You have been alive for a decade. (Which means I’ve been a mother for a decade. This is possibly the weirdest thing that has ever happened to me, but I promise not to make this about me, okay?)
Since ten years is your whole life, you probably don’t really get the scope of a decade. Let me put it in perspective for you.
Ten years ago, this was you:
You were tiny and cute and never ever wanted to be left alone. You slept with your arms raised above your head like you were continually announcing a touchdown. You screamed when I bathed you, and your greatest accomplishments were filling diapers regularly and having the most adorable facial expressions anyone had ever seen. (I was so, so proud of you.)
This is you now:
You are long-legged and beautiful and like to shut yourself up with a friend and talk for hours. You get up early to shower and know how to do your own laundry and take the dog for walks (sometimes even without complaining). You write funny stories and make chore charts for your sister and are the smartest batter on the softball field. You binge-watch Dr. Who. (I am so, so proud of you.)
See what I mean? You’ve changed a bit. Just imagine you in another ten years. (Never mind. Don’t do that. I’m not quite ready for that. Let’s look at more pictures of you at age nine.)
Whew. That’s better.
You’re definitely double digits now, not quite a teenager but it’s getting pretty clear that we’re almost there. You’re too big for me to embarrass you by putting the details of your life on the internet, so I’ll keep this pretty short, okay? Mostly, I just want you to know that I see you.
I see you watching the world around you and taking it all in and working hard to use what you observe to make yourself a better person. (It’s working, too. I know it’s slow. Like, it will take your whole life and then a little longer slow. But it’s not wasted. Not ever.)
I see you working hard to be your best. At school. At softball. At home. With friends. (This. This doing the hard work of life is what we really want for you. This is where it’s at.)
I see you failing. I see you losing your temper. I see you being selfish. I see you recognizing it. I see you hating it. I see you fighting it. (That’s all any of us have.)
I see you being reasonable. I see you laughing at yourself. I see you apologizing. (I see you doing these things, some of the hardest things in the world, and I like you so, so much.)
I see you discovering worlds. Books. TV shows. Movies. I see your delight. I see your captivated imagination. I see your mind processing so much that is good and true and noble. (And there is so, so much more out there. Oh, the things we are going to enjoy together in the next decade.)
I see you. I know in your worse moments you are sure that I don’t understand you at all, that I just don’t get any of it, and that I am the most unfair and uncomprehending human on the planet. I know you are going to have more and more of those moments in the years to come. I wouldn’t say I look forward to those times, but it’s okay. It really is okay. Because we got through these last ten crazy years together (and, baby, were there some times…) and we’ll do the next ten the same way. Together.
Sometimes I won’t understand you. I promise to do my best to listen. Sometimes I will understand, but you won’t believe it. I promise to forgive the things you’ll say. Sometimes I will understand, and you will know I understand, but there won’t be anything either of us can do to take away the pain. I promise to cry with you. And laugh with you. And sit on the bed and watch Dr. Who with you until we feel a little better.
I love you, Elle-Belle. (And yes, I’m going to call you that forever.)