Two nights ago I got home very late from work and you were fast asleep in my bed. You’ve been “graciously” sleeping there for the past few days while we do some work in F’s bedroom and she’s been transplanted into yours. I say graciously in quotes because I do believe that your favorite thing to do on earth is cuddle. “Cuddle me, Mama” you ask most every night. From the moment you were born you seemed most content and most happy when someone was snuggled up beside you, reading you book after book after book until somebody fell asleep. (It was usually us – evening book reading in a horizontal position is a tough thing to stay awake through!) You still love being read to, but now when we get drowsy and start to wonder if the chapters in the Harry Potter books go on for-ever, you just take over the book yourself and read another fifty pages while we drift off into a little cat nap. I’ve always thought it strange how you like to pile up at least two pillows behind your head to fall asleep. It never looked very comfortable to me, but one day I realized that it probably feels completely normal to you. You fall asleep most nights in that position with an open book across your chest.
The morning after my late night at work, you woke up so excited to show me the card that had come in the mail from your Nana and Grandpa. On the inside it had the message “Load that PL8, Celebr8, make a wish and don’t you w8…” You went into elaborate detail about how the “8’s” were really “ate’s”, and you spent the rest of the morning coming up with all the -ate words you could. “8 is goin’ be gr8” you finally declared, and dug into your breakfast.
Eight is going to be great. I can feel it. I would say that if you had to rank ages as they applied to different categories, then perhaps in the category of “Listening”, seven – and I suspect eight as well – would not rank very high. And that’s par for the course, no matter how frustrating it might be to ask you to put your shoes on fourteen dozen times a morning. But I can imagine the categories that eight will rank very high in – Curiosity, Drive, Character and Spunk, Height (as you grow like a weed), Facial Expression (some more pleasant than others), Boundary Testing and Independence. Where is that little girl that hid behind my legs, too nervous to join in the surrounding fray? You lead the fray some days, and other days you do your best to roll with the fray. Your attempts to be all things to all people can sometimes be awkward, but you’ve pushed yourself out of your safety zone enough to show that you can do it. You can hang with the boys on the playground and the soccer field, you can dust yourself off from a big fall, you can master that violin and that bike and each week you get a little braver on that trapeze. You are powerful, you are brave, you are amazing. You put up with a lot of put-off’s…we sometimes have to put things off while your sister naps, or while we get things done around the house, or while we sometimes just need a moment of peace. But those times we spend together with you – just you – are some of my favorite times at all. If I could muster the energy and the stamina and the vocal strength to read to you endlessly from one book after another I would.
I would read and read and read and savor those cuddles forever. I love to watch you grow, but I do not wish for a time when those cuddles are just a memory. I hope that you will always know that no matter how busy life can sometimes be that we will always make time for “one more book”, and find the occasional excuse to turn the rest of the world off for awhile and cuddle up close. Because you are worth it, you are so special, you really are gr8.
Happy Birthday my sweet, sweet girl.