Or about four inches. That is how you measure a year.
Last June Emily graduated from her preschool wearing a dress with purple flowers. She had a sweet little smile and her bangs needed a trim. I was a tiny bit pregnant and wearing pigtails.
This morning that sweet faced little girl graduated from Kindergarten in the same dress. It was shorter this year. She continues to grow up. Straight up. Her face is sharper. She is growing out her bangs and is typically wearing no fewer than two hair accessories. I curled her hair this morning. Two hours later I arrived at school and she had another hairdo altogether.
She proudly held her little sister during a good portion of the graduation ceremony. The back of her neck makes me tear up. There is something beautiful about the back of a woman’s neck. Hers is no exception. In that six (almost seven!) year old neck I can see the young woman she will become. Inches below her neck is the freckle she had when she was born.
Somewhere between that freckle and that young woman’s neck will be tears and heart break and laughter and joy too numerous too imagine. She will not always be in a white dress with purple flowers, but she will always be my baby, my Emily June.
There are no words to describe this last year. A fearless little girl started kindergarten in a brand, new school. Weeks later she started again at yet another new school, beginning a new chapter in a new home.
Your baby face has faded, in its place a crooked smile complete with wiggly teeth. You still let me call you “tiny heiney” but you were appalled when I mooned you the other day in the kitchen. You have a new found sense of propriety.
You still sleep with pinky blanket, but the night your sister was born you did not. I held it in my hands, wiped the tears from my face, the sweat from my forehead with it. It was a reminder that I had all the strength I needed to make you a big sister.
And what a big sister you have become. Your patience is out measured only by your kindness. She watches you endlessly. Your “baby sway” would lead one to believe that you were a teeny tiny grandmother. I could go on and on, sweet girl, but the tears streaming down my face have soaked your sister as she sleeps in my lap.
When you turned one I told you you were my big, bright star. And little lady, you do not disappoint. Every time you grow a little bit older I tell you to knock it off. But underneath the sentimentality of motherhood, I secretly rejoice. One day we will share a glass of wine and reminisce about growing up. Because I am growing right along with you. I love you, kiddo. More than you may ever know.