Happy Birthday Pumpkin: To My Daughter on Her 8th Birthday

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Dear Pumpkin,

I’ve spent a lot of time this week thinking about your letter for this year. Mostly because after so many years of writing letters for both you and your sister, I’m always wary that I’m going to repeat myself – that some day you’ll find yourself faced with years of these letters and you’re going to finish, look up at me and say, “Mom, REALLY? Did you have to mention every year how I’m such an awful sleeper?” (The answer is yes, yes I do.)

Pay attention to those reoccurrence, though, these things that I repeat year after year, for those will likely give you the truest window of memory, your childhood. How you have woken up painfully early nearly every day of your life from the day you were born.

And you were born at 5:53 in the morning, delivered by the family doctor I have been seeing since the day after your sister was born. From the time I woke up until the time you were born, less than a handful of hours passed. And so begin my life with you.

This has been…a year. You’ve grown in leaps and bounds and you are still very much my little girl all at the same time. You’re so very excited to finally get to ditch riding in the booster seat. Today we’ll go on a booster-seat-less ride somewhere, anywhere, so you can get the most immediate gratification from being eight.

Third grade is on the horizon after you breezed through second grade. Your teacher loved you this past year – which doesn’t surprise me much. She told me how kind you are, how you were friends with anyone, everyone. In a world where boys still have cooties, your teacher said you didn’t object if you happened to be paired with one for classwork. She commented on your heart and how sweet you were. Later in the year, she started to comment on how talkative you became. “It’s a good problem,” she said at our conferences. “I’d much rather report to parents that their child is too social than the opposite.”

You have had a tough time occasionally this year adapting to having two houses – “When I’m with dad, I miss you and the dog. When I’m with you, I miss dad.” I’m grateful for technology to bridge the distances in those moments. I am grateful for FaceTime and for your sister iMessaging me pictures of you both on Friday mornings when you’re with your daddy, because I miss our coffee and doughnuts tradition when you’re not here. Seeing your faces for a Friday morning picture makes it easier for me – because when you’re not here, I miss you too.

You still love dogs – so so much. You have always been this way – when something catches your interest, it grips you and you devour information about it, a nearly unquenchable thirst for knowledge. It used to be dinosaurs when you were smaller, and now – as it has been – it’s dogs. You know so much about them, and I made your birthday cupcakes this year to resemble little dog faces. Your sister and I struggled to break those pretzels just so for those dog ears and dog mouth pieces. You apologized for picking the most difficult recipe in the book. I meant when I said that it wasn’t too difficult and that I was happy to do it.

The other night, a piece of the hardware in my bathroom sink broke and I was struggling to fix it with a steak knife – trying to unjam the drain plug because it was wedged so tightly and wouldn’t come loose and the water in my sink wouldn’t drain. It was ridiculous, in retrospect, but I was frustrated. And so I sat on the bathroom floor pouting about it. You came into the bathroom with a heart shaped sticker, pressed it onto my shirt and you hugged me. You know, you always know, when someone needs a hug, needs to know they are cared about. I am grateful for that.

Your love of animals may at some point turn into experiments with vegetarianism – and I’m already sensing that. Recently, at Uncle J’s birthday party, you ate a few bites of the barbecued pork and then stopped. It was a pig roast, and yeah, they still had that whole pig carcass on the grill – its face too, even. “I’m just too sad for the little pig to eat anymore,” you told me. Then you filled up on potato chips. Since then, you’ve also expressed concern about how your cupcake feels (I assured you that the cupcake has no feelings) – your big heart holds so many things dear.

You love your sister, even though the two of you still bicker a lot. You hug her and tell her you love her, even though she doesn’t always hug back. You miss her when she’s with her friends and I can tell how you admire her. You’ve just mentioned wanting to do gymnastics again, I’m sure it has more than a little to do with The Princess.

Your eyes are the most beautiful I have ever seen in my life.

You are an amazing reader, and you devour books as I do, as your sister does. The three of us can go in a library, go our separate ways and meet in the middle, all of us with towering stacks of books. By the time we get home again, you’re halfway through your first one. I love that.

You lost SO MANY teeth this year and after months of wide open spaces where teeth should be, they’re finally growing back and it’s fun to see these big teeth in the small teeth places.

Your favorite color is purple.

We sing before you go to bed every night – “I love you so much, I love you so much. I can’t even tell you how much I love you. You’re special to me, you’re special to me. I’m lucky to have you as part of my life. I love you I love you I love you. I love you I love you I love you. I love you so much, I love you so much, I can’t even tell you how much I love you.” Once we sang over FaceTime. It as relaxing a part of my night as it is to yours. Most nights, thirty minutes after I tuck you in, you’ll come back downstairs, ask me to snuggle, and I’ll go to your room and we’ll sing. (You wake up too early, you go to bed too late.)

It’s your birthday. Another year has gone by, sweetpea. I can’t wait to see what eight looks like.

I love you with my whole heart, and I’m so very lucky to be your mom.



About sarah

Sarah is a book nerd, a music lover, an endorphin junkie, a coffee addict. Oh, and a goof ball. She writes, she tweets, and she sings off key.

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