***Blogger's note: I seem to be writing a lot of birthday posts as of late. Maybe it's the sheer quantity of birthdays we have around here, or maybe it's because it's the one day in my family member's years that I truly focus on them. Either way, it's March 2, Anna's 12th birthday, and here's her letter from her mama.
March 2, 2017
You woke up this morning, super early like you always do. I heard you downstairs in the kitchen. I skipped my run because it's cold today, and I was glad to be here to greet you first thing. However, as I heard you rustling around in the kitchen, fixing your own breakfast, getting your morning in order, I just listened. I took a few of those early morning moments, quiet and dark, to remember what it was like when you were little.
Because now, you're 12.
When you were first born, you were it, my friend. You were the only. The only grandchild on my side. The only kid in this house. We were overwhelmed, but not by lack of sleep or just the general shock of having a baby. We were overwhelmed with this joy of having you. Your dad and I wanted to have a family, and once you were born, I had this sense that you made us complete.
Little did I know five other friends would complete the package, but being a mom, having a family, made me feel like my life was truly just beginning.
This morning as I stared at the ceiling, I thought of the way we dressed you up like a doll at first, worrying if you were too cold or too hot or too hungry or too wet. You always let us know.
I remembered when you would navigate our one little step down to our family room in our first house, just so that you could look out the patio doors and see what was going on. Always looking back to see if we were watching, but doing it by yourself.
You were and still are curious, precocious, and so independent. As a toddler, your favorite phrase was "all by MYYYYYYYself."
While pouring milk at age three and climbing up a tall playground structure as a preschooler made this independence hard for me to swallow, now that you're 12, your independence have served you well. In school, in activities, in church: your independence and confidence shine through. Your ability to just get things done have made your role as the oldest in this tribe invaluable. You are a really, really good big sister because of it, and your helpfulness with your siblings is one that should be celebrated.
I want you to know this is something that we are so proud of. This is something not everyone has, and you are so amazing for it.
Even though you're 12, even though sixth grade is almost halfway through, and even though you have the ultimate in independence: A PHONE, we're still here. We still love you like that little one we brought home in a little pink hat. We still are here to encourage you like we did when you were taking your first steps at 10 months (why did we do THAT? ha!). We still love you and want you safe and secure like the little one we would tuck in at night, always making sure you had your two blankies. We will let you do your own thing, chart your own adventure, but we're here as a safety net. Remember when you didn't want me to walk you into preschool art when you were four, and then ended up crying at circle time because you missed me? I love that story.
This year, like that story, you marched into junior high without a single ounce of drama but you didn't cry at your locker when you first got there. You know that you've got this, but I also want you to know that Dad and I are always here in case you do feel like that little girl at circle time...because you will, here and there.
Life is going to give you great things, and it will be good and planned well and exciting. It will also be hard and sad and tricky and unfair. Remember that you're ready to weather whatever, but that Dad and I love you enough to know when you step in and help.
My sweet girl: these dozen years you have been on earth are ones that have been joy filled and fun and hard and sad and happy and exciting. Each of the 12 March 2nds we have celebrated have been days that I step back and revel in the fact that I am your mom. We are so lucky to be your parents, lucky to have you as our kid.
In the next dozen years, you'll go through a lot, but for now, let's celebrate the fun. Let's eat Mexican and lemon cake and text funny GIFs to each other today. It's been a fast 12 years, so let's slow down today and celebrate you.
Anna Grace, your dad and I love you more than you will ever know. Thanks for being YOU.
Happy birthday, darling.