To my baby girl (and her feet) -
Today is your birthday. You are now nine. Or at least you will be at 3:19pm this afternoon. I know you are a stickler about that fact, declaring to your dad when he wished you a happy birthday this morning that you aren't actually nine yet.
I thought I'd share with you what I wrote last year on your eighth birthday. Only a handful of people have read it because, as you know, I hadn't yet widely shared my writing back then; so not many people know I wrote this... not even you. Now, as a year has gone by and more readers are reading what I write, I am sharing this with them, and you, on your birthday this year so they, and you, will know how I see you.
I say how I SEE you rather than how I feel about you because how I feel about you is a given. It is obvious and expected that I love you as a mother loves her child; and it is obvious and expected that I think you are great and perfect and wonderful because you are my daughter. But what is not obvious and expected is how I see who you are so clearly... more clearly than anyone else who knows or meets you, and maybe even more clearly than you see yourself.
One year later, what I wrote below is still true today; yet, even more so. Your awareness, insight, forethought, sensitivity, complexity, and understanding of things way beyond your years astounds me on a daily basis. I know I just used a bunch of words to describe you whose meaning you may not yet fully understand, and that this may lead you to break out your dictionary to look them up (which I love about you). So, I will put it simply... you think, feel and know more and deeper than I, or anyone, would expect you to think, feel and know at your age; and this simple fact sets you apart when all you want to do is fit in.
I wish I could convince you that being different and unique and not blissfully unaware of things is a good thing; but that is something you will hopefully come to understand and embrace as you get older. So for now, to the nine-year-old whose complexity renders her unlike most of her peers, I will just say this... Trust that you are exactly as you were meant to be. Know that you fit in your life just as you should. Be YOU. Believe that the you you are is beautiful, and the you you are becoming is even more so.
On this day, I wish for you to see what I see... to see the you that I see.
Happy 9th. I love you, my gal.
When my daughter was a baby, I loved her feet. Of course, I still love them today; but when she was really little, I couldn't get enough of them. I would kiss them and squeeze them and pretend to gobble them up, all the while exclaiming, "I grew these feet!" over and over again in gleeful animation. She would smile and laugh, delighted by my silly musings, not fully comprehending what I was saying; but nonetheless, highly entertained by me, her personal clown.
As she got older, I continued to playfully declare how I grew her feet, along with the rest of her, in my tummy. I liked to see her face fill with wonder at the thought of this, as I myself was in awe (and frankly, still am) that her beautiful little feet exist on this earth solely because my body fed, nurtured and protected them until they were ready - until she was ready - to leave the safe haven of my womb and be born, on this day, eight years ago.
It wasn't an easy day, to which I'm sure most mothers would attest. However, I have never once proclaimed it to be "one of the best days of my life" as I so often hear other mothers declare about their kids' birth days. I definitely can think of many actual better days. Take my wedding day... now THAT day was the best day of my life, hands down. The way I felt on that day - from the moment I opened my eyes, excited to get married, to the moment I closed them, as a blissful new bride - was nothing short of pure joy, unbridled love and overwhelming happiness, for about 12+ hours straight.
This day, back in 2007... not so much.
Extreme discomfort, tense anxiety, and complete exhaustion defined it... for about 12+ hours straight. And all this in advance of the baby actually being born. Afterward, once the fleeting moments of relief and elation subsided, a different variety of discomfort, anxiety and exhaustion followed, and for many more hours before the day was finally done.
So, even if the hours that made up the day my daughter was born didn't deem it an actual best day of my life, all those laborious hours put together did result in giving me one of the best gifts of my life.
Now tonight as I sit here, having just put my winsome eight-year-old girl to bed after a lovely birthday evening of dinner, homemade chocolate cake, and presents ranging from a pink ballet-themed glittery nightgown to a suction cup bow and arrow set, I am filled with gratitude for this most precious gift.
Possessing a temperament that's a perfect balance of level-headedness and devil-may-care brashness, my daughter cannot be easily summed up in a narrow label of “girly girl” or “tomboy”. Instead, she's a cool mix of contradictions: a voracious reader and dauntingly sharp mathematician who also practices ballet and plays the violin... a beach girl that spends hours at the seashore boogie boarding who also loves camping and dirt bike riding in the dry desert... a devout fan of classic Hollywood movie musicals and science/nature documentaries who will also watch motocross and surfing videos with equal interest and enthusiasm... a mighty girl that asserts she wants to be a scientist when she grows up who also identifies herself as an artist today.
(Yes, when I say "dirt bike" I do, in fact, mean motorcycle. And no, I have not lost my mind... yet. The fact is, I am married to a highly competent motorcyclist whose inherent talent and ability to ride has seduced her to follow him down the dusty trail. Although it does make me a bit anxiety-ridden, I still can't help but be abashedly proud of her and her determination to attempt it, not to mention the fact that she is actually quite good at it.)
I am also surprised that I find it exciting, rather than terrifying, to watch how the contrasting influences her Dad and I have exposed her to are rendering a complex and intriguing little girl. It seems that she has been bestowed with the best parts of both of us - those parts that made us initially fall in love with one another. Imagine that.
This little girl is also a complicated creature, as all females inevitably are... a fact that I don't believe is necessarily a bad thing. But as females go, our beautiful one challenges us with her stubbornness, beguiles us with her wittiness, and inspires us with her innate goodness. She is truly one of the most decent, kindhearted, and generous people I know; and I am so very proud and honored to be her mom.
Happy Birthday my sweet, sweet girl.