The natural thing to do of course, is to write a post about your birthday.
I wasn’t going to; it seemed sort of unimaginative and self-indulgent, not unlike the Facebook posts wishing happy birthday to infants and family pets. Tee is probably never going to read this; she will be fully content with her presents and cake and sleepover party. But I have to write it. I have to write it so that in a few months or years I can read it again, and remember this moment, this anniversary of the most important day in my daughter’s life – the day she came into ours.
My darling Tee, you are a pocket-sized, eight-year-old, third-grade conundrum who continues to blow my mind on pretty much a daily basis. I still often wonder, as we do our silly routine of a hundred-and-one (or so it seems) different kinds of bedtime kisses, or when we walk home from school and you reach your hand out to mine, how it is that we came to be connected. You have an aloofness about you that makes me forget sometimes that you really do adore me most. Well, me and that big guy who lives with us, of course. And your sister, even though you really have no idea yet just how much you adore her.
I wrote a better birthday post for you when you turned five. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been doing this thing for three years (albeit with a fairly significant break in there) and hard to believe how much further you have grown and evolved even since then. You are the clown of the family, but like most clowns (I suppose) you have a sadness and an anger inside you that leaks or bursts out at surprising moments. You are sensitive, crying inconsolably over the war-time death of my great uncle Hugh, who was gone generations before either of us was even a twinkle in someone’s eye. You are fearful and headstrong, refusing to go downstairs or upstairs unless somebody else goes with you. You are a perfectionist who is thirsty for knowledge and skill, but who finds it hard to accept instruction as anything less than criticism. You are so much like me, and that thrills and terrifies the both of us.
I love watching you try to be mature like your impossibly mature sister; I love hearing your complicated retellings of the smallest events; I love seeing your pride when you accomplish a back-bend on the living room carpet. You love to cook with me and discover the ‘secret’ ingredients that I (and now you) use to make our recipes extra special; you love watching television and riding your bike and reading everything you can get your hands on.
But best of all, you love us, and we are so grateful for it.
Happy birthday baby.