Though it isn't technically your birthday yet, you've already declared that you are celebrating birthday week from now on, so I guess it's okay for me to write this a little bit early. You've always been a fan of early.
You'll be 10 years old in a few days. 10. Double digits.
It seems like just yesterday that the little girl with the long golden hair was dancing in circles on her tippy toes in this living room. I think it really was yesterday.
It all goes so fast, sweet girl.
And you? You always want it to go faster.
Rarely content to be where you are, it seems like you're always longing for the days in the future where you'll be older. You've always been that way. Trying, and usually succeeding, in keeping up with your older siblings.
We dreamt of a world with you here long before you arrived. You were the one who urged us to change those life plans of ours with intention. We thought we would only ever have two children, but something told us both that we weren't quite done yet. Only a few short weeks after your father and I decided to try again, I found myself reeling in the desert, the sky spinning as we stood in front of the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas.
I didn't need a pregnancy test to tell me you were on your way. I already knew.
Your pregnancy was a difficult one, from beginning to end, but once you arrived everything was different. You were unlike your brother and sister before you. Quiet. Joyful. Content. And gorgeous.
Oh, you were such a beautiful baby.
You had a head full of hair already when you were born, which explained all that heartburn I endured (even through those cravings for hot wings almost constantly surely made it worse). You were a mellow baby, squishy and happy and delicious in every way.
As you became a toddler, you started to show both your sense of humor and your stubbornness, refusing to say anything but "no" and "mama". You'd call your father "mama", then giggle. About 200 times a day. You haven't stopped antagonizing him yet.
You are passionate about everything, a feeler like I am. It's overwhelming sometimes to feel everything you feel so deeply. Believe me, I know. Trust me when I tell you that it will get better as you get older, and I'll help you along the way.
Everything is bigger for you. Your hopes, your dreams, your disappointments. It's all bigger. It just is. When the rest of the world doesn't understand you, know that I always will.
The rest of the world is going to try, oh is it going to try, to tell you not to feel so much. The rest of the world is going to try and quiet your passion, silence your voice, convince your heart that you shouldn't feel everything you feel.
Don't listen to them.
Stay true to who you are.
This thing that we do, you and I...it doesn't come without negatives, but oh, it is something amazing too. You'll see. I promise.
Your capacity for love is endless. It just means you have to deal with a lot of other stuff that life will throw at you. You'll be okay, though. I promise.
You're a worrier like me too. I wish that part of my personality hadn't transferred so much to you, but it has. I'll do my best to help you.
You love to document the world around you. You've loved to take pictures for what seems like forever and recently fell in love with writing. I hope that you find comfort in these forms of expression, that they give you an outlet in a world that won't always make sense to you, that you find some peace with them both.
When you were a little girl, the thrills you'd seek always involved speed. You even stripped the tires on your little Power Wheels Jeep spinning them so much. Don't always go so fast. Life will go fast enough, I assure you. Slow down sometimes.
There is a part of you that will always be my little girl, the one who still snuggles in with me in bed in the morning. The one who asks for help with things you've known how to do forever, just because you still want us around. The one who wants to go and do all the things, but wants us there, watching, just in case you need us.
And we'll be there.
We'll always be there.
Of all my babies, these past few years have been the hardest on you. You've absorbed more, seen more, felt more, cared more, loved more, hurt more. I wish that there was a way to ease all these burdens life has set on your shoulders. I do the best I can to help you carry them, but I know I can't take them away completely.
It's okay though.
You're strong. So much stronger than you know.
You're brave. That part of you that makes you feel everything more than most people also pushes you harder. You run until your lungs burn. You won't stop until you finish. You don't give up. You play and play and play.
You're smart. You are so smart. You have a perception about the world most people could never imagine. You see things most people never can or will. You remember everything. I swear you've been here before. You have what we call an "old soul", the wisdom that just seems to come from having done this all already. You are smart in ways that tests at school could never begin to measure, which is why I always tell you that I don't care about them. Not even a little bit. All I ever ask is that you do your best, because your best will always be good enough.
Always remember that.
Happy birthday, sweet girl. I love you.
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