This past weekend was an exciting one at our house. Not only was it a fresh start for Sweet Clover (and by the way, I can’t thank you all enough for your support and comments on that post!), but it was also Emmy’s 9th birthday on Sunday. How did my baby girl become a 9 year old overnight?
Although I worked all weekend, we spent Saturday night out celebrating as a family at Pistarro’s in downtown Frederick, and the kids demolished their wood fired pizzas and proclaimed it the best they’ve ever had. Sunday night I made Emmy her favorite “grilled pizza cheese” which is a grilled cheese stuffed with mozzarella and marinara, and then we all snuggled in for a movie of her choice in the living room. It was a beautiful weekend, with much to celebrate.
I had planned on writing this post with all sorts of things I wanted to say to my beautiful 9 year old daughter, and woke up this morning to the news that one of Emmy’s preschool friends, Phoebe, will not survive the rare blood disease that has attacked her little body. I can’t imagine what her family is going through, and I am praying for them during this difficult time. Hearing that news broke my heart, and also made me think a little more about all of the things I want to tell my daughter today.
Wow! You are nine! Just yesterday I was bringing you home from the hospital to our first house in Louisiana, where a 17-month-old brother and two dogs eagerly awaited your arrival, and now you are nine… It might not seem like a significant number to you, but it’s the last year you will be in the single digits. I know that I am slightly biased as your mother, but you constantly amaze me with the beautiful way you choose to live your life. You’ve got a big heart, a radiant aura, and a magnetic personality… I wish nothing more than for you to keep living your life that way and I never want anyone to dull your sparkle. So here are some things that I need you to know.
- Smile. A smile is the one and only thing you can put on your face that will always make you look more beautiful. No cosmetic can achieve what a smile can. Smile at others and you may be giving someone the only smile they will receive that day- your smile can make a huge difference. There will be times when you don’t feel like it, but I can guarantee you that by smiling through the tears, you will feel better.
- Give everyone a fair chance. You wrote in the beginning of the school year that “everyone deserves a chance to be (your) friend.” I giggled at the time, but you could not be more accurate. Open your heart and mind and embrace the unique qualities of individuals….. you may make some of the very best friends that way who will teach you to see the world differently. Do not shun someone who may appear to be different from you. When I was seven years old, I met my best friend when she was bald from chemotherapy. I had just moved to Massachusetts, and she was the first friend I made at school. We only had six months before I lost her to leukemia, but those six months were filled with joy and memories I will cherish forever. Knowing her made me a better person – but what if I hadn’t let her into my world because of her differences? I would have missed an opportunity for a beautiful and true friendship.
- Know that no person is better than any other person. We are all put here on this earth to do and be good. Never make anyone feel inferior to you for their differences because that only makes you lesser. And never ever let anyone make you feel like you are not enough. You are. We all have individual strengths and we should celebrate those unique qualities in one another. Your brother is an amazing soccer player and you are a talented artist, and I am blessed to see you celebrate your own personal victories and achievements.
- Sing. Sing in the shower, sing in the car, sing as you dance around the house. Sing with your headphones on in your bedroom. Just sing. A song can lift your own heart, and the sound of a happy voice (no matter how truly beautiful or not!) is a contagious joy. So many times I hear you singing at the top of your lungs in the shower or in your room, unaware that anyone is even listening, and it’s always music to my ears.
- Take care of your body. Eat well. Exercise. Imagine all of the exciting things you can do with a healthy body! And know that your body belongs to you – and only you – and you have the power to say no to anyone who doesn’t respect that. When you are older, we will talk more about this topic, I am sure. Please understand that I tell you these things so that you will be confident, strong and self assured, and that you will never have to go through some of the things that I have gone through. I always want the best for you.
- Accept it if someone doesn’t like you. Not everyone will, and that is A-OK. However, if they treat you badly, understand that it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. Ignore it and stay true to you. You do not need their negative energy dragging you down.
- Even though I might say differently when it comes time for college, it’s OK if you don’t know what you are doing with your life and it’s OK to try on different hats until you find the right one. I am 37 years old and have worn many as blogger, shop owner, retail store manager, personal trainer and group exercise instructor… nothing is set in stone and you can change course at any time. Follow your heart and it will lead you down your own path, on your own journey. Your father and I will support you no matter what you choose.
- Keep nourishing your inner artist. You are so much more intuitively creative than I ever was… don’t ever put down the brush or colored pencils. Art is a part of who you are. Don’t let anyone stifle that, especially not the art teacher who forced you to make a strawberry into a tomato. Be free with your skills and don’t be afraid to try new techniques. You don’t have to be an artist, of course, but a creative outlet is medicine for the soul.
- You will always have a home with me and your father. We will fight and there will be times that you shut me out, but please know that no matter what, we will always be here for you and we will always love you. I know that sometimes life seems busy, but when you need me, you just say the word. It doesn’t matter if you are 9, 14, 19, or a 35-year-old with your own family. I am always going to be here for you.
Emmy, in my 37 years I have been through so many things and all of these lessons come from my own experience. I have also worked in many positions, and currently own my own business, but please know that no matter what I achieve during my time on this earth, you and Sawyer will always be my greatest treasure and my greatest accomplishment. Keep shining your light, sweetheart! I love you.