My lovely daughter,
Today you are nine years old. As I wrote you your lunch note yesterday, I reflected a bit on the past nine years – or rather, eight years and 364 days – how quickly it feels like it’s gone by. How it seems that one day, I was sitting in the back seat of the car, hunched protectively over your infant car seat on your trip home from the hospital, wondering just when the rest of the world became such bad drivers and started listening to their stereos so loudly — and then I blinked and you’re executing an arabesque on a balance beam in front of hundreds of people.
How did we get from there to here?
It’s gone so quickly.
And while I’m not, nor have I ever been that mom that mourns each phase that passes (be relieved, sweet daughter, it means that you probably won’t have to tolerate quite so much crying from me), I still hope that I’m treasuring each moment as I should – embracing every second of this time. Sometimes I’m afraid that it will take just one more quick blink and I’ll be watching you cross a stage, accepting your diploma and moving towards whatever next stage of greatness awaits you.
I’ll be proud then. I know I will. I will know that it’s what I’ve prepared you for all these years. In my head, when I think about you turning nine, I think, “She’s halfway to eighteen.”
Slow down a little, world.
This has been such an amazing year for you – and I probably say that every year – but frankly, girly, you just get more and more amazing as each year goes by. I’m not just saying that because I’m your mother – there really isn’t a contract that says I have to compliment you – but I do because I mean it.
In the past year, I watched you give gymnastics a real try – despite the rocky beginning, you have really grown so much as an athlete. I look at you practice and I see how strong you’ve gotten, how much more confident you look when you’re executing a new skill. I see muscles where you once had none. I see an excitement when you master a stunt, a sense of pride. And while those achievements are your own – I had nothing to do with them, the practice and hard work is your own – I am still so proud when I see you.
I go to your meets and I think to myself when I see you, “That one – the one with the long blonde ponytail. She’s mine.” I sit and with camera pressed to my face (of course), I am glued to each routine, from the second you take the floors to when you look at the judge when you’ve completed the routine. All the while I think to myself, I am so proud of her.
I hope I tell you often enough how proud I am.
This year, I started leaving notes in your bag every day – I wanted to be sure that each day you know that you mean a lot to me, that you’re special to me, and how much I love you. When I found that pile of notes in your cubby, when you said you were saving them, it made my heart so truly happy – because I am glad that they mean something to you, also. I never wanted you to question that each day you are on my mind, each day you are in my heart. Always.
Yesterday, you received a card with birthday money in the mail – you told me last night, “I think I know what I want to spend it on! CHAPTER BOOKS!” You are a reader – and this makes me so completely happy. You’re a good student all around, actually – but the reading, well, that steals my heart. Life is never boring if you have books and you love books. When you have a love for words and understand the magic of words, the world is a wide open expanse of possibility – and there is nothing to hold you back from whatever adventure you seek – between the pages or beyond.
Every year, I write the letter to you – afraid I will leave something out – some major characteristic you developed over the year and that when I go back and re-read it, I will wish I had said that this was the year you did this or that – and I fear that the letter to you won’t say what I mean for it to –
But what I mean more than anything else is this:
Happy birthday to you, my daughter. You are nine today. You were a part of my heart before I even held you in my arms. Once I saw your face, I knew I’d go to the ends of the earth to show you that you are loved, that I love you, that you mean the world to me. I will say it often, and if I’m not saying it know that I’m thinking it. And if I’m being a grouchy, cranky mom, know that not far beneath that, my love for you is still there ALWAYS.
I love you with my whole heart and I am SO SO VERY LUCKY to be your mom.