This year, your eleventh birthday letter was a little harder to pen. In fact, despite the date on this post, I’m a little late in writing. Not because there isn’t so much I want to tell you, but because I’m not sure how to start in this crazy 2020 pandemic year.
Normally, I write a letter talking more about who you are. But this year’s 5th grade back to school letter did a lot of that already. Also, I have found writing about you is harder now that you’re older because there are things that aren’t mine to say anymore. Gone are the days are funny posts about poop smears and escaping your cribs. There is still plenty to laugh about, but there are bigger issues too and a future teendom looming very close.
I also thought of just writing about what we did this year so you’d remember the highlights of 2020. Our beautiful holiday season with laughter and family. The eldest’s mommy and me trip to watch LSU play in the national football championship (sorry bud, doesn’t look like that’s going to be a return event soon). Our great adventure to Arizona, to stay in an amazing VRBO house, and see Sedona and the Grand Canyon and float Lake Powell before cutting the trip short because of the pandemic. The way we got hours and days and weeks together in a way we hadn’t in years. How we ate breakfast together and had devotions together and I played teacher. We even spent a week at “school” on the farm where grandfather Zoomed with your classes to talk about the cattle drives of old.
But a recap post didn’t seem fitting for your birthday love letter.
So I returned to old posts. Last year, I wrote a lot about the incredible decade milestone and how we celebrated. I was also tremendously relieved to see your ninth birthday letters went up a full two weeks late. I dug into each letter. Words that held true despite the passage of time.
Instead of penning all new words for your eleventh year love letter, I decided to use the words of the past that still hold true today. As does our love for you.
To the eldest,
At seven years old, I wrote, “he is obsessed with football. He is incredibly competitive. Yet he loves snuggling at night, reading together, and playing board games.” Ha! Man oh man – if it’s possible you love football more and are even more competitive! Funny how times change but people stay the same.
But I clarified in your eight year old letter, and this is true and one of your greatest qualities: He is focused on the things important to him. Your focus and drive will set you apart. It may make things hard too, but don’t conform. You be you.
In your sixth year love letter, I highlighted what I still believe to be completely true, “You’ve always been so curious about the Bible and God. In Pre-K3, they called you the preacher, and your Kindergarten teacher already has you pegged for the seminary.” You have a profound sense of faith and a calling to learn scripture and know God more. This will be the light that guides you and I pray it keeps you deeply centered as you encounter challenges.
At four, I shared how you are so sentimental and loving. You were my cuddler from the time you were born. I’m starting to see that slip and I miss “the kissy game.” This was true at three too.
One thing that has definitely changed from your three year old self to now is this third birthday love letter commentary: You are more of a follower than your siblings, but in the best consensus building way. You will be the peace maker and the people pleaser.
Little did I know how MUCH that would change. You were the follower then because you couldn’t get a word in edgewise. But ever since we gave you your own space to bloom in kindergarten, you haven’t needed to follow or please. That’s good.
At two, and beyond, I was captivated by your ability to figure anything out. Such an engineer: You can figure anything out. You were the first to crawl out of your bed this year and the first to learn how to open the doors and lock me out of the house.
I’ll close with my five year old love letter words, “I love how you march to the beat of your own drummer.” May it always be so. But know that wherever you march, daddy and I will always be there to cheer you on.
To little bit,
At seven, I said, “little bit is kind to animals and friends and babies, oh is she gracious. She is athletic and musical and artistic.” I said nearly the same thing in your eight year old letter too! Because that is who you are.
Isn’t it crazy that four years letter I could write those exact same words.
At six, I noticed, “you painstakingly made your bed and arranged all your stuffed animals in particular order, and then you promptly went to sleep in the floor because you didn’t want to mess it up.” Ha! You are still organizing our house and our life and watching Mom Hacks and have decided that instead of a teacher or a vet you will become an interior designer or a home organizer. You will knock that business out of the park!
In your nine year old love letter, I shared, “You stand your ground with the boys but have maintained your femininity.” It is still true today. You play basketball with the boys and then ask to get a pedicure. You can work cows and play with your dolls. I love you can adapt wherever God puts you.
In your fourth year love letter, not only did I highlight your artistry, but your passion for music and dance. You will still go in your room and sing and dance. Don’t ever lose your expression.
You love life. From our roller coaster rides of today, all the way back to two years old, I noticed: You absolutely love living and you throw your whole heart and body into it. Your lust for life is contagious.
I’ll close with a note from your three year old letter: You are fierce. So independent. So strong willed. So focused…You will face battles and challenges in your life my beloved, but you will stare them down and they will shake as you approach. You are so brave and fearless. I love that. The most remarkable thing about your strength is that it carries as its companion empathy and nurturing.
Independence is a consistent theme in every birthday note. You hang on to your bravery and independence. You will need it my love. But know that daddy and I are always here too.
To the baby,
In your seven year old post, I penned, “God has given you a deep wellspring of emotion, more mature than any child I’ve ever met.”
This is still true today. But I went on to say at eight, “my Renaissance man because his interests vary from cooking to sports to reading to creating Lego vehicles. Fishing is his biggest passion and he’ll practice casting in our pool when he’s away from the farm.” You are still casting in our pool!
You my dear are a man who feels deeply and curiously learns all the time. Even at six I said, “you see and hear everything my curious little sponge. Not only do you absorb all of the knowledge and information around you, but you also absorb others emotions.”
You are really tired these days because there’s so much pushing on you, and you’re a perfectionist and a pleaser. With the farm devastation and school and football, it’s a lot. And as I noted in the fifth thank you note, you have a tremendously strong work ethic and discipline. It’s extraordinary. Everyone comments on it. Allow for rest too.
Even at two, I noticed your sense of humor and continued to write about it because you are so funny. And you are my constant learner. My one who won’t put a book down late at night in bed. Well it was always so, even when you were two: You find life so funny and your laugh sets us all to laughing with you. You love to learn. You were the first one to know all your shapes and your colors and your animals. You could sit in my lap and read books for hours and want to drink up every new piece of information and commit it to memory. We will always be seekers in our home, on a journey to learn and understand more, because of you.
I wrote always about curiosity and laughter and your sensitive spirit. But I penned this at three years old, and I close with it now, “Your absolute delight in living fills up any space you invade. And there’s never any doubt about your love for everything you encounter because you tell us in no uncertain terms what you … It is a revelation to watch the world through your eyes. You are already becoming a man of honor…”
You live a life of honor and goodness. You are a true friend. Wherever you run, wherever you go, whatever ship calls you to captain it, know that daddy and I will always come when you call.
I know I say this every year, but I mean it more every year. It is such an honor to be your mother. It is the greatest gift I have ever been given. I pray for wisdom that daddy and I do this job well and that when you fly away you will always know you have a place to return.