Dear Girlie Bird,
Sweet girl, you are turning eleven. ELEVEN! It’s not typically thought of as a milestone year, but in these years, they all feel like milestones. Maybe even more so than in the 4-9 years. I look back on each birthday and the first few are so distinct, and though I can remember each one individually when I try, they run together for a few years, but the last couple are as distinct as the first few.
When you were born I remember praying every single minute that I could be an adequate mother for you. I prayed I could just be enough. Not because “just enough” was all I wanted to be. Like most new moms, I wanted to be Super Mom. I wanted to be perfect. But from the first second, I knew I wouldn’t be perfect. No parent is perfect, and I never harbored any illusion that I would be the exception. That’s not to say that I wasn’t certain I could do better than some other moms out there, but I knew I would screw up some things. But I kept praying, “Dear Lord, please let me get this right, or at least mostly right. Let me be the best mom I’m capable of being. Let me protect her safety, her spirit, her heart, and her intellect. Let me teach her about You, about herself, about the world. Let me be a little bit of the mother she deserves.”
It was nearly a panicked feeling. I was confident I could get through those newborn days. I knew I could clean up any blow out, power through breastfeeding or be okay with switching to bottles, tolerate the sleep deprivation. I was totally confident in my ability to get through those first few days, months, even years. I remember your grandmother and my aunts praising me for being “such a good mother” in those early days and I laughed. I had no trouble remembering to keep you in a t-shirt, make sure there was always extra socks in the bag, or researching car seats. That was the easy part! Diapers are nothing, but the hard part was out there. The hard part was a decade or so away. I would go to bed and say my prayers and break into cold sweats thinking about what was ahead. Babyhood was easy, but what about when she can talk, and think, and get into real trouble? What about when she starts asking questions, making her own friends, having opinions? What about when she isn’t pacified by a kiss and a popsicle?
And here we are. You are your own person. You are an amazing, beautiful, caring, sweet, brilliant, kind, courageous, awesome person! You blow me away with who you are. I can’t believe I know you, much less get to be your mother. I still feel so inadequate for the task, but I know that loving you, praying for both of us, and following my heart will get us through the next few years. I don’t know what those years will hold, but I know I’m just as committed to getting through them as the day your were born. And just as scared. I’m going to screw some of it up. You’re going to screw up. I will always forgive you, and I hope you can forgive me.
You have made me so much prouder than I ever imagined. I am proud of how you think, who you are, and the even the people you choose to spend your time with. I pray that you will always make such wonderful choices in friends. The group you have surrounded yourself with at school is as smart and funny as you are, and they appreciate your most wonderful qualities. I trust them to be loyal and solid friends to you for a long time. I’m proud of them, too.
These next few years are going to be so full of changes and challenges. So many things will change and develop. I am thrilled to be able to witness this transformation that has already begun. You are not a little girl anymore. You’re well on your way to becoming a wonderful young woman. Every day brings a little more maturity and a little less of that little girl. It is not going to be a smooth ride all the way. There are going to be times when you feel like the world is ending. You will hate me a little, probably more than a few times. I can take it. I promise that nothing I ever do will be motivated by anything but love for you and your brothers. I promise that every decision your dad and I make through the rest of your lives will be based on what’s best for you three, for our family. It’s an easy promise for me to make because we don’t know how to do anything else. Even when we get it wrong, and we will get it wrong sometimes, you can know that we will do what we really believe is best for our children.
I guess I’ve rambled on enough for now. You’re ELEVEN! Happy Birthday, sweet Girlie Bird. I love you so much. You are the baby that made me a mommy, you made us more than a couple but a family. You are my only daughter and I can’t imagine a more amazing one. You are the fourth generation of a first born daughter, and I have no idea what that means, but it’s pretty cool, right?
I love you, baby.
Your Mommy, Bird