I have to write this letter to you today. Because you turned eight three weeks ago. And your baby brother turns four months old tomorrow. And I was going to write one letter, but that’s not fair. You deserve your own.
I started seeing a therapist slash “parenting consultant” to help me figure out how to be a better parent to your sister. (Don’t worry, this letter will be about you soon.) He had me assess the temperaments of all five of us. I’ll save what he noted about Yelly’s temperament for her letter. The therapist took one look see down your column (See? This letter IS about you!) and said something to the effect of “she’s set for life.” Well, that’s how I’m going to interpret it.
You are easy going and adaptable. You are persistent and a good problem solver. You have determination and grit. You come by all this naturally, but I’d like to think I can take some credit for helping you be able to learn to express and communicate your emotions as well as steering you wide and clear of perfectionist tendencies. That was a lot of my projecting (#therapyvocabulary) on you the struggles I had as a kid (which worked out great for you, but I’m finding isn’t really a relevant approach to raising my other children.)
You are the best kid I could’ve ever asked for--at least the best kid for my parenting. In many ways, you were made to be my daughter and I was made to be your mommy. That’s not to say that we don’t drive each other crazy once in awhile, but you make it pretty fun and easy to be your mommy.
Now that you’re eight (OMG. Five years from being a teen. Halfway to a driver’s license!), you don’t have to use a booster seat. You are four foot, one inch tall. You recently chopped off about eight inches of your curly locks and are sporting a tres chic and sophisticated shoulder-length bob. And you look like you’re twenty-one years old. Except for the fact that you don’t really attempt to wrangle your curls so they give you the air of a mad scientist, but in a totally cute way.
You continue to be a kind, loving, considerate, compromising, bend-over-backwards older sister, despite being bullied, conned and pretzeled by your younger sister. With the birth of your baby brother, your heart doubled and you make sure to kiss him a million and a half times per day.
You love to draw and still love to build things or wonder about the how and why of it all. You are a fantastic reader and generally doing well in school. I did have a recent tiger mother talk with you about a sub-standard rubric for a project you didn’t put a lot of effort into (because I have three kids and ain't nobody got time to tell you to put more effort into your toilet paper tube-rubber band instrument; we’re lucky it even got turned in on time). Amazingly, no tears were shed, so I think I was better at not sounding SO critical and you are developmentally able to take and process a little feedback. The next rubric will tell…
You’re into musicals; anything by Lin-Manuel Miranda. We started reading Harry Potter together and I’m apparently not reading fast enough because you checked out your own copy of the book from the school library to read on your own. So, I’ll just sit over here getting accustomed to being left in the dust.
You had a great soccer season this past year and scored goals and assists despite (or maybe because of) your perpetually united cleats. You still can’t always keep your feet under you and fell at school a few weeks ago, busting open the skin on your brow. First ER visit checked off the list! You were very brave and I’m sorry; I should have never uttered the word “stitches” outside the context of Shawn Mendes. You also recently experienced the trauma of being forgotten at school for the first time. Except, I didn’t forget you. You had an afterschool program that you forgot to go to. So, on the flip side, I didn’t experience any guilt over this fiasco and you’re now braver and wiser for it.
I wanted to write to you about an amazing experience you had recently at a roller rink. Well, it was amazing for me. For you, it was maybe just you being you. But, I want you to know how amazing and wonderfully made you really are. And how proud I am of you. But, you’re daddy beat me to sharing this story with the world. Daddy’s here, I’ll let him tell it… (#namethatmusical)
“My beautiful, smart, fun, caring, loving, determined and amazing daughter, Mari, turns 8 years old today. And while there are plenty of great photos of her smiling, laughing and being her generally fun-loving self I could have posted on this momentous occasion. Instead, I'm posting this photo of her in her tie-dyed T-shirt skating around the roller rink a few weeks ago on her first day ever on roller skates.
“Because what you see is success, which was remarkable and filled Lauren and I with pride. But what you don't see here is when she decided to ditch the "skate mate" in order to skate around on her own. The numerous times she fell down but immediately got back up. The tears. The breaks she would take to re-group. And she kept going out there. Skating through the tears, through the bumps and bruises.
“I pray that Mari continues to grow, learn, trust and go through life knowing she'll probably have some bumps, bruises and falls along the way but also knowing she has the strength and confidence within herself to get back up (take a rest to regroup if needed) and skate on!
“Happy Birthday Mari, I love you!”
Mommy loves you too. No matter what!