Last night before bed you asked me if I would get up early to make your Birthday Pancakes. I said I wasn't sure if I'd feel up to it because I've been so sick. In my head though, I was overjoyed that something I started just a couple of years ago is something you actually look forward to every birthday. One thing I've done right. :) I KNEW I was making them. I already had the sprinkles and frosting ready and waiting. I've done nothing but think about this day for weeks. Months really.
For months I've thought about your birthday, but for the past couple of weeks it has really dawned on me that you were going to be NINE. Nine years old. I'll say it every year from now until eternity, but time seriously goes too fast. Nine is halfway to Eighteen. Halfway to you being a legal adult venturing out into the world on your own. Excuse me, while I cry. Again.
Last night I cried myself to sleep. It was a weird cry. It was filled with a mix of joy, sadness, grief, excitement, and terror.
I'm overjoyed to be your mother. How could I not be? You're beautiful, smart, funny, generous, thoughtful, strong willed, determined and adventurous. You give me so much to be proud of. Watching you (and your brother) grow have been the most joyful moments of my life.
I was saddened because its all happening too fast. I only have nine years left before you're leaping from the 'nest' to go soaring off into your own life. You say you're never leaving me, and I'll gladly hold on to that sweet delusion as long as humanly possible, but I know its coming. My heart is already anticipating the strange proud/empty feeling. I'm not ready. These past nine years have flown by and I know there is nothing I can do to slow down the next nine. If you can help it, try to take your time.
The grief is just good old fashioned Mom guilt making an appearance. I'm grieving for all the days we've already wasted butting heads. You and I are more alike that I'd like to admit sometimes. You may get your inner clown from your dad, and even a good dose of that stubbornness. But so much of that is from me too. You're only nine and we've still got the teenage years ahead of us. I grieve for the time we've wasted being angry with one another. Yelling, fighting... Lets try to do less of that, okay? I'm sorry for any time I made you feel like you weren't absolute perfection to me. I know there are times when I have. I'll always regret those moments. I know I was doing my best at the time, because hasn't always been easy (You are, after all, your Mother's strong willed daughter), but I want you to know that no matter what conflict arises between us in these next nine years, you are wonderful and perfect to me and I will ALWAYS love you.
I'm so excited to see you grow into the wonderful young woman you'll be. I'm excited to see what's in store for your future, all the things you'll want to try, to learn, to experience. I cannot wait to witness the milestones you'll reach in these next few years. It will be an honor to see you experience life and really enjoy all the wonderful things this world has to offer. It's all so exciting and I look forward to sharing every moment with you that you'll let me. I know I won't get to see them all. But I hope you'll let me try. It thrills me to see you grow, learn, and figure out what makes you happy. I always want to be a witness to your journey.
The terror. There's no other word for it. I'm completely terrified. Those teenage years I mentioned earlier? Ugh. There are so many things I'm scared of, so I'm going to ask some favors of you so that those years are less dreadful for me. It's the least you could do (I did, after all, give you life). First thing I ask is that you always, always ALWAYS talk to me. Come to me when you're scared, angry, outraged, sad, excited, thrilled, nervous, happy, heartbroken. I want to be a part of it all. I may not always seem happy about it, because there will be things that are hard to hear, but I will always come from a place of love. If you're in trouble, come to me. I will always be there to help you and be on your side. Even if you're totally wrong. I'll tell you you're wrong, but I'll still support you and love you and help you find your way again. I will always be your safe place no matter where I am. If you're hurt, come to me. If you're excited, happy, proud, I want to hear about it. You get the idea. But trust me little one, no one loves you more than Mom does.
Dads love might come pretty close, so you talk to him too. Take advantage of your parents experiences in life. Take our advice when its really important, and at least consider it when it's something small. Dad and I always have your best interests at heart. You are a part of us, we love you more than we love ourselves. Don't ever forget that.
So, You're Nine. Halfway to adult. It's kind of fitting that I'm wrapping up this letter right around the time you were born nine years ago today. One of the very best days of my life. I never knew my heart could double in an instant. Happy Ninth Birthday "Monkey". I love you More than all these words can come close to expressing.