Happy Birthday, my sweet seven year old.
I had hoped to have this letter composed before your birthday (in November), but, honestly, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say.
It’s been a long year. The transition from six years old and seven years old was a hard one for us. You seemed caught in a vortex between reliance and independence. We struggled through a lot of emotional days. A worrisome number of days.
I had given up on my ability to parent you. I felt defeated, frustrated, angry…sad. I didn’t have all the answers. In fact, I didn’t have any answers. I had no idea what to do.
We both cried every day for weeks. We hit the bottom together.
The beauty in hitting the bottom is that there was only one thing we could do – call in our village for some help.
And then, day by day, we began to move forward.
Hillary, you are so resilient. Once we got our hands on the right tools, the change we needed so badly happened almost overnight. For the first time in months, I could see past the emotional turmoil into your heart. Into the real you.
We are so much alike, you and me. That will be a problem for us forever, I think. On the other hand, because you are my Little Me, I love you fiercely, like no one else. I will always be able to understand how you feel because I’ve been exactly where you are. I will be there for you, even if you think you don’t need me.
You started first grade this year. I am constantly amazed by your love for school. Almost everything you do is a learning experience for you, and you certainly could earn a badge for asking the most questions in the history of 7 year olds. You have been talking nonstop for more than 5 years now, and you will definitely be smarter than me someday.
You love to read, write, draw, and watch TV. According to your teacher’s assessments, you read at a third grade level. That’s amazing to me, yet not surprising since you have been reading constantly since you learned how to do it. When you write, you want to make sure everything is spelled correctly. I’ve dictated hundreds of word spellings to you over the years, and you can always spot one of my mistakes. I love that about you. I love that you are so bright, so eager to learn everything. I loved school when I was younger, too, my Little Me.
As this year comes to a close, I’ve had some time to reflect on the ups and downs we’ve shared this year. It was a struggle, but I’m glad it happened. It was an important lesson in strength and determination, things I didn’t know either of us were capable of doing. But we did it. We made it through. Just like we’ll make it through everything if we stick together.
This morning, you crawled on my lap and snuggled up with me. I can’t remember the last time you did that. I was compelled to finish this letter to you, knowing that somewhere underneath all that independence, you still need me once in awhile.
I love you, Hillary.