family members, and empowering survivors to advocate for themselves.  This is something we thought would happen in a few years; therefore I was pleased to hear that we will starting this in six months. This is a big step in the right direction in life after cancer.


Each of your birthdays feels better than one before.  Another great year has gone by.  All that you have seen, done and overcome in five short years in remarkable.  I always look forward to the year ahead and seeing what you will do next.  Happy five years to you, little darling.  And cheers to many, many more.


Love always, Mom.


Little Doesn’t Last Long

“When did you get so big?” I asked my two–wait, almost three–year old recently.  “Yesterday mom.  That’s when I got so big,” she replied with certainty.  “Yeah me, too mom,” her big sister chimed in.

No really, I thought, when did it happen?  They climb in and out of the tub on their own, dress themselves. And their hands, without even the slightest of baby squish anymore, wrap around mine when they tell me they love me. Yesterday I held them for the first time; today they are singing all the words to Taylor Swift songs.  It is easy to get sidetracked as they grow.  I don’t mean to; I suppose it just comes with the territory.

That transition from newborn to big kid seems like it happens overnight. Somewhere in between scrubbing crusty cereal off the kitchen chairs, discovering crayon on the walls and marker on the carpet, breakfast giggles, first wagon rides of the new year and falling asleep while reading yet another Dr. Seuss book, I tend to forget that someday–long before I will be ready–they will be grown up.  I won’t be reading bedtime stories or strolling two little girls to the park forever.

When those days come, I hope the sight of marker stains from days past will take me right back to these very times.


I complain about the messes.  I scold them for silly things.  We rush through the days without thinking to slow down. Then out of nowhere I am reminded of how quickly time is passing, and I am remember to appreciate the hard days of parenting too.


We enforce rules and sometimes we bend them too.  And today bending the rules meant wearing sparkly dress-up dresses for no reason other than they wanted to.

I really was not prepared for how fast this all goes.  Last night both of the girls asked me to rock them to sleep so I did.  We have gotten into a strict bedtime routine lately that I forgot how much I missed wrapping them up in their blankies and rocking them to sleep.  One held my shirt sleeve and the other held my hand.


Today:  “Can you hold my baby for a little bit mommy?”  Right before I was about to tell her I couldn’t, I realized the chores could wait. My phone could be put down.  My attention could easily be her’s.  With a baby doll in my arms, she says “Okay.  I have to go to work.  Change her diaper and feed her a bottle.  Don’t drop her.  Okay?  Thanks mom.”

Sooner than later, they won’t even pick up a baby doll.  Answer that toy phone.  Eat the play food.  Rock them to sleep.  Listen to their stories–even if you’re busy.  Build the lego towers and tip them right over.  Read the extra book.  Give them sugar.  Create memories.  Make a mess.  Play hide and seek. Play house.  Play beauty parlor, school, dress-up…whatever they want. Be silly. Let their imaginations soar.

Because little doesn’t last long.