We made your birthday truffles together today. You request these rich globs of goodness every year, and usually I’m the one who makes them, or I have to be engaged in some serious damage control to make sure you don’t burn yourself on the hot melted chocolate or splatter our counter with the sweet liquid. Not today. You shaped all the balls yourself and then deftly dipped them into the lake of chocolate. You chattered as your hands kept busy, and I thought about how much I was enjoying your company and how fun it was that we could carry on a real conversation while cooking together, and I didn’t have to stress out about chocolate flying all over the place or you plunging your hands into the Oreo mixture and then licking your fingers.
I also couldn’t help thinking how old you’ve seemed lately. You’re tall like your daddy. You just keep growing. You’re a natural nurturer, too – a great big sister. I’m so lucky to have you around to help me with all the littles around here.
There are so many things I love about you and this delightful stage.
To name just a few:
- Your boundless energy (even if it tires us all out sometimes and leads to head contusions on a friend’s forehead).
- The way your cheeks flush and a smile never leaves your face when you’re on the soccer field.
- How brave you were to confide in me when a peer at your homeschooling classes was excluding you and how you weren’t going to let her or anyone else drag your lively, happy spirit down.
- The bridge of your noise and how it’s lightly dusted with freckles so faint that only a mother would notice.
- How you always want me to sing along with the notes you play during piano practice.
- Your self-assurance and guile.
- The way the girl in you is suddenly emerging and you want to accessorize with jewelry and a purse, but you still wear goofy, mismatched socks (this might be one of the things I love about you best – how you’re not afraid to be your own person, to have dinosaur and pirate parties while your girly friends are fawning over princesses, to wear colorful socks even if they don’t match the rest of your ensemble because everyone needs a little color in their life).
- Your giggle.
- Your hair’s honey highlights and how there’s one unruly, wavy section near the nape of your neck that reminds me of your spunky side.
- Your determination and tenacity. These traits caused me much anguish when you were younger and used to hold in your poop (15 days is your record) or when you exhibited brilliant defiance as a toddler or fought bedtime as if it were the apocalypse. But now I’m seeing that you are emerging as a young woman of conviction and strength. You’re still a little girl, I know, but you’re not afraid to let your feelings known or to be yourself. Don’t ever change.
- How you still don’t say your “r’s” just right all the time.
- Your unflagging optimism (you take after your Gaba [pictured right with Madeline and little sister Rae] and Uncle Josh)
- Your empathetic heart and how loving you are with your sisters and baby brother and me, too. I’ll never forget when I was crumpled in a corner crying and your toddler self shuffled over to me. You put your tiny hand on my back and started patting me. “It’s ‘otay,’ Mommy.” And it was – very much “otay” with you there by my side.
- How willing you are to forgive when I let you down and how quickly you ask for forgiveness when you haven’t shown your best self.
- The fact that you asked for steak, buttery pasta with cheese, raw red bell peppers, and spinach sautéed with garlic and olive oil for your birthday dinner. What 7-year-old requests spinach for their birthday dinner?
- How, when I was trying to get the pumpkin bread you’d requested for your birthday breakfast out of the pan and it collapsed and I said, “Well, hopefully it will still taste alright,” and you said, “Mama, what have you ever made that hasn’t tasted good?” You’re my number one fan. Thank you for always encouraging me.
- Your perspective on life through the prism of your wonder-seeking heart and through the lens of camera; you notice so much more than the disillusioned eyes of adults take in. Daddy and I gave you a camera for your birthday, and you were thrilled. You’ve been documenting everything, and I love to see how you see our life that seems so ordinary when it’s happening but glows in an extraordinary light in your creative pictures.
My sweet, big girl, I could go on and on about what I love about you. From the day you landed in my arms, alert and squirmy even as a newborn, my life has been more richly blessed than I ever could have imagined.
You are growing into such a fine, young lady. You never stop making me proud.
Happy birthday! Here’s to lucky seven. I have a feeling this is going to be a very, very good year.
I love you so much.