As you are well aware, you turned seven yesterday. In case you happened to forget your birthday was approaching, we stretched the celebration out over a week. There was a party with friends from school, a party with aunts and cousins, and then there was your actual birthday. We spent the day doing things you wanted to do, which meant pool, macaroni and cheese, a parade, pizza, and fireworks. If there's anything I teach you in this life, it is this: MILK YOUR BIRTHDAY FOR ALL IT IS WORTH.
Sometimes I have to shake my head really hard and rub my eyes to believe that the baby you once were is now an actual kid. I go in to your room to wake you up in the morning and I swear you have grown overnight. This new smile of yours, the one with missing teeth, is one that I haven't gotten used to yet. Don't get me wrong, it's a beautiful smile, but it's so far removed from your chubby baby smile and only paces away from braces and lipstick. Lord help me.
Sometimes I have to think really hard to remember what life was like before June 28, 2002, when the midwife placed you on my bare chest and I got my first good look at you. It always makes me think of this line from a Ben Folds song:
And where was I before the day
That I first saw your lovely face?
Now I see it everyday
And I know
That I am
I am, I am
It might seem as if I am too nostalgic for all things baby when it comes to you. That somehow I preferred you as a baby or a precocious toddler. That is so far from the truth. I will always remember those days fondly, but you know what? I think seven is pretty cool.
I think it's cool that you're starting to have your own interests and obsessions that have nothing to do with me or your dad. I think it's cool that we can pick some really amazing stories together, stories I've never known, and even though you could read them on your own you still want to snuggle up with me and let me read them to you. I think it's cool that we can hop in the car and go anywhere together, without having to think about snacks and sippy cups and diapers and naps. I think it's cool that you are choosing your own friends now, and that your are developing relationships that you will remember forever.
I think it's cool that you still think your dad and I are the coolest people around. I know those days are numbered. I see glimpses of it every now and then: an exasperated sigh here, a roll of the eyes there. They say girls are growing up faster than ever. I don't know about that. Is anyone ever ready for their baby girl to grow up?
For now I'll just enjoy you as you are. No longer a little kid, but not yet a pre-teen. No longer a child who needs mom or dad every minute of the day, but a young lady who still needs her hand held every once in a while.
Just remember this, though. Whether you are seven, or seventeen, or twenty-seven: you will always be our baby girl, and we will always be honored to hold your hand.
Happy Birthday, sweet girl.