A few weeks ago, you turned 9-years-old. I hardly ever write on this blog anymore, but every year on your birthday, I want to make sure I get something written here. You are such an interesting, fun, wonderful kid, and that certainly hasn’t changed in the last year. But other things about you have changed, and I know if I don’t get them down in words, they will float away, just like all memories do.
The other day a friend of mine posted something to social media about how parenting is basically deciding where in the house you want to keep the giant pile of acorns that your children bring home and HAVE TO KEEP BECAUSE THEY ARE TREASURES. I was immediately taken back to your preschool days, when you’d come home with random items in your pocket…an acorn, yes, but also a lego guy, a feather, three pennies, a nickel and, of course, a couple of rocks. Those days feel so far away to me now, but I still keep a jar of your trinkets on a shelf in our kitchen. It reminds me of how much you’ve grown, and of how much I have loved being your mom.
Preschool Tate was cute, and honestly, so is 9-year-old Tate. You’re my own, real-life Peter Pan, a little imp who sometimes gets into trouble, but who easily skirts out of it with a wink and a smirk. In fact, the smirk is your go-to expression, including in all school photos and selfies. You pretty much always have a twinkle in your eye that suggests you might be up to no good. But mostly you just like to have fun, and you don’t often think about boundaries or limits.
This year has been difficult in ways I couldn’t have imagined when you blew out your candles last year. Since you were 2-years-old, I’ve worked from home and been able to be there for you whenever you needed me. If you were sick, I was there. If you had a school event, I was there. If you needed a snack or help with homework or someone to enter the password into the TV, I was always there. But this year I began working outside of the home again, and all of sudden, I wasn’t there. We are so fortunate, because you have a village of people around you (and me!) who have stepped up to fill the gaps since I went back to work. In fact, sometimes I think you like it better this way, as you get to spend time with neighbors, our super-fun babysitter, and at playdates with friends. Your relationship with your dad has strengthened in immeasurable ways, as he has been the parent volunteering at school and coaching your teams, instead of me taking on every role. We have gained much, much more than we lost.
This year we also moved to a new home, one that we chose, in part, because it kept us at your elementary school and near your friends. You love our new house, and it’s been so fun to see you here with friends and cousins, running around our new backyard and playing football on the front lawn. There has been so much change this year, and you have handled it all in stride. I’m so proud of you.
We also had an unfortunate experience where we, as parents, made a mistake and kept you in a situation that wasn’t healthy for you. Parents make mistakes, buddy. In fact, I make them every, single day. But this one ate away at me because I knew from the beginning it wasn’t a good fit for you, but I kept you in it because I didn’t want to seem overprotective or inflexible. I let my fear of making trouble direct how I parented, and I deeply regret it. But when we finally did make the decision to move on, you never blamed us. You kept a good attitude, even when it would’ve been understandable for you to lose your cool. You stuck it out and you held your head high, and I’m so grateful for how you navigated all of it. You are an incredible person, Tate.
My hope for you this year is that you find a way to give yourself a little grace, kiddo. You are a very competitive person, and sometimes that gets the best of you. It seems especially difficult because you are someone who tends to just be really good at almost everything you try. But then, when something doesn’t come as easily, you can get really down on yourself. As you get older, there are going to be so many things that you won’t be the best at, but I don’t want you to give up. I want you to enjoy the experience of trying something new, failing, and trying again. I want you to encourage yourself, instead of putting yourself down when you’re not perfect. You’ve already been working on this, and I can see a big difference. In fact, you just went snowboarding for the first time, and your dad said you fell constantly…but you always got back up. That’s the good stuff, kiddo.
I am so proud to be your mom, Tate. I cannot wait to see what this next year will bring!