Tuesday, March 4, 2008

6 years and 7 months

Dear ChellBell, today we celebrate 79 months of you-ness. It amazes me that you have been around that long. Though sometimes it feels like you’ve always been around, because I don’t remember a me without a you.

Just thinking back 79 months ago... Strange that I can't remember what I had for lunch yesterday, but I can remember how you smelled the first time I held you and the exact sound of your cry (on account of the fact that we heard it so very much during the first 12 weeks of your life...). I had been secretly praying that God would send a little girl because that's how I pictured our family. Daddy, Mama, baby girl. And that baby girl would have red curly hair, just like me. And then out you came. A mini-me.

Once you got through that screaming phase and became a normal child, you really did become a little me. Loving the spotlight. Singing more than talking. Drawing whenever you had a chance. Laughing. Reading. Crazy about crafts. So I just thought there was another me in the family. And I started to expect you to do things just like me. Never thinking that we might be different.

But I've started seeing some differences in us. You do your own thing. It doesn't really matter what everyone else is doing. You do what makes you happy. You're not gregarious or have a need to constantly be with people. You can occupy yourself and be very content. You're incredibly imaginative. You don't do things just to please me. You don't care about being popular. You don't like to shop or pick out your own clothes.

Most of these traits come straight from Daddy. Funny, I never considered that my mini-me might actually end up to be more like her Father!

I will be honest that it bothered me to see these Daddy-like traits begin to develop in you. Because they weren't Mama-like traits. If it were left to me, I would already be coaching you on diplomacy and winning the popular vote. How to mingle and carry on a conversation with anyone or anything. Teaching you how to throw big parties and entertain. You know, those social successes that have always been important to me.

But you have a different idea of success. Like being your own self at the ripe age of 6. To not be swayed by anyone else. To be determined to do the things that you want to do for yourself, not operating on someone else's agenda (though you still have to clean your room, even though that's on my agenda, not yours). You're more comfortable one-on-one than in groups. And you're not wrapped up in being Number One or being Most Favorite Six Year Old.

So I am learning to let YOU be YOU and not making you be ME. You are, of course, my Most Favorite Six Year Old, and I promise not to change the things that make you unique.

This has been a great month, and I have been so proud to sit back and watch you become more deliberate about school work (even though I know it is so boring to count quarters, nickels, and dimes over and over, but believe me, this is one skill you will absolutely use in real life). And I was pleased to see that you were so easily motivated to do your homework when I offered one Girl Scout cookie for each page completed neatly and correctly. I have never seen you finish 8 pages of homework so quickly. Nor have I seen you eat 8 cookies so quickly.

And after practicing and practicing, it was exciting to watch you earn a new title and a medal to go with it. National Cheerleading Champion. Your cheer team -- The Texas Cutez -- worked so hard to get every move just right. You kept asking, “Mama, does it look sharp? I mean really really sharp?” as you practiced your jumps over and over again. Determined to do your best.

Determination. Having your eye on the prize, whatever that is -- a Girl Scout cookie or a Cheerleading Championship -- and working as hard as you can to get there. ChellBell, you definitely have determination. I want to warn you -- you may not always come home with a trophy. But with determination, you will always come home knowing that you gave it your absolute best. And that is success.

I'm so glad you have your whole life ahead of you. I still have a lot of life ahead of me too, but I spend a lot more of my time turning around to see how you are experiencing the journey. Watching you learn. Watching your expressions. Your response to life actually adds to my journey. And makes me a better Mom.

Being your Mama. What a privilege.

Love you, my sweet. My girl. My (sort-of) mini-me.

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