Nine.

The weather is a welcome treat this week. Warm and little snow. 25 and we go outside easily without coats. Hats and mittens are yet to come out.

 

In 2002 the first week of December brought below zero temperatures.  Everyone who visited us during those five days in the hospital came in with red wind-burnt cheeks and their shoulders up bracing the cold and immediately mentioned how cold it was for so early in the year.

 

I glanced to the window and smiled not quite believing my luck to be holed up in a hospital with not quite five pounds of baby on my chest.

The week I became a mother.

 

Sometimes I think that Eloise was born an old lady. My real-life Benjamin Buttons.  I’ve heard it all in these nine years – “she’s an old soul” “she’s not a normal kid” “why doesn’t she just go play” “she’s an amazing big sister” “she must be a great help” “she’s the kid that teacher’s dream about”

 

Sometimes I wonder if it’s too much for her to bear..to be born without an ego.

I look at this girl- who everyone said to handle with care – who could not handle change – and who would worry about everything – who is so much like her father – and I see a young lady…YES a young lady… who is nothing like what people said – A girl who went to five different schools in five years, who handled the birth of two sisters, the move of a house, the funeral of grandparents, the making of new friends, and a clearly imperfect mother – and I see this girl who is ready for a beautiful life of her own.

 

I see this girl who in kindergarten took a scared new friend and held her hand and told her that everything would be fine and they would be best friends. This girl who always finds that kid on the playground who is sitting alone – and asks them to play.

I see this girl who has never fought with her sisters. Who has never fought another child for a toy. Who would never take something from someone – even as a two year old. Who will always let you go first.  Who will in a minute give-up her place in line. Who will drop everything she is doing if she hears her sister cry. Who will ask if I would like a coffee if she happens to be in the kitchen. And who will offer you the last cookie before taking it herself.

 

I see a girl who does not raise her hand in school – not because she doesn’t know the answer – but because to her it seems boastful. A girl that rarely talks about herself, but listens to what others have to say. I see a girl who rushes home from the bus so she can practice her piano for an hour – without me asking, but would probably not mention to you that she even plays. Very well.  I see a girl who immerses herself in a novel and yet takes the time to read picture books to her sister.  I see a girl whose best friend is her almost seven year old sister and sometimes they spoon when they sleep. They giggle in the shower.

 

This girl that I told when she was just three she needed to be more assertive and stand up for herself. Don’t be a doormat! Because her preschool teacher told me to. And this little girl looked up at me and said “why would I ever fight someone for something that clearly must mean more to them if they needed it so badly that they took it from my hands. It’s just a toy.”  We never had that discussion again.

I see this girl who now wants to spend more time with friends. Who likes to walk to the bus stop by herself and wants her own room. I see this girl who I bet – no I really know – that if for some horrible reason she had to solely take care of her two sisters for a week(never would it happen) but I bet you my life she could do it. I trust this girl. Sometimes I believe she is not really nine. I see this girl who instead of presents at her birthday party is asking her guests to bring toys to donate to Toys 4 Tots because she gets that there are others who would get nothing for Christmas if we don’t help.

 

And I see a girl who is ready for the next part of growing up.  The little girl years seem so easy now. The problems seem so silly really. I look at Astrid at two and sometimes I just laugh her issues off because I know – I see – “girlfriend – you are two – just wait until you are 12 – then I will pay attention to your issues.”

 

And I think about how wrapped up I probably was in Eloise’s two year old issues. And I feel bad for all firstborns and I hope they are a forgiving bunch – at least I know Eloise is.  I thank her for what she taught me so I am a better mom to her younger sisters.

 

Gone are the twirly dresses and bright mismatched colors of a little girls wardrobes. Gone are the pigtails. I now see this young lady who chooses clothes like mine, music like mine and straightens her hair.

 

And I truly don’t miss that little girl anymore. She’s is still there in the back of my mind, in the many photographs and occasionally I catch a glimpse when there’s a dance party in the living room and flour on her nose when baking with her sisters.   Why pine away for those years that have past when now I see before me this beautiful being who will one day very soon be an incredible woman living right here under my roof.

*******

So it’s in this note today I am formally apologizing to you Eloise because I fear I am going to mess this shit like totally up during the next four years. Puberty. Periods. Boobs. Hair. Shaving. Tampons. Boys.

There is like so much stuff that you need to know and I am just sorry that I’m feeling like an idiot right now thinking about it.  So forgive me while we stumble together.

 

And do me a huge favor and talk to your sisters about this kind of stuff when they reach that age – and I know you will do this – and probably push me out of the room and roll your eyes as you explain to them how badly I handled it. I can hear you now “let me handle this, Mom.” And I will walk out and cross myself as I thank heaven above for sending you my way.

