Dear Erinn –
Our family diva, sweetheart, princess and future CEO – today, you turn six.
From the time you could reach out and grasp, the shinier things of the world have attracted your gaze. The gem on a necklace I was wearing. My wedding ring. Glitter. Metallics. Hot pink. Sprinkles. Tiaras. Rainbows. Unicorns. And of course, anything princess related.
As a Kindergartner, you love putting on the hand-me-down princess dresses that your older sisters never really loved, complete with a hot pink crown and princess wand, as soon as you get home from school — and all day on the weekends. When I took all four of you girls to buy new bathing suits, your older sisters opted for sports bra/shorts styles, your younger sister wanted the suit with a puppy on it, and you just wanted the one that made you look like a mermaid.
You added a plastic crown to your ensemble as we were walking out the door to a recent professional hockey outing. Throughout the day, several adults asked you if it was your birthday.
“No,” you answered flatly, straightening your crown and moving on.
Erinn, you are strong. You are smart. You are decisive. You are stubborn.
You love the color pink. And makeup. And you really, really love glitter.
When I gave a basic explanation of “where babies come from” to your older brother and sisters when they were about your age, they just shrugged. One asked, cautiously, if he HAD to get married someday or have kids. Another asked if she HAD to be a mom or if there was a way to opt out of that. (You get to make those choices when you are older and you can decide whatever you want, I replied, feeling good that my kids wanted to think about their futures rather than just accept societal norms)
When I gave you a nearly identical explanation, you shrieked in delight.
“You mean my babies that I will have one day are already in my body? The eggs are there? I will have babies??”
“Ah… no. I mean, yes. The eggs are there. But a lot more has to happen, like growing up. And finishing high school. And going to college. Oh, and starting a career. And getting married,” I stammered.
You shrieked again in glee.
“Getting MARRIED?! To a boy? Oh I can’t wait, mom!”
A few evenings later, as I tucked you in for bed, I noticed a wide, faraway smile on your face.
‘What are you thinking about, Erinn?”
“Just the babies that are eggs inside me that I’m going to hold one day. I am going to love them SO much.”
Yes you are kiddo. I know the feeling.
You’re stoked about being a mom. You’re stoked about getting married. When I ask you what you want to be when you grow up, you say “a mom.”
Every feminist bone in my body wants to push back against those answers, wants to correct you, wants to say “but what does ERINN want to do?”
But you’re six. And actions speak louder than words. You see what I do as a mom every day for you and your siblings, and what your dad does at home, and you witness the marriage your dad and I have. You know that we both graduated from college. You see us work to provide a life for you and your siblings – but also because we like to work and it brings us happiness. You’ll know how to do those things, too, when you’re old enough to chose them for yourself.
For now, you want your own family, like ours, someday. That’s actually pretty amazing to hear.
I’m also not completely convinced that any of your siblings will produce grandchildren for me one day so you might be my only shot.
If your brother told me that he was stoked to have a wife and kids one day, I would be thrilled to hear it. So I’m thrilled to hear it from you too. The truth is that no matter what you accomplish as “just Erinn” in your life, the joy you’ll glean from a family will just make that life all the more fantastic.
So keep sparkling, Erinn. Keep shining. Keep being excited about the future you envision for yourself. I’m going to keep encouraging you in all you do the best I can.
I’m glad the egg I was carrying my whole life inside my body turned into you. I love you SO much.
Happy Birthday, Er-Bear.
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