Miss M turned nine a over a month ago. Usually, on their birthdays, I write the girls a love letter of sorts. This year, I have a lot swirling around me, and getting here, like always, hasn’t been an easy task. But, timing usually works itself out:
In a year from now, you will have existed out in the world a decade. I will no longer be able to write your age with a single digit. It will, for the next 10 years, be accompanied by a number 1. I think that makes being Nine special in a way. We get to savor it a little stronger because it has that bittersweet tang to it of being a last. Lasts are just new beginnings in disguise, but they also wake you up a little to pay attention. Paying attention is a wonderful gift. Your mama is paying extra attention this year… I don’t want to miss a thing.
So much has happened in the last 9 years. You grew too tall for me to carry. You read now. You write stories. One about our life. Like mom. We’ll post them soon. You make the most ridiculous jokes and they are belly-laugh funny. You stick up for yourself in ways I never would have done and I hope you are always that fierce. You are a caretaker more than I give you credit for. Although, you still have a hard time looking at things from other people’s perspectives. You take your responsibilities seriously for only living nine years and it makes me proud. You have a sense of dedication that lives inside you and pushes you. You have hobbies and interests. You still can climb walls– literally. Although you do it a lot less. Now you contort your body into back bends and kick your legs over or hang like a monkey from whatever you can pull yourself up onto. You are strong and muscular and more athletic than I ever could be. You are surrounding by some really wonderful people that you picked to be in your life. I am so glad you have great friends. Friends make life better. M, I don’t know how you see yourself, but know– You are strong, full of magic, and beautiful from the inside out.
Trust your judgement. It will fail you here and there, but you get better at being in the world each time you make a mistake. But you have a good, level head on your shoulders. You like your mischief and jokes, but you know how to keep yourself safe and when to ask for help. Those two things will frame the rest. Trust your gut– you know what is bad news, what is too far, and what is the right thing. Be true to it. Always.
Shortly after your birthday, you started a new schedule to spend time with Dad. You pretty much hate it and I feel awful that I didn’t really include you in the discussion. I make a lot of decisions for you and with this one I made things harder for you. I want you to know, I didn’t mean to make things harder. When Dad is healthy and doing well, you should pack the time in, Kid. I never know how long it will last. You are right though, it was a big change. I should have worked in time to adjust. So just know, I’m sorry. I’m here to help you through it and I’ll do better next time, peanut.
Third grade is almost over. I am excited for our summer. I have a lot of things I am hoping to cram in. Toes in the sand. Spray parks. Museums. Long, wooded walks with the dog and your slow-poke sisters. BBQs. Jumping into pools. And reading to you some favorite stories in the hammock. It is a big list, but I can’t wait to try our best to fill your summer with it. The years coming will have you with your friends more and me less… and I want all the time I can get, frankly.
When you were born, I thought I would never forget your weight or the hour of your birth. Those details though are lost in my brain– yet immortalized on paper and your birth certificate. I have not lost that feeling that something magical had just happened.
You were so small. Rose bud lips. Chunky wrists and thighs. Baby smell. The most favorites thing I have ever inhaled. You came in the middle of the mess, but it was so perfect. At the time, Miss M, I didn’t know where we were going, but I knew it was gonna be together. We would do it together and everything else would fall into place. I held you sleeping little body, your weight settled deeply into my arms, and I knew having you was going to change my life is ways I couldn’t even comprehend. Which was crazy, kid, because I had no idea how to be a mother. I hadn’t done it before. So happy birthday to you, my first. You made me my favorite thing: a mom.
I have loved you the longest.