You are eleven today.
While my previous birthday posts have been awash with memories, this one is going to be a little different.
Today you woke up, and proclaimed to be one year older, more mature, a grown up kid. Even though your birthday signifies the passing of another year, I have been watching this transformation unfold for a while now.
Since you are the oldest in our long line of kids, I believe that you have had to grow up a lot faster, become more responsible, and learn how to wait more so than any of your other siblings.
This will help you.
This experience will allow you to mature into an amazing young woman.
Obviously, I can't ignore the fact that you look older. Physically, you stare at me straight in the eye. You have to bend down so I can put your hair in a pony tail. I am so grateful for your growing up (and for things like giving me your cowboy boots and letting me "borrow" your North Face!).
However, what's been happening under our noses for the past year is something bigger than just your mark on our height chart. Emotionally, you're learning how to navigate this world we live in. You're starting the journey into the unknown abyss, commonly referred to as JUNIOR HIGH.
Oh friend, I know. Junior high was not my best time.
However, I feel like you're hitting my sweet spot as a parent. You see, before I was Mom, I was Miss Mottaz/Mrs. Webel. Kids just like you, just at this age would come to me, 25ish at a time, every day. I feel like those few years in the classroom have prepped me for being your mom right at this moment. When I taught, I had to have talks about broken hearts, hurt feelings, weird emotions, and hard growing up times.
Here's the good news:
You're going to be fine. You're going to be great, actually, because you're a great kid already. This unknown, this age eleven, might get tricky. It might feel weird. It might make you upset or angry or annoyed or extremely happy. Who knows?
But here's the great part:
What's amazing about this unknown is that you're going to get to start to make all sorts of neat and important decisions.
On your own.
You've been a girl who has been true to her self for as long as you could talk, so I think this will make for some fun times. I want you to know that even though you're gaining and earning more independence, your dad and I are always here to help. This is a time when you'll want to do things on your own. That's totally normal, absolutely welcome. It will be hard for Dad and me, because we have always been your go-tos when it comes to decision making. We are still here, and will always be on your side, even though some times it may feel like we're not. Your best interest is always our first priority; your character one that we are taking great pride in helping you develop. Dad and I are intent on keeping you safe, fed, healthy, close to God, well rounded and well educated, but you're getting to the point that we are letting your spread your wings a little.
A little (you're still our little girl, remember?).
I know eleven isn't exactly when you decide where you go to college or who you marry, but there are times that you're going to be faced with situations that need good judgement and a cool head. I know you can do it. You are made for bigger things than what age eleven will bring, but this is the time we're going to watch you blossom to be ready for those times. You can do it. You can navigate through this time of weirdness (aka, age eleven), and come out being more awesome than before.
Eleven years have flown, my dear. I can remember what I wore to the hospital, what you looked like the minute they placed me in my arms. You had fingernails, which just baffled me (and made me realize I should have paid better attention in my biology class). In eleven more years, you'll be twenty two, on your way to even bigger, greater unknowns, but the foundation for those decisions is being laid right now.
What I know, amidst this sea of unknown, is that you are a talented, happy, smart, beautiful young lady. I still catch glimpses of the little girl I remember from age 2, 4 and 6. You know, the one who had that bouncy walk, blond curls, and the one that would wear whatever I wanted you to. Ha! While that little girl is just under the surface, the young woman that is emerging is one that is going to make a mark on this world.
I'm so proud of you Anna. I'm so in awe of the God that placed you in our family, entrusting us with your precious heart. Thank you for being YOU. Keep being you. That will help you navigate these next years.
I can't wait to watch.