I remember the day you got the worst bruise of your life. To this day, it’s still the worst facial bruise you’ve ever experienced. It was pretty impressive. You were running down the front sidewalk to the car, and you tripped and I can still hear it – that awful crunch, as your face hit the pavement. You formed the most perfect, round, red bruise above your eye and of course it was right before nap time. So I sat on the floor the entire time you slept making sure you didn’t die from a major brain injury. If I’m remembering correctly, I was 9 months pregnant with Luca, so sitting there for an hour wasn’t the most pleasant, but in that time I got to enjoy the last few moments that it was just you and me.
Two weeks ago you had your tonsils and adenoids removed. We made it a big deal, but not big in a scary way, but big in how it was going to change your life, way. We talked about how cool it’ll be to be able to smell things again, and breathe through your nose, and not have to chew with your mouth open, because your nose will work.
Weeks and even days before, you kept saying to me, “This is going to be great! I can’t wait for my surgery!” And even on the drive to the surgery center, you were pretty stoked. But when we got there and we were rushed by nurse after nurse, doctor after doctor, talking scary talk, using big words, you got really quiet. When you had to get into your patient gown and pants and I put on my Stay Puft marshmallow suit, you started to fidget with your hands and wouldn’t look up.
I anticipated this happening, dad too, so when we did the quick walk down the hallway to the OR, and you were absolutely silent, I started talking about all the brave people I know. Rey from Star Wars, Wonder Woman, Mulan….you. I told the doctors that you are only a belt away from being a black belt, and that you are one of the strongest kids that I know, and it seemed to help. And when you lay down on the OR table, you were scared, I know, but you put on that brave face I love so much.
You are the kid that does the right thing when no one is looking. You don’t let another kid be left out at recess. You don’t discriminate. When I ask you to do something, even if you put up a little resistance, you do it. I can count on you; you’re reliable.
When I was pregnant with you, I envisioned what my future kids would be like. They’d be polite, kind, smart, helpful, patient, strong. I wanted them to stand up for themselves, and be brave. To ask a lot of questions and not feel like they know it all. To welcome change and to grow. To be a person that others can rely on, and seek help from when in need.
Claire, I don’t care if you’re the most popular, or the prettiest or the best at a sport. Those are all things that won’t carry you through life. I want you to be kind to everyone you meet, even if they’re not a friend. I want you to try your best at whatever sport you play, and be okay with not being a superstar, but don’t ever stop practicing and working hard. Hard work and dedication go a long way. I want you to never stop reading and learning. Your imagination is one of your greatest assets. Remember to love yourself. Always. Don’t get down on yourself when something doesn’t go your way. Rise above.
To be all of those things, that’s what makes a person beautiful. Not your face, not your body – but who is inside all of that, and how they treat people and animals – that’s what makes someone gorgeous.
Already you’re one of the most beautiful people I know, and I can’t believe I made you from scratch.
Today you’re nine.
Thanks for making me a mom. You’re a kid that I can absolutely brag about and be ridiculously proud of. You’re just that awesome.
I love you.