She’s turning 8

Photo of author during birthing
Half-way through the pushing stage. 01-2010

I pushed for four and half hours before I could hold her in my arms and yet my labor didn’t stop then. The real work had only begun. Mothering is hard work. Daily work. Patient work. Challenging work. Rewarding work.

A child and a mother were born on the same day in that hospital room almost eight years ago. She’s growing up and I’m growing.

Photo of author with her brand new baby
Finally holding my little one

There she goes and there’s no stopping her… no more than there is stopping time.

She’s a second grade homeschooled kid who still loves books and is just now taking off in decoding and reading for pleasure. She chose Charlotte’s Web as her daily assignment, the first chapter book I read aloud to her.

She’s a studious little one who loves Math, writing in cursive and thrives under pressure. Taking tests are a favorite (even when she doesn’t get the best grades).

She knows how to clean her room and fold her clothes but rarely does either without serious nagging from me. I bet that one day, I’ll miss those annoying little mounds of clothing that sprout in my bathrooms.

She’s a girly girl and a tomboy. She likes to get her nails done and put make up on (something I rarely allow) and can’t wait to get her first pair of high heels (when she’s 16 ha!). She climbs trees, digs in dirt, collects bugs, sticks and rocks.

Of course she’s not perfect but she’s mine and she’s good; such a good little girl.

She’ll have a pool birthday party today, courtesy of a friend who’s opening up her house to 12 littles and their parents. The same friend has also baked the vanilla and chocolate cakes requested by the birthday girl. (I know right!). I only have to buy ice cream, whipped cream (of course!) and show up to celebrate the birth of a sweet soul.

Many presents were bought and will be wrapped in shiny paper and ribbons but there are some gifts we’ve bestowed upon her that are not so conspicuous. She might not even recognize them as such until she’s an adult or a mother herself.

The gift of rest and leisurely mornings.
She’s a lucky kid who can sleep her fill every single night. She wakes up when her body tells her to. She starts her mornings quietly in her room with pretend play and piles of books. Once I’m up, she dashes outside to inline skate or sway on the swing that hangs from our tree. When I see her blissful little figure soaring in the air, my heart swells. What a wonderful way to start the day. No getting up drowsy. No rushing off to face the grind. No half chewed breakfasts. We read, we exercise, we eat as a family.
Nothing is more precious than wealth of time. That lesson is our gift to her.

Photo of author's daughter swinging from a tree

The gift of body confidence.
I am my daughter’s role model in every aspect of life. And none is more important than teaching her about being a woman and showing her to love her body. The best way I’ve found to achieve this is to never say anything bad about mine (the lack of a full length mirror anywhere in our house also helps a lot). My thighs are a little wobbly, and I just noticed new lines around my mouth but I don’t give words to whatever angst I might feel about my appearance.
I do however point to the silver strands that have recently turned up as new jewels for my hair.
I sometimes flex my biceps in fun to show her that you can be a 40 something mom and strong. I wrestle and box and practice headstands so she knows she could too.
Being a woman is an honor; growing old is a privilege. That lesson is our gift to her.

The gift of a growth mindset.
When I got married, I was a 21 year old girl with a very rigid personality. “This is just who I am”, I would tell my husband. “I can’t change”. And he did what every husband must do. He showed me I was wrong. I’m glad he did. I learned and I changed. Year after year.
Now our daughter can start on my shoulders.
She has seen me changed to a calmer, more patient mom and knows that even when we struggle with certain virtues, it does not mean that they are forever unattainable.
She has seen me take on writing at 40 and keep at it faithfully. Now she writes too and just earned first prize of a poetry contest.
She has seen me sign up for art class alongside her, and not mind for one bit being the only adult in the class. She has seen me diligently learn a new language (Japanese) every week via video chat, even though I already speak five.
She has seen me read books to educate myself, and read books for fun.
Leading by example, I have taught her that you can choose who you want to be; you can choose what you do with your life; you can choose to pursue learning anything regardless of age or natural talent.
You don’t have to be the same person forever. That lesson is our gift to her.

These three gifts, we carefully chose and dutifully offer her day in and day out.
Like fairy dust, we hope they work magic into her life.

May she live long and happily ever after.

Photo of author with her family

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