As of this early this morning, around 2:44 Indiana time, we have a newly minted seven year old!
I think I say this every year, but this milestone was a tough one for me. Just about a week ago, I went to bed thinking about it, my heart already stirred by a tv show we had just finished and my emotions constantly being plucked by the ever controlling pregnancy hormones, and I cried my eyes out.
I also think there is something particularly poignant about her birthday landing between two, already sentimental, holidays and each year it gets me where it hurts. Plus, this time last year, my friend Amy was in the hospital, fighting for her life (though I didn’t know it at the time). We tragically lost her just a few days later. MG’s birthday will always hold a tinge of bitter remembrance of that time.
After my little crying jag, I was able to move on, focusing on the excitement of the little thrills the day will bring (lunch + treats at school, the Belle birthday cake she carefully picked out, the American Girl doll she doesn’t know she’s getting…). But there is something about birthdays that cause me to become a little reflective too, sometimes perhaps too much so.
I was thinking about how over Thanksgiving break, she had asked to watch Frozen and my heart fluttered. It’s been 4 years since that movie came out and about that same length of time since she became completely captivated by princesses. Though her tastes have since grown with the numbers on the calendar, in a strange way, that movie has defined so much of her childhood. So many birthdays wishing for a certain princess toy, so many days spent in a princess dress up, so many afternoons spent blaring her princess cd’s at the highest possible volume we allowed her.
Those cd’s have, thankfully, travelled with her from each playroom to the one she currently resides in (though she sees much less of it these days with school claiming 1/2 of her waking hours). And I always know it’s a holiday break when I hear one blasting upstairs and the footfalls of dancing feet; though she rarely attires in costume these days, and is more prone to leotards and ballet tutus. It makes me happy. She still is a princess lover at heart, even though the heart has grown quite a few times since the first discovery.
But time has quietly slipped by, once again, and without even realizing it, the moments have faded of her requesting a showing of the princesses she used to hold so dear.
It also gave me a small pause when she requested the aforementioned movie, and I suddenly realized I still have a girl (and another on the way), that has never seen Frozen, never perused our extensive dress up closet, never memorized the entire Disney princess lineup, nor danced to the same, tired princess cds over and over. I’ve been saying lately that when MG and Bea are both in school next year, I will get a second chance at raising them, via their younger sisters. In many ways, I hope this rings true. Both with Sib following so closely in line with MG, and the hopes that this next baby takes more so after Bea (just to be fair).
Their childhood was magical, in my memory at least, and I consider it the deepest honor that I get to relive parts of it again.
But the evidence shows that childhood is waning, at least for a certain seven year old.
I’ve found that seven is a tricky age because she is still very much a little girl but inching closer to a bigger one. She can still squeeze into the last size in toddler clothing, but fits some into the “big kids section” too. She is obsessed with all things American Girl, but still sleeps with Stella. She still prefers to be read to every night, but is constantly sounding out words that she sees in the world. She asked shyly to see my phone the other day, using it to record pictures and video, and then felt appalled at the sound of her own voice. She gives hugs and kisses often, lavishing praise, but also tests more boundaries with her language and tone, trying to figure out what is acceptable and how far (ironically, we are also doing the same).
To that end, she’s been a good first child for us. Cautious in pushing boundaries, slow to latch onto trends of her more “tuned-in” peers, a deeply helpful and servant heart at her core best. She’s gone easy on us, thus far, and has made parenting feel like 95% joy. But if that’s the case, why is it that I carry the most regrets about my parenting over her? It’s not because she has been our charge for the lengthiest amount of time.
I was 26 when I had her, not too young by most standards, but still not fully mature according to science. I learned everything on her. She was my training ground and the measuring stick I used to pass onto the others. I’m still the hardest on her, if I’m being honest, and hold her to the highest standards. I think because she’s a first and I’m a first, it is inevitable we will rub each other more commonly. Me, reading her actions and desperately hoping she doesn’t make the same mistakes I do. She, always seeking my approval but incapable of fully feeling it.
Thankfully, we haven’t hit too many bumps like that just yet, but it is just under the surface of our relationship, if you sniff around for it. And so far, she’s been very grace-filled towards my parenting mistakes, though they warn me that I only have about three years of that left to fall back on, if anything can be told by norms.
One quality that I have greatly appreciated in her this year is her tenderness. She doesn’t make a lot of egregious mistakes, but when she does, she is quick to fix them. She is fast to mend things with a heartfelt apology and also a little prone to teariness. Not the kind of crying that puts you off because it is over the top, but a hint of red eye and a glimmer of a tear when she is rueful. Or is genuinely happy. Or is reminded of the past (she tearily brought up our passed kitty, Birdie, the other night). She has many endearing firstborn qualities but is not a perfectionist. (something I appreciate because neither am I)
I think she must be bound to be a teacher (though I won’t hold her to it). She naturally knows what Sibby needs (Bea too) and tends to them, sometimes better and with more patience than myself. Princess playing has drastically ebbed, and when she has a few minutes to herself after school, she comes home and sets up a classroom of her own.
How can I not love this little creature that is a miniature replica of myself?
She enjoys school, lost her first teeth this year, asked to take the training wheels off her bike, has mastered reading, has learned the basics of piano, memorized Awana verses, has so many theological questions, and begged to accompany me in sewing and baking projects. She is fun to be around when she is not moody nor too silly (something I find seven year olds particularly good at). She is good at punchlines and appreciates a good story. She loves theater and dancing and singing at heart. She confessed to me the other day that she only wants to be two things when she grows up: beautiful and famous. But most importantly beautiful.
I’m hesitant to let this year go because it was so good and I crave more time with her, wondering if I savored it enough, parented her correctly, and if the scales of judgment will show that I did right by her in the end. But move forward we must, and in the hopes that more good and sweet memories, and perhaps a few more showings of Frozen will find their way to us in the next 365 days.
I started this blog when she was one year old, almost exactly. Six years of her being my muse, though I’ve added in a few more characters since then. She is nearly too old for me to continue telling her story. Now that she is mastering reading and writing, it is almost time for her take the pen. Naturally, and purposefully, as she has gotten older, the stories have strayed from her more and more to both protect her and give her the freedom to grow up on her own terms.
But I am thankful for the six years of stories that she helped me accumulate and look forward to seeing how we unfold the next chapters of her story. If history has taught us anything, it is bound to be good.