Today you’re seven. Lucky number seven. I know I say this every year, but I really can’t believe it. Every year that passes seems to go by more and more quickly. Why is that? Why is it your first year felt like a million years, but every year since has passed by in mere second? I’m going to blink and you’ll be twenty!
This year was full of change for our family, and much of it revolved around you and your well-being. After six years of daycare and after-school care, we finally made a big switch, and now I am home with you and your brother much more than before. You were always so thoughtful and well-adjusted to your crazy schedule, but somewhere along the line we realized having two parents working over 50 hours a week out of the home wasn’t a good long-term plan for us. I knew you’d be excited about this new setup, but I honestly wasn’t prepared for how much it would affect our relationship. This is a whole new world for us, Lulu, and we’re doing our best to learn our new roles. All in all, you seem so much happier and healthier than you were last year, and that’s all that really matters. The rush, rush life we led before is still around, but we have much more control over it now. We both needed a break from watching the clock, and you have thrived on this change.
I wrote in your birthday card that I was so proud of the young lady you’re growing in to (you said, “aw, mom!” when you read it), and that is absolutely the truth. I am watching you every day, transforming from my baby to my big girl to my young lady, and so far I’ve been thrilled. You are artistic and open-minded, every day you surprise me with your constant joy and empathy toward others. Your heart is so huge, Lulu, and you want everyone on Earth to feel it’s love. You don’t see differences in people, just similarities, and you are always thinking of ways to help when someone is feeling low. When I watch you with your friends and peers, my heart swells with pride, until I realize I have almost nothing to do with that part of you. You are who you are, I never taught you to be this way, you just always have been. I can take no credit for that big heart of yours, but I promise to do everything I can to keep it healthy and full.
I have started to worry about you, Lulu, in ways I didn’t before. Your personality and gifts are so precious, but I can already see them being exploited by others. Kids who want something of yours, which you’ll give away without question. Adults who want you to conform to their idea of normal. Of course I want you to always be yourself, and never care what others think, but I’m a realistic person and I know the older you get the harder this will be. You care so much about the suffering of others, and I hope that exposing you to some hard truths won’t cause you to become disenchanted or depressed about the state of our world. I want you to always feel like doing something, anything, is not a small thing. I have an inkling that you will change the world someday, but it may not be through some huge government role or by being a famous inventor. Maybe you’ll be a kind woman who helps strangers with their grocery bags? That’s not a small thing to the person you are helping. Nor to me.
As we enter this new phase of parenthood, one where your dad and I have to try and let you go a bit so you can learn who you want to be, I’m finding challenges of my own. I’m working on keeping my mouth quiet and letting you figure things out on your own, but it’s not easy, especially when I see you may be hurt. However, I know it’s important, so while I am trying to somehow keep you safe in my little cocoon, I’m also attempting to let you spread your own wings. It’s an impossible task, but we’re working on it. I hope you’ll cut me some slack when you see me royally screwing up, as I will do (often). I am learning along with you, and I know we are going to teach each other so much in the upcoming years.
I always tell you that it was you that made us a family. That’s so true, my sweet girl. The other day I told you the story of your birth for the first time and you sighed and put your head on my chest. You listened and laughed as I told you about how I “needed” a grilled cheese sandwich from Sonic, so I made your dad get one for me before we went to the hospital. “That’s my favorite food,” you said. “Maybe it was me that wanted it? I just told you from inside.” You’re probably right, Lulu. You always have a way of telling me what I need before I even know it myself.
I am so proud of what we have, Lulu. I’m so proud of the mom I have become, and it’s all because of you. You taught me how to do this. And you still are, every day.
I love you so much, my sweet girl.