 

Because what I love the most about you, Eloise…is that your heart is evidently too big for your tiny body because your ability to forgive and love unconditionally is beyond your years.

 

I just want you to stay sane, stay safe, stay smart and stay away from those stupid boys. Date a nice cello player. And while I will always, always be here for you – the wings you have grown my dear…well they suit you very well.

 

And it warms me every time I can still hug you against my chest and kiss your head because I know soon you will stand taller than me.

 

As I always knew you would.

 

Happy 9th Birthday, Sweet Eloise.

 

The world is so much better because you are here.

 

xoxo,

Mom

********

And in case you need more – and want to see beauty grow  – Happy Eighth, Seventh, and Sixth

About Tracy


My name is Tracy Morrison and I live in sunny Minnesota. I'm neither British nor a nun - I'm just a Midwesterner with a headache. This is mainly a humor and lifestyle blog that documents the lighter side of parenting. I am an ex-corporate ladder climber turned freelance writer, social media manager, world traveler, and marathon runner. I would love for you to contact me at tracy@sellabitmum.com

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Comments

  1. says

    Oh this is perfect, what an amazing letter for her to read some day. I love how you embrace the journey of your kids growing up instead of crying about them getting older.
    And you ARE the perfect mom. xo

    • admin says

      So imperfect in so many ways. Sometimes I wonder if Eloise keeps a list. ;)

      And I do – Oh I love watching these amazing people grow. Doesn’t it just get better and better?

  2. says

    You are both very, very blessed. Happy birthday to an incredible young woman, and to the Mom who’s taking her through life with amazing grace.

  3. says

    Well, I’m glad if I had to cry this morning it was because of this post and not my (almost 4 year old) daughter’s antics.

    I can’t imagine how much she will treasure this. She is amazing, and I just know it’s because of your life and your example.

  4. says

    Goodness sakes, crying in my coffee this morning. You have captured her so well, and she will love reading this some day. Happy Birthday hugs!

  5. Carrie says

    This is so beautiful. Your love and respect for your amazing girl are what will get you through the bumpy tweens and beyond. Thank you for this gorgeous birthday tribute!

    • admin says

      Thank you kind friend. And thank you for sharing this today. Nine. Seems like yesterday we sat with these babies in a circle.

  6. says

    Oh my dear friend…I knew you would nail this once the words started flowing…

    But I am teary over it and the beauty of your girl’s heart and soul. And those pictures are fabulous! My own girl is 13, and these words really spoke to me.

    Happy Being a Mom Day…xo

  7. says

    The right kid for the right time. Seriously.

    I keep wondering how moms do it. How they let their kids grow up and and see them as adults when the time comes, not their kids, because my mom, my MIL, they can’t seem to do it. However, I look at you, and I know it is possible, so maybe I can pull it off too.

    Also, when can I hire her to babysit? She seems so.. responsible.

    • admin says

      Oh she would love to babysit. You’ll have to ask my mother what the secret it because she did it with me. Maybe it was charging me rent when I turned 16? ;) She let us make a lot of our own decisions and trusted us and sometimes had to watch us fail – but she prepared us well and gave us wings. Nothing drives me more crazy when I see mom’s treating their 30 y.o like a child.

  8. says

    She’s such a beautiful girl – and, well, something tells me that you haven’t done that poor a job in creating someone who is so selfless, seemingly by nature.

    That twinkle & kinda smirk of a smile worry me, for you, over the next couple of years, though :-p

    • admin says

      Ha – you see it don’t you. Sometimes it’s the quiet ones that surprise us isn’t it. xo

  9. says

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY Eloise, you make the world better just by smiling.
    There are no words for me to say how beautiful, heartfelt and special this letter was, but it stopped me today,in my tracks, made meput hands to keyboard to tell you so.

    I was often told that I was an “old soul” as a young girl..and it’s been a gift really. I like knowing you have Eloise in your life, every mom shoul be able to be that proud and amazed at the child they created.

    wishes for a day and year as special as she is. xo

    • admin says

      Oh Eloise will be a lucky girl if she just has a smidgen of your beautiful old soul. Love that.

  10. says

    Oh my Mama heart is just so full reading these lovely words about and to your dear girl.

    She reminds me a lot of my oldest, there’s just something about being the first born into the family. And people always say my Ben (Benjamin Buttons!) is an old soul too. I can totally relate.

    Anyway…

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY to her! I just love this so…

  11. says

    This is so lovely. You are so thoughtful and able to express your feelings well in writing. Eloise is so mature and caring. Your lucky to have each other.

