I never knew that five years could feel like a lifetime. I didn’t understand that at five years old certain things would just slip from your face and reveal so much. I shake my head remembering how you were the one I worried about the most. I was so scared that I wouldn’t be able to love you as much as Briar, that somehow coming second left less excitement and wonder. I was so wrong. Once you were born it was easy to slip right into worshipping you. All of us—Dad, Briar, me. We couldn’t get enough of your sparkly smile, the special sound of your voice and the way you knew how to do things so soon.

All of my worries disappeared as you fit perfectly into the family, more so with each day. You keep Dad company when he works, you help Finley tuck in her babies, you play the student to Briar’s teacher. Your balance of strength and kindness takes my breath away. When other kids scream, your voice is calm and you say things that make people stop what they are doing. It won’t make sense now, but you can disarm, enchant and delight with the effortless grace of someone ten times your age. I don’t imagine I’ll ever have to do anything to help you get where you want to go, but somehow I think that you’ll find a way to make me feel as if you needed me. You know almost too much about how people hurt.

I am sure someday you’ll hear people talk about being a middle child, but what you need to know is that you are our core. Your timing as the second of three simply means that you are the very center of our family. Each rotation of our family is more smooth for having you with us. You are not less, you are in fact beyond measure and it is why we have worshipped you and why I call you my light. It is why Finley looks up to you and why Briar often envies you. I’ve watched them observe you and they both do so with a smile. They follow in your wake as you call out, “C’mon, yets go!”

Don’t underestimate your Averyness, it is a thing of incomparable beauty.

Happy Birthday to the bubbliest and most delightfully bold 5 year old ever!