Happy Birthday, Atticus Clay

5yearsoldDear Atticus,

Now you are five. This morning you woke and granted me the first 5-year-old hug. You sat on my lap – arms tight around my neck – with your long legs dangling off the bed. Seriously, did you grow more last night? I swear you are taller.

Five is a big birthday. At least it feels that way to me. You have opinions, ideas, and so many questions. You ask big science questions and I find myself scrambling for books and resources to answer questions about gravity, dinosaurs, and all sorts of machines.

You are also asking bigger questions. Ones I cannot answer. Why are there homeless people? Where is God? Do we really have to die one day? What happens to kids with no parents?

Big, messy human questions. I don’t have answers to many of these questions because I struggle with the same questions. Instead we puzzle out our feelings together. We think of ways to help. We use our imagination and our hearts to handle the unanswerable. Empathy. You are learning empathy and it makes me so proud.

Yes, you are silly and wild. Underneath the fart noises and antagonizing your sisters is a caring heart. I see it when you advocate for your big sister when she is grounded. I see it when you cry when you baby sister is ill. I see it when you offer to sleep on the floor next to Persy Jane’s bed when she is afraid of the dark. I see ti when you ask if I want to play readathon and pretend there is a river of pumpkin spice latte. I see it when you find crayons or pictures and you save it for Daddy to make art. You have a heart that loves and feels deeply. Treasure it.

Don’t let anyone tell you being sensitive, empathetic, or tenderhearted isn’t manly or will make you weak. It takes incredible strength to remain soft and loving. All of those difficult unanswerable questions can bruise and callous. It takes strength to love without ceasing and to try to better the world.

That is my wish on this big 5th birthday: stay kind. Help. Love. Heal. Believe that you can make a difference because you do make such an impact.

Stay kind, my sweet son. You make my heart happy. I love you.

Happy Birthday,




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