September 24, 2012
A decade ago, at 5:32pm, you entered this world.
And changed mine forever.
On that day I became a Mother.
Not just any Mother…your Mother.
There are many things I could give you today Ava. But more than anything, I want to give you my words. Don’t worry, you’ll still have a package to open. But, clothes and toys will one day be outgrown. But, these words I write to you are timeless. They will always be here for you to read, tuck away into your heart and remember.
Ava, I want you to read this early because I have no idea how long my letter will be:
I love you.
Having you for a daughter is a gift. It’s a gift not because of what you do, but because of who you are. I don’t say this to dismiss or diminish any of your admirable and loving actions. But, my dear child, please know that you are enough. You don’t have to try to earn my love…it’s yours.
I’ve thought about this letter for well over a week now. How could I not? After all, you’ve been counting down the days until your birthday for a month now. I thought about drafting various letters to you, then compiling my thoughts and sentiments into one final version and publishing that on your birthday. However, I didn’t quite make it past the “I thought about…” part.
So, here I am, sitting in bed on your “Birthday Eve.”
And you’re laying beside me.
I’m not surprised to find you here. Now normally, I would lead you back to your bed because it’s a school night. But, special occasions call for exceptions, don’t you think? Hmmmm…I can’t decide which is better: my sneaking suspicion that you’d be waiting for me. Or, the fact that you knew, because it’s your birthday, that I would let you stay here for the night.
So, the setting for this letter couldn’t be better. When you read this, you’ll know that I wrote while watching you rest.
I think over the past decade, and am in awe at the way you, who was once a tiny being, have had one of the biggest impacts on my heart.
You are so thoughtful. How could I ever guess that when you first asked me how to use the microwave, it was because you wanted to make me a hot chocolate. You know how much I love them! And the days when I awake to an aromatic cup sitting on my nightstand are some of the sweetest mornings indeed.
I love the way you save the top of your freeze pop for me. I have noticed that when you open them, the amount you cut off keeps getting bigger, thus increasing my portion. 🙂
I think though, my favorite gestures of your thoughtfulness, are your letters. Reading your words of love makes me feel like I’m doing something right. It’s too early for you to understand, but when you have children of your own one day, you’ll feel this compulsion and fear to not mess up. There will be days when you think you’re doing an okay job and others when you wish for a do-over. The way you see me matters so much. I hope you continue to look at me the way you do now.
You are amazingly talented and artistic. I enjoy your drawings so much Ava…they are beautiful. And what would this home be like without your voice filling it with song? Your spirit brings a force that causes shadows to dissipate, as you light up rooms with your presence.
Your smile is contagious. I love your glasses. I wish I could pull off twirling in a frilly skirt as well as you do. Your imagination inspires me. Your compassion for others makes my heart ache for their needs too. You’re too smart for your own good and I know that one day we’ll find ourselves in a battle of wits and I’ll lose. You’re headstrong, yet considerate. You have a sweet shyness about you that is endearing. You are generous and respectful. You’re mischievous and playful. Your brothers couldn’t have asked for a better big sister. Yes, you can be bossy, but you always have their back and look out for them without thinking twice. You are beautiful. Your faith is moving. I am a better person because of you and my life is richly blessed because you are in it.
Ava, I’m surprised that the sound of my typing hasn’t caused you to stir more. But, then again, you’ve always been a sound sleeper. Do you know that one of my favorite things to do when you were a baby was watching you sleep? You looked so peaceful and angelic, as the sound of your breathing softly filled the room.
I still love watching you sleep.
Every night before I go to bed, I check on you and your brothers, adjust your blankets, kiss your forehead and say a prayer. As I watch you tonight, I can’t help but marvel at how much you’ve grown. I remember how I used to cradle you as you nestled in my arms. There is a part of me that wishes I could hold you that way still. I always felt that my arms could protect you from any harm as they surrounded you. But, my darling baby did what babies do…and you grew.
Ava, as much as I wish I could save you from hurt: I can’t. But, I can promise you that even though I can’t prevent the storms of life, I can and will stand firm with you through them. I have weathered many trials in my own life. And, what I’ve learned is that if I relied on my own efforts, then I’d be washed away. But, by placing my hope in God, and enabling Him to be my shelter and refuge, I am able to endure. By His strength, I not only withstand, but I persevere.
As I think about your future, I pray that you will embrace that too. Remember you are never alone. You have a Heavenly Father who loves you and calls you the apple of His eye. You have your family here who absolutely adores you and friends who support you.
And you have me…always.
I hope you have a wonderful birthday. Celebrating you is so much fun, but it’s even better with chocolate cupcakes! I’ve been visualizing them in my head and if all goes well, then they’ll be so pretty. And hey, if we’re lucky, they may just be delicious too.
I love you Ava Grace.