And then there were five. Five measly years left with you. How could that ever be enough? How could five years be enough time to teach you everything you’ll need to know to survive on your own when right now you can barely remember to put on deodorant each morning?

You arrived five weeks earlya tiny, doll-like creature and so fragile. Your preemie diapers were too big and nothing was ready. We didn’t have your furniture yet since we had just moved into our new house, so you slept in the Pack ‘n Play. We had no clothes to fit you so your aunt went out and got new ones. Your father and I became real adults in those first few chaotic weeks.

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It took five years to teach you to dress yourself. It took five years to get you to brush your teeth thoroughly. It took five years to teach you to read and write your name. After five years, your hands were still tiny and pudgy. After five years, I could still carry you up to bed.

Now, in five years, you will be gone, off on your own journey to adulthood.

Somehow you’ll make it through the transition, and I will too. You will make mistakes, you will have regrets, you will have to start over again and again. You will be successful, you will achieve more than you ever thought you could, you will surprise yourself and others. I have faith in you and will be here waiting if you need me.

Just in case, I will leave you with a little road map to guide your travels.

Don’t be afraid to take responsible risks. Be confident enough to try something new. Know that it is never too late to change the path you’re on if it is not the right one for you. Never be afraid to say no, and mean it. Never be afraid to say yes, and mean it. 

Travel and explore the world around you, it’s the best way to understand humanity and what drives it. Be curious, learn new things, entertain new ideas. Find what you love and make time for it. 

Be ready to work hard for what you want but never climb on the backs of others to achieve your own dreams.

Be respectful, but remember you are allowed to walk away from those who do not extend you the same courtesy. Surround yourself with people who support you and encourage you.

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Even if they don’t always show it, all people are unsure of themselves at one time or another. We all second-guess our strengths and overthink our weaknesses. 

Clean your room, eat some healthy meals, visit the doctor and dentist, stay active and for heaven’s sake, call your mom.

I have loved seeing you grow and learn, and it has been an honor to be trusted with your care. In five years when you walk out the door to start your next phase of life, know that the tears in my eyes are not tears of sorrow but tears of gratitude and pride. You are my greatest joy, and I’m grateful we could give you to the world, it is a much better place with you in it. 

Jill Robinson

Jill Robinson is a wife, mother of two, athlete, speech-language pathologist, and lover of all animals. She loves the outdoors and singing off-key in the car. Writing brings her peace. You can follow Jill at on Instagram @firstdraftdotblog and Twitter at @jarchicago13