Tuesday, January 10, 2017

3,650 days

My girl,

Ten years ago today, I had no idea how much my life was going to change.  You burst into our lives on a balmy January morning, and we haven't been the same since.

I distinctly remember taking you home from the hospital.  Dad's speed as we drove down Man O' War Boulevard was around 20 miles per hour because he was so nervous about having a baby in the car.  When we got home, I felt so overwhelmed that I looked at Dad and said, "What do we do now?"

Despite my first-time mom nerves, you immediately flourished.  From the beginning, you have treated life like the great adventure that it is.  There have been very few things that scare you, although from time to time, your fearlessness has frightened me.  As you grow older, you're still an open book, and you still like to take chances.  There have been many times we have shaken our heads and wondered what you were thinking with various choices, but you explain your reasoning with such earnestness that's it's hard to get mad or stay mad for too long.  Almost every conversation we have is peppered with "Yeah, but what if...?" from you.  That can be a slippery slope, but I know that at least half of the time, your mind is whizzing along with all of the what-ifs spinning around in it.  That must be exhausting, because on the rare occasions that you crash, you crash hard.  As a matter of fact, you rarely do things without doing them full-tilt boogie.

Your emotional intelligence has grown in leaps and bounds over the last year.  You're fairly even-keeled for someone who loves to be a total goofball.  I think one of the reasons you enjoyed your acting class so much was that it gave you a chance to really shine on stage instead of having to contain your hilarity to our house and our family.  Don't get me wrong: I love your humor, and I love that you make me laugh each and every day.  I was so proud, though, to watch you perform so well in front of others.  You constantly surprise me with your grace and poise.

As always, you are a wonderful sister to Dallas.  I know it's hard sometimes to be older and expected to watch over him, but it's truly in your nature to make certain he is always included and safe.  One of the best sounds in the world to me is hearing you both laugh together no matter where you are or what you're doing.  Keep being a good sister to him, and that goodness will come back to you the rest of your life in the form of your friendship with him.  After all, there are not too many people who see you at your best and your worst and still adore being with you quite like a sibling does.

Your kindness makes me want to be a better person.  You have never met an enemy in your life, and I don't imagine that will change any time soon.  You tend not to give up on people who have hurt your feelings, and you still find a way to stick up for yourself.  We desperately need that in the world, and I have no doubt that you will continue to sparkle in that capacity as an adult.  It makes me so happy to know that you are the future of our world.

Staying focused on one thing has never been on your agenda.  It used to worry me until I stopped to really think about it.  You're not afraid to try new things to see if you like them, even if it means you won't really be good at them; conversely, you're not embarrassed to say that an activity isn't for you and move on to something else.  It reminds me of a quote by Oona D. Mulkey: "Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it." Somehow, you have the ability to realize that not everything has to be a stepping stone to your future life path; sometimes, things are just fun to do for the experiences alone.  You know how to laugh at yourself, and I admire that trait in a kid your age.  We all goof up, and if we can't laugh about it later, life is going to get pretty tedious. You have taught me that life doesn't have to be so serious 24/7 and that there is always time for dessert.

As the first kid, you're the one we have probably messed up with the most because we're just learning ourselves.  With each new phase of your life, I think Dad and I are getting more confident with our decisions, but we always will worry that we're not doing something right for our baby.  As you get older, we have to loosen our grip a bit, and that is going to be bittersweet.  Be patient with us.  We love you more than anything in the world, and we're trying our best every day to help mold you into a decent human being.  You have made it easy, though, because love and joy and forgiveness radiate from the depths of your soul.

I honestly don't know where life is going to take you.  I can tell you for sure, though, that I am thrilled to be along on the ride with you.  I am eager to see what your future holds and how far you will soar.  My birthday wish for you is to continue holding constant joy and warmth in your heart. Keep your genuinely sweet way of looking at the world for as long as you can because it is a huge part of who you are, and who you are is absolutely perfect.

Happy Golden Birthday, baby!!  Ten is going to be a fabulous year.
I love you, my bunny,