You are officially twelve days into seven. By now it should come as no surprise to you that this birthday letter is a whole lot of days late. The right words have been harder to come by the bigger you get.
We’ve had another banner year kiddo. We moved (again) to the home you will grow up in and move out of to start your own adventures. Shawny asked me to marry him while you were singing and twirling around us and then immediately asked you for permission to be your “other dad”. In case you forget when you’re a sullen, fuming teenager—you were totally thrilled at the prospect, face timing everyone you knew to tell them all about it. You currently are wandering around missing your two bottom teeth, much to my dismay. It is a tangible reminder of just how grown up you’re getting. You have thrived in first grade and genuinely love going to school. You’ve scored a 100 on every single spelling test except one, where you got a word wrong because you got distracted and forgot to finish writing it (apparently we’re related after all).
This has also been the year of the distracted Mama. Between wedding planning and working and just general life responsibilities I spend so much time in my day telling you “just one minute” and answering your questions through a fog of a thousand other thoughts and to-do lists. I worry constantly that I’m not giving you enough, that you’re feeling neglected. That 10 years from now you’re going to look back at this time in our life and remember me crying about invitation envelopes or fuming about seating arrangements and not remember the February vacation we spent doing something fun every single day (ice skating and beach walking and bookstores and museums). Or that you’re going to remember all the times I told you there was no time for a bedtime story and not the nights that I let you read three books to me in a row.
Your family birthday party occurred the day after my bridal shower. I was exhausted, frazzled and completely wracked with guilt that there was not one ounce of Pinterest evident in your celebration. But you see, you’re always surprising me. You spent the day with a giant grin plastered on your face and at bedtime you told me that your favorite part of the day was not presents or cake but spending time with your friends and family. Another valuable life lesson orchastrated by you.
Shawn and I got you a swingset this year. It was installed the day before your birthday and when we got back from a celebratory dinner with Mimi and Grampa, you and I leapt out of the car and sprinted to the backyard. We dove on to the swings and tried out every last feature together, giggling amid shouts of “Come see!”. Shawn looked at me with a sly smile and said “I’m not sure who is more excited”.
This is what parenting has been like this year for me. So many moments of worry and guilt and arguements and tears followed by moments of pure, exhilirating joy. The kind of happiness that you feel in the tips of your toes and to the very top of your head.
One night last week, you invited me to come swing with you. Inititally I said no. The kitchen was a mess and I still had work to do and…the list is endless. But watching you swing in solitude from the kitchen window tugged unexpectedly at my heart and I realized with a jolt that before I knew it you wouldn’t be asking me to do anything with you any more. I knew my position as playmate in your life is tenuous at best. So I joined you. As we were swinging lazily side by side, you talked incessently. About how beautiful it was in our backyard, about how excited you were for the wedding, about how special it was that Shawn chose to love you when he didn’t have to, about how Shawn probably tried and tried not to love me but finally couldn’t take it anymore and just had to give in. Having this unfiltered view into your mind was something pretty special. Because with each day you become less an extension of me and very much every inch your own, independent person.
My days start with listening for the sometimes shuffle sometimes speedy patter of your feet coming down the hall and then having you slide into bed between Shawn and I for some early morning cuddles. At the end of my day, before going to bed, I sneak into your room to marvel at you, for just a minute (the amount of pictures I have of you sleeping on my phone are probably a little creepy) and plant a kiss on the top of you head with a whispered “I love you". In between, there may be raised voices and exsasperated sighs and slammed doors but my day always begins and ends with you. Being your mama is what I measure every other experience in my life against.
No matter what kind of craziness life may bring to us my girl, you will always come first.
Happy 7th Birthday to the very best thing to happen to her Mama.