Six and I never saw it coming
(Written in two parts. School birthday party and actual birthday party days.)
I sat here for a long time in the still of silence. Right now you’re getting on your bus, ready to come home from school, excited to tell me all about how today was your day – your birthday celebration. Sure, it’s not until Saturday, but today, at school, with all of your friends, you got to celebrate.
But it’s quiet now and I, for the life of me, have no idea when we got here. I looked at the calendar twice. I looked at the photos on the wall. Yes, logically, having four kids would add up to time, but where did it go?
You’re in school now, and the majority of the time you’re away from me. I’m cool with that. It’s a part of life and it’s good for you. But in these moments. These rare, quiet moments, I miss you. Your questions. Your imagination. Your ever watchful eyes.
I feel like I’m missing out on all the relevant things in your life anymore.
Then, you go and say something that sounds like it had just came out of my mouth, but it wasn’t me who said it, and I think, “Ah. I’m always with you.”
Sorry about that.
You have been on earth for six years now, and I wonder, did I do enough? Did I teach you all the things you should know at this point in life? Have you seen the things a six year old should see? Are you what a six year old should be?
I know I’m still new at this, but I can answer that without question. Yes. Yes you do. Claire, aside from the knowledge of math and reading and writing is more that, you love math and reading and writing. You love to do homework and feel purpose. And even if you didn’t know how to read or do any of that, you’d still be a good kid. Because brains only get you part of the way in life.
This year you learned a giant lesson in compassion. You learned that hard work and discipline pays off. You also learned how to let go of my hand. You, Claire. You did all that.
My favorite thing about being your mom is watching you take a simple idea and letting it grow. You asked for a few donations for the animals. I helped you get it started and you pushed to see it through. You asked to run the marathon because you wanted to be like your mom and dad. We helped you start running, but you pushed on and asked to run more. I asked you if you wanted me to drive you to school in the morning and you said that you’d rather ride the bus to be with friends.
Claire, you may not realize it, but you’re so very brave.
You get along best with adults, and I know how that feels. I, too, was the same way. Kids my age never really understood me. But in the same, I never understood them. Kids are always going to look at you funny, they’re going to wonder why you act the way you do. Are you weird? No. Not in the least. You’re mature. I’d like to say it’s a wonderful thing, but truth be told, it can be lonely. It’s hard knowing responsibility and loving to follow the rules. But that is who you are, kid. It’s in you.
Now, two days later on your actual big day, I’m proud. Yes, sometimes you give me such attitude I want to hit a reset button. There are days when I wonder if this is a preview of what’s to come. But when I sit down next to you, on your level, you’re still there. The kid that I’ve raised you to be is in there. And no matter what comes our way, I know we’ll get through it.
Seven years ago, I had a dream about becoming a mother. Looking back, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. But Claire, you came along and made it easy. No, it wasn’t easy in the beginning. Not at all. The fact that you have siblings is pretty amazing. But we figured it out together. You and me. Those long nights, the bad dreams, the scrapes, bumps, bruises, the arguments and attitudes – We’ve gotten through them.
So this morning I watched you eat your birthday breakfast with a huge smile, in bed, as you had dreamed about for a long time. I watched you run up and down the field and score a few goals at soccer. And in a little while, your friends and family will be at the house to celebrate your life.
And your life? It’s changed mine. To say I love you isn’t enough. So I baked you a cake.
Because in my world, that is a whole lot of love.
Six years old. This is big. Promise me you’ll stay you and stay awesome. Because that’s my favoritest thing about you.