Today I am the mother of a nine year old.
Nine. The last single digit birthday. The last age that sounds right with “and-a-half” tagged onto the end of it. The last year of the whimsical, wonderful pre-pre-teen stage, when magical thinking and a burgeoning awareness of the world live comfortably side by side behind an enigmatic expression.
Katie, my little girl, is nine.
Didn’t she just turn eight, like, yesterday?
I’m trying not to panic here, but tell me this: where does the time go?
Katie, I love you. I love the baby you were and the child you are and the woman you will be.
I love your zest for life, your unquenchable optimism, your childlike faith. I love the cute crooked teeth (those are from me; sorry!) that peek out from behind your ever-present grin. I love the way you face each day with determined good cheer, and the way your infrequent burst of temper dissolves as quickly as it came, like a brief summer squall passing away in the sunlight.
I love your goofy jokes (even the ones that don’t, strictly speaking, make sense) and your easygoing ways and how you get giggles which, once started, can’t be stopped by any force under the sun until they’ve run their full course and tears are streaming down your face. I love your tender heart and your million questions. I love the way you protect your brother, even when the protection is clearly (and loudly) unwanted. I love your joy.
I love your growing independence (but you might have to remind me sometimes). I love your tender heart. I love the way the world looks through your eyes, even while I’m showing it to you through mine. I love our talks, long rambles through the garden in your mind. I love our time together, and all the more because I know it will be short.
I love you, Katie. You are one of God’s best creations.
Happy ninth birthday.
(You just came up and started reading over my shoulder. Don’t worry, sweetheart. They’re almost all happy tears.)
And now for something completely Katie: