You are eight years old today, and you are amazing. When I look at you, I no longer see the chubby baby, alternately fussy and funny as she solemnly examined everything and everyone in her world, or the energetic toddler, legs pumping as she tried to keep up with her daddy’s giant strides, or the little girl with the magnetic green eyes, reading everything she could get her hands on and tending an ever-growing family of stuffed animals.
All of that is still there, of course, but now, for the first time, I am starting to see the tiniest glimpses of the future Katie, the girl who will grow into a woman, who is not simply a mix of her dad and I, but her own very unique, very complete person, with an indomitable spirit and her own special gifts to offer the world.
Do you know how wonderful and terrifying it is to see the ground rushing past beneath my feet and know that one day, if I do my job right, you will walk out from under our roof and into a whole big world, to take your place in a future that isn’t even written yet? I love the thought of that day and hate it, in equal measures. And it makes me frantic to fill up these days that are left with moments and meaning and the heritage that is mine to pass on to you.
You’ve grown so much in the past year, darling daughter. You’re in second grade now, and becoming ever more confident and comfortable in the world outside our door. You have good friends, who both accept your limitations and cheer your successes. Your questions are coming as fast as ever, but now you’re starting to ask some that I can’t answer in a ten minute talk on the way to school. Questions like: Why are people mean to each other? How can God and Jesus be the same person and different people? What if something bad happens to me? You still listen to me and your dad, but you’re starting to weigh what you hear and see and make up your own mind about things.
If I could give you just one piece of advice this year, it would be this rather selfish one: Don’t rush. I know that sounds funny, coming from the one who’s always telling you to hurry and get ready or hurry and put your seatbelt on, but I mean it. Don’t rush. Don’t rush to grow up. Don’t rush to know everything there is to know right now. Don’t rush to wear makeup or like boys. There will be time for all that, but you only get one today. And so do I.
Let’s play. Let’s draw. Let’s spin. Let’s dance. Let’s read. Let’s pretend. Let’s tell knock-knock jokes (even the ones I’ve heard a hundred times.) Let’s make the most of all the days.
I’m so grateful to have you as a daughter, Katie. Your coming transformed me—from a girl with a clean house and a flexible schedule, who slept late and arrived early and never made plans in advance, to a woman who has toys where knick-knacks used to be, and who has developed a greater capacity for fear and love and sacrifice than she ever thought possible.
The past eight years have been wonderful, sweet girl, and I am looking forward to many more with you—my daughter, my teacher, my child.