I write the girls a love letter for their birthdays every year. My first born turned ten at the of February. I’ve been belated with them, but I’m still here trying. I have piled up drafts to work on, but these seem the most important thing I have to write I am blessed in life with these girls of mine.
You are the one who made me a mother. I loved you the longest of all. Longer than Match, longer than your siblings, and now that you’ve been along a whole decade I’ve even loved you longer than I’ve loved your Dad. You were the one who taught me that there is such a thing as love at first sight. I had thought I knew what that feeling was, but turns out that I had it wrong with your Dad. I had been waiting for you to show up. You and your sisters are my favorite love story in life.
While it seems a little impossible that you have existed for an entire decade in the world– you just turned ten. A milestone that, like most memorable things, is bittersweet. I mostly feel grateful that we got to ten. Some days, oh boy, I worried. Time and age is just one of those things life does not guarantee. Stillborn, miscarriage, tragic accident, crash, illness, violence, frozen, drowned, and more on the endless list of ways life ends in this world. Motherhood is a place where pure fear and pure love live to simultaneously close inside the heart. I find myself mostly just content that we’re together and we’re okay.
You are almost my size. When we began this so long ago, I never realized in ten years you would be too big to carry. I thought ten would be still little and waist size. That at ten I would stil be able to scoop you up because ten is still new and fresh and inexperienced. I mean, I am still figuring out how to be an adult in the world and I have twenty eight more years as bedrock than you do. How can you be almost adult size, too? It seems too fast and it is the one thing that catches me off guard. You should have came with a better warning label than the classic, “Blink and you miss it. It goes by fast.” Sigh. Well, baby, all of this is an exercise in getting you on your own journey in adulthood. Maybe I need the cue to make sure I stay on track with the life advice and lessons.
M, you are the kid here who never just accepts anything blindly. You were made to rock some boars. It is an important and lovely part of you. Yet, like all good things, there is a harsh side to it. Usually this leads to yelling or a slammed door because you are steadfast in your stance. You have that thing inside where you do not feel right if you hadn’t haven’t been heard or said the last thing in a conversation– which is hard to parent sometimes. I love the fact it is a well laid out argument of what things are unfair and how to make them work for you. That you stick up for yourself and I never want you to lose that. I just think, sometimes, because we live in a world filled with other people with their needs to, that you have to pick times to also bend. If you want to be heard more, you have to listen and acknowledge how other’s feel differently. For the past ten years, I have known that even if in the heat of an argument where we don’t agree that you heard me. I hardly ever have to talk to you about the same problem twice. I see it, kid. I know and it makes me really proud to be your Mom. You are a good kid with a good heart and a brain that is light years ahead of me some days. You just have to sometimes decide that the bowl of peas being by your plate at dinner isn’t a hill you need to die on. Use that fire for the big stuff. Learn to put it out on the small things. Because while one day you’ll look back and realize small things were the real big things– it isn’t the peas, darling.
You, at ten, got the last bow. Oh boy was I proud of you, Willy Wonka. You get a lot of doors shut for you because Dad and I live almost an hour a part. Team sports, weekend practices, and early starts are things that just don’t work for your life in two homes. Yet, we still have a lot of stuff left on the table to make your life interesting. Everyone gets in on the fight for you to have Drama Club in your life. It is amazing. I bump into people who I don’t know well and I often hear, your kid was amazing as “Smee” or “Willy Wonka.” I see how you shine so often that these moments catch me off guard. You, darling, have something there. Even if it never takes you all the way to Broadway (I hope it does if that’s what what you want), baby, it is still there and don’t forget to to feed that piece of you. Doing things that light you up , and I mean like truly, deeply , is the way you’re meant to spend your one precious life. I’ll come cheer you on and run lines with you– all the way from local theater to Broadway.
The tales of fourth grade are mostly lost to me. I hear headlines which is how life with you in school goes. This year though the headlines were so good. You got chosen for morning safety patrol which is a big responsibility. You finally got excited for stories and I will forever be indebted to your teacher for taking the time to do read-out-loud in her classroom. You came home with stories inside you: Number the Stars, Wonder, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The literacy teacher had you read Coraline. You asked me to take you for some of these books. They now sit fondly on your shelf like friends. I dug out my Percy Jackson books for you to adventure into next over the summer. I hope you love books like I do. They are a way to understand and love the world and yourself.
You have good friends. I worry a lot of about school and the things that happen there, but every once in a while I get a highlight and you make you worry less. I am often proud of you. That sense of fairness and integrity that lives deeply in your core is really wonderful. It had you and a fifth grade boy climbing the storage container after school dismissal to retrieve a classmates stuffed animal that had gotten tossed up there. The details are sketchy, but some sort of monkey-in-the-middle had got awry. You saw a problem, an injustice, and you helped fix it– a sign that you’re gonna be okay in this world, kid. You are gonna be a person who does love more than pain. You sat at recess with the girl who was told her lunch smelt weird. You tell the class troublemaker– who has his own issues and finds school a hard place to be– to shut it when his words are harsh. Your school friends don’t know that you have a harsh tongue at home some days. Yet, you use it at school in a way that matters. You in your own way demand your peers bring their best stuff to the classroom. You have the leadership thing and that responsible thing and that caring thing in you that are keys to be a wonderful adult.
I love that you have really become a sister. You take care of your younger siblings and are good to them in ways I was worried would never happen. You still drive each other nuts and you are hard on them, but you read to them, you sit with them, you play with them. I love that you and Blue Eyes– both ten now– have a thing. That you two are family who are friends. That we moved you into the same room and while there are some growing pains– it is mostly good. You sometimes wish it was just you and me like the old days– but I think that what we have is pretty much way better. I think most days you know that too.
Anyway, I love you. There aren’t words for how much. I’m proud of you. I love being your Mom. I can’t wait to see how the summer of you being ten will unfold, the way fifth grade will start, and the wonderful ways that we’ll slide into your eleventh year. Even though you might not fit on my hips and be carried the way your baby sister does– you will always fit perfectly in my arms .
I love you more than salted dark chocolate caramel bars.