Happy Birthday Nora!
Today you are nine years old!
Every year on this day I write you a letter to tell you just how special you are and how incredibly loved by me you are. This year is no different.
Only it also is very different.
First of all, at the cost that you may be reading this when you are 30 years old with your very own 9 year old at home, I want to start by telling you a few very honest truths.
#1: I love you but...you and me? Yeah, we don't always get along.
Especially not in the way that I thought we would 9 years ago, as I anticipated holding you for the very first time. All I could think of and dream about then was what your soft skin would feel like, what your beautiful hair would look like (mine), what your big eyes would look like (mine), what your plumped up lips would look like (Aunt Jeni's). All I could imagine was being your mom, holding your hand; you looking up at me with adoration and me looking down at you in total, majestic awe.
There have been many times that you have looked at me in those ways and many more that I have looked at you from across the room and felt exactly like I knew I would. But there have been many, many times where it also hasn't been that way.
#2: I'm learning that you and I are very alike and yet so incredibly different...
[and that's ok].
You are a very smart, articulate, determined little girl. You have an answer for everything and you know how to get what you want. You don't apologize often, are hard headed and get angry quickly. You are less affectionate now than I dreamed you would be. Sadly, I think life has made that so and not your actual self. But when you need me, you call my name and as I always dreamed I would be, I am here to come running.
#3: Life now isn't quite like I pictured it would be for you 9 years ago.
[and that's also ok].
When I was about to deliver you I would never have imagined that I would no longer be married to your daddy. I want you to know, baby, that you are here on this earth because I wanted so badly to be a mommy but also because I very much loved your daddy. We were very young, lived very far away and we really did the best we could. Even now I think I can speak for both of us when I say that you truly were our dream come true. You have always been and will always be my greatest gift.
You are the little girl who made me a mom!
You are a really lucky little girl in the way that you now have 'extra' people in your life who love you really well. Kendall and Chris have both played and will continue to play really important roles in your life. Please continue to let them do that, baby. They love you in ways that only they can and I think it's very special that you get to experience that kind of expansion in your heart. My one true hope is that in twenty years you will be able to look back and feel grateful for the childhood that you had; that you will feel nothing but enriched because of all the love that was shown to you.
#4: At almost nine years old you like to be alone a lot.
You have learned to cope and grieve through many of life's changes in the last several years but I can truly say that on this exact day, you are the happiest I have seen you in a very long time. I am most proud of how you have learned what you need from yourself and others around you and how you've been able to show us. Although I wish that life would have been much different for you, I see the character of a young woman that most adults never achieve. I see you becoming someone who will be both intellectual and empathetic. I sit back and I watch you in all situations and I am amazed at how you handle yourself. You are poised and wise beyond your years and that is a true gift, Nora.
You are about to go into the 4th grade in public school, which was not part of my life plan for you either. But you get straight A's, you work really hard, you have loved your teachers, you have several good friends and I am just so proud of you!
You enjoy riding horses, playing minecraft, NOT playing with your brother, spying on adult conversations, kittens, driving the mower out on the farm, reading and doing art.
Two months ago your baby sister went to Heaven. You have been sad but you have also felt so much relief. You've both expressed it and shown it. I have felt grateful and proud that you are able to express that emotion and I continue to pray that you never feel guilty for it. I am thankful for the sister that you were to Mabel but I'm also so grateful for the mom that I get to be for you in the coming years. We did a really great job together taking care of your sister here on earth, baby, and I believe that one day God will honor us for that in Heaven. I can see that you believe that too.
The last few years have been really hard years in your life. There have been so many changes and so many heartbreaks. You have been angry and sad and quiet and loud and aggressive and gentle. You have been to talk therapy and art therapy and then suddenly the horses became therapy.
And then, even before I knew it, after so much worrying about you, life itself has settled inside of your being and you are ok.
And finally, knowing that you are, I am too.
I want you to know how very much I love you. I want you to know that I will always be at your side in this life. I want you to know that in me, you have an unconditional source of strength and support; encouragement and compassion. I want you to know that I am now capable of being the mom that I was destined and created to be all along (I just needed your sister's help to truly be me). I want you to know that I will give you the best of me, and all of me in everything you need me for. I want you to know that you will not have to walk one day alone in your life, as long as I am living. And I want you to know, baby, that I am so proud of who you are.
You love God and people really well, and I pray that of everything you have had to learn in the last several years, these would be the key things that stick with you.
God & People.
That's what matters here, Nora.
And you matter so much to me and to so many people, baby.
I want to tell you one last thing on this 9th birthday, on the off chance that you're sitting in your room googling my blog right now and reading:
As I've told you every birthday since you were born, your name means 'light.'
I gave you the name Nora for a very specific purpose; because I already knew when you were growing inside of me that you would be a light in this world for many, and especially for me.
And you so are, Nora! You so are.
The Bible tells us that when a light shines in the darkness, the darkness cannot understand it. I pray that you would leave this world perplexed by the amount of light you shine, little girl!
Happiest Birthday baby.
You are beautiful, funny, smart, and perfect in every way. I love thinking about who you are becoming and what life has in store for you. God's plan has always been and continues to be remarkable over your life. I am the luckiest mom in the world to be yours.
I love you--