I used the bottom bunk as a step stool and reached my arm over the rail of her top bunk and pushed the mop of long, straight brown hair back from her face. In the light of the pink nightlight in their room, I sang
Happy birthday to you
I rubbed her back as she stirred and stretched and thought of eight years ago and 5:43 AM and bleary recovery from a birth so much scarier than I dreamed it would be. I thought about her, forty-one and a half weeks inside me, and then there, wrapped up and in my arms. Her shock of black hair and how she had cried and cried in the nursery until her daddy gently traced his finger over her tiny forehead and she settled at once.
He didn't know what he was doing and neither did I and she is the one with whom we have just guessed and done our best.
Happy birthday to you
Birthdays used to come as such a shock to my mother soul. I cried all day when she turned one, and even birthdays like five made my heart hurt. But not this day. Eight seems just right for her.
She loves Minecraft and Club Penguin. She finds comfort in the predictability and procedure of science; the hypothesis and the collection of data and the drawing of conclusions. She still enjoys art, but only if she can do it perfectly, which means lots of angst and frustration and scrunched up cast-offs afloat on a sea of eraser crumbs.
Happy birthday, dear Dacey
She is a crusader for truth and justice, can't tell a lie to save her life. Sometimes I identify with her so very much - she the Ruby to AJ's Max. Like me, the oldest and the oldest girl and I see me in her and her in me and I know without her telling me. But sometimes I think I expect too much of her, and other times I let her get away with way too much.
Without a second of hesitation, I can say that I love the Big Kid years. I love the conversation and I love that there are still plenty of snuggles to go around. I love hearing giggles with friends over the silliest of things. I love hearing the dreams and holding the hands and letting them go.
She sits up in bed, smiling. Because of her, this blog, this book. In a few minutes, I'll wake up Kyle, hand him a cup of coffee, and say "Happy eighth anniversary of parenting!" And later there will be cupcakes and Capri Sun in her classroom and she'll slip her arm around mine when we leave the building because she still likes to hang on to me whenever we walk together.
Happy birthday to you.
-- Shel Silverstein's Eight Balloons