  12. says

    Beautiful, Tracy. She has a lot in common with my oldest daughter, who turns 21 tomorrow. God sends these unbelievable girls to high-strung mothers so we can learn there is another way to live life.
    I still haven’t learned, but at least I can see through Heidi that it’s possible.
    You will screw it up. But she’ll forgive you. That’s who she is.

  13. says

    and you’ve made me cry…thank God I’m not wearing make up…
    What a beautiful young lady you have there…Eloise sounds like pure joy…I hope birthday celebrations are wonderful tonight

    and really? 25 is warm? would you laugh if I told you my kids wore gloves and hoodies and hats to brave the 65 degree weather?

  14. says

    What a wonderful tribute to an amazing girl! She really sounds like a very special lady who has been given fantastic gifts to share.

    I hope she has a wonderful birthday.

  15. says

    Crying – remembering that day – the first time I saw and held her – each visit I have with her I can see her growing & so sweet. You have taught her well. You have taught her to be kind, selfless, generous, talented. You embrace her feelings and encourage her growth. You are giving her the wings she will always need – what more can she need right now! Happy Day to both of you:)

  16. says

    Happy Birthday to her! She looked so tiny when she was born (I had tiny babies, too).

    Aah, old souls! I’m sure that presented an interesting parenting challenge thus far.

    I love the photos with the chair!

  17. says

    That was my favorite thing you’ve ever written. She’s such a beautiful girl. Inside and out from what I can tell. I’d want to be her friend.

    • admin says

      Thank you for these kind words. I know – whenever she comes home and maybe something happened and is all “but ‘sue’ doesn’t wan to be my friend anymore” I’m all like – that’s impossible!

  18. says

    This was so beautiful. You’ve done a fantastic job raising her. She sounds like a kind, gentle and mature girl. Someone I’d love for my daughter to be friends with.

  19. says

    Happy Birthday, Eloise!

    What a beautiful letter, Tracy. You express your heart-felt emotions so well. And I too, love that you embrace your children getting older.

  20. says

    Happy birthday, Eloise! I didn’t know she had such a tiny start. She is such a lovely child, Tracy. Reminds me of Sawyer in some ways.

    Also? You will not mess any of that stuff up. Not even.

    Much love to you my friend and to your first.. xoxo

    • admin says

      Yes – all three of my babies were tiny ones.

      I dunno – I’m pretty worried here that puberty will not be my strong suit.

  21. says

    Oh my hart, this is stunning.

    Happy birthday to your sweet beautiful soulful girl.

    {And much love to you, Mama- because kids like this do not raise themselves. no, they don’t.}

  22. says

    oh my goodness.

    this was some of the best, heartfelt writing you’ve ever done, and I loved learning so much about Eloise. I loved your humor, your self deprication, and your earnestness. Just breathtaking. *HUG* and Happy Birthday to Eloise! Middle Sister just turned 9 on Nov 26th :)

  23. says

    Oh, simply beautiful, just like Eloise! (And that newborn photo is adorable, Eloise looks so elegant & graceful from birth!) I always love your birthday post letters to your girls. What a precious gift your words are to them! Hope that Eloise has had a most lovely day celebrating & being celebrated! Jack just turned 10 this week…I am praying for us both as we navigate the years ahead with our first-borns…lots of forgiveness & grace, for sure! Blessings on your sweet Eloise!

  24. says

    What a beautiful love letter to your lovely daughter this was. I saw the pictures you’ve posted of Eloise, and she looked exactly as you have described her. A young woman whose beauty shines through straight from her kind heart and gentle-soul.

    This is definitely one of my favorites among your posts! The other one was the Proud Mommy Moments post you wrote for Kirsten of the Kir Corner. As a fellow mother to a daughter, I was so very touched by your every word. How I wish I could write how I feel for my daughter as well as you did on your posts.

    You really described your daughter in that special way that only mothers could. As the mother who gave birth to her, who’s loved her ever since and has watched her grow, who’s taught her about kindness, love, and life.

    Amazing, truly inspiring post.

    Happy birthday, Eloise.

  25. says

    Simply breathtaking, my friend.
    Thank you for sharing Eloise with us…for helping us to know her a bit better.
    What a lucky family you are.
    xo

  26. grandma says

    You made me cry. What a beautiful tribute to very special Eloise. I hope she is reading this today
    and treasuring it for the future. We are so lucky for her, you. Jed, Esther and Astrid. You,ve both done such a good job with making the kids what they are.
    Love

  27. says

    This was absolutely beautiful, Tracy. But remember, she got all that is her from much of you, so her manner/demeanor are not surprising. Having this to read will only bolster all that she already is.