It seems more than impossible that you should be turning ten today, my little girl. After all, you were born mere moments ago. I cannot have been at this mothering thing for ten years, and you are still supposed to be toddling around carrying a stuffed-monkey-dressed-in-a-bunny-suit under your arm everywhere we go.
But I can’t deny the dates, and I certainly cannot deny the fact that you are no longer a baby. Not by a long shot.
I simply cannot separate your birthday from a birthday of my own–the day I became a mother. You’ve defined my life for the last ten years, every single day, whether you were with me or not. I am not me–the me I am today–without you. And you? You are, quite simply, my favorite girl on the planet.
When I had you, I struggled through 24-hours of labor. I had no idea what I was doing. Your birth, though pretty normal, was kind of scary and kind of intense and more than a little exhausting. I don’t remember what I said the first time I held you, and I don’t clearly recall the immediate hours following your birth. But what I do remember–as clear in my mind as if it were happening right now–was the first time you woke up in the middle of that night to eat. I fed you, in a dark hospital room with light from the nurses’ station shining across us onto your father, snoring as he slept like the dead in a tiny fold-out chair. I fed you and I swaddled you and you immediately got your hands and feet out of the swaddle and as I stared at you and drank you in, the immenseness of it came over me. My eyes filled with tears and I prayed, silently, the most fervent and heartfelt prayer I’ve ever said before or since. All I said was Thank You. Thank you for this little girl and please, please, take care of her and let her live a long, happy, healthy life. It’s my daily prayer for you–and your brothers–still.
You are a bright and shining thing, my daughter. You are whip-smart and funny and goofy and silly and outgoing and creative. You can be a bit of a drama queen (you may have gotten that from me). Remember though, as you begin this journey into your pre-teen and teen years, to use your smart brain and don’t get wrapped up in drama created for drama’s sake. Use your smart brain to create beautiful drama–the kind you plan, and write, and act out for a purpose. Always be your strong, confident, goofy self. Don’t ever worry about or try to hide your silly side, and don’t ever, ever hide your intelligence. Not for anyone.
You read books like you breathe air. I love that. It may be my favorite thing about you actually, because there is nothing I love more than to get lost in a good book, unless it is to later discuss said book with you.
You run and play and jump and climb and swim and use your strong, capable little body with great grace and abandon. You’re fast (you definitely, definitely did not get that from me). You’re confident. You move like you know what you’re doing.
You’re not patient (I’m blaming Daddy equally on this one). Even if it’s the hardest thing you ever do, you’ve got to learn to be patient with your brothers. Be kind to them even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard. They love you, and I know you love them. Show them–it seems annoying and it seems dumb, but show them you love them. They adore you and even when they refuse to let you see, they think everything you do is awesome. Except when what you’re doing is being mean and bossy to them. They don’t like that as much.
I know you think Daddy and I are old and dorky and have no idea what we’re talking about. You’re only partially correct. We are old-ish, dorky-ish, and occasionally we know what we’re talking about. Even when you don’t want to listen to us, know that you have to. But know that everything we’re telling you is because we love you, we’ve been where you are, and we know what’s best. I know you won’t listen anyway, and you’ll push back and try to do your own thing and we’ll push back until eventually we all find a place we can live in peace, but I just thought I’d throw this out here, just in case.
Know that above all, you, my daughter, are the best girl I ever knew and you are restrained only by the limits you put on yourself. I am grateful each and every single day that I get to be your mother, and I cannot wait to see what unfolds for you in these next few years. I know they will be full of adventure for both of us. I love you a Bushel and a Peck and a Hug Around the Neck!