Annie at five.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about being a mother lately: this election has weighed heavily on me. As I seek out and surround myself with like-minded friends and family I’ve come to this: in a way I think Annie is part of a beautiful awakening born from the heartache of millions of women across our nation. No, sweet girl, you will be heard. Stand tall. Your mother, your aunts, your grandmothers, and their friends are working for you. For all the little girls who just recognized the bully pulpit won over intellect and hard work.

Our girls deserve better. Annie, who over the last month has emerged as a kid with a flair for drama, who drops and throws her voice when recounting a tale, deserves an audience that doesn’t dismiss and discourage. The other night she put on a one-woman play in the basement. It was magic.

She makes art in her bedroom after bedtime. She works with every medium she can get her hands on: tissues, construction paper, old mailers, cardboard, string, tape (lots of tape), found objects: things just seem to turn up in her art. We often hear the stairs creaking around 9:30 pm: she’s bringing us her latest piece before she goes to bed.

She’s taken to noticing women in the forefront. Both kids do as they whisper “girl power” to me. We watch the news sometimes. “Do you want me to turn this off?” I ask. Always no. Always a question. They already see the injustice and ask, again and again, why. I beg them not to become complacent with the why.

That’s not to say they’re perfect little revolutionaries in the making. They are kids. Young kids. And with that, they can be bratty and, oh lord, the whining, and they’re just simply exhausting. Exasperating. Annie can be hot and cold — instantly incensed when we “don’t get it” — but I will never call her emotional. I was always told I was too emotional and it tasted bitter every time. Wear your heart, Annie.

She nurtures. Julie always comments how wonderful she is with the smaller children, and she loves being grouped with the babies during late pick-ups from school. Once most of the kids are picked-up, the remaining children (ages six weeks to five years) coalesce in one room for the final moments of the day. She told Matt to pick her up later and later because the babies “are just so adorable”. She also protects and teaches her brother. She includes Sam. I think it’s safe to say they play and love each other 60% of the time now, which is probably 50% more than a year ago. The ratios are in our favor.

She gives compliments. “This photo is just lovely, Mommy,” she told me this afternoon, pointing to my Facebook profile shot. I no longer demure when given a compliment (I think wanting to raise a strong female will do that to you) and simply said, “Isn’t it? I really like that one. Thank you.” It felt right.

She’s also taken to using adult sayings and words: just like the lovely comment above, she throws “certainly” into conversations daily. “Annie, do you have a clown fish?” I asked when playing Go, Fish. “Oh, I most certainly do!” she responded. Matt and I noticed, over the last several months, something has been happening. She’s a child. But there’s no trace of baby. Just yesterday we received the “Kindergarten registration is open!” email. My heart jumped. Just like that, this creative, dramatic, empathetic and beautiful girl has been with us for five years, and whatever in the world would be do without her?

Happy (belated) birthday, my girl.

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