My darling daughter,
Today you are 9 years old. How did that happen? Today I look at you and I realize that we are halfway through. Not halfway through our relationship, that's still years away, Lord willing. But halfway through the time of daily interaction with each other. 9 years from now you'll be moving out, you'll be starting college. Maybe you'll stay close and we will still see you with some regularity. Maybe you'll go somewhere far away and we'll only see you for rare and special occasions. Either way, when that happens you'll be outside of my daily influence.
Already it is starting to happen, incrementally. Sometimes I think I ask you to be more independent than you want to be and you are so good at knowing what you are ready for. I hope you keep that ability. People will always push you for more. You don't have to give it to them. Keep knowing what you want and being vocal about it. I love that about you.
So much about you is self contained. You don't always want to share your deepest feelings and sometimes I think you give the right answer instead of the real answer. I think you get that from me. I am not good at vulnerability, I'm not good at real friendship. Darling, my life is the poorer for it. Push through the scary stuff, precious girl. Surround yourself with friends who love you no matter what and show them who you really are. Real friends keep loving you even when they know the messy and smelly parts of you. And the friends who move away from you weren't really your friends anyway. Some things will hurt, sure, but, guess what? I'm always here too. There is not one thing you can do that would make me love you less. You and your brother are spectacular, the best things I've ever done.
This year you are starting to stretch your wings and even though we are only 7 days in to 4th grade, you've already learned an important lesson. All summer you stressed yourself out over riding the bus. You were nervous about it, unsure that it would be okay. Then you came home after the first day almost glowing about how much fun you had on the bus with your friends. Of course you did, that's why I hope you learn to go into new experiences without overwhelming yourself with nerves. Doing new things can be hard but they are rarely as hard as our minds make them out to be.
Darling, I love life with you. I love watching you discover new things. Lately you've found Gilligan's Island and I love listening to you laugh at Gilligan's crazy antics. I love going to the library with you and watching you load up on books. I love seeing what new style you'll come downstairs in each morning, already you are more fashionable than I ever was! I love your dedication to your friends, your care for the littler kids in your path and your kindness for every animal you've ever seen. I love watching you with Patrick, even when you are bickering I know that you are forging one of the most important relationships of your life. Every day I pray that you two can hold on to each other your entire life: he's the one who will know you the longest in your life!
Today's a day that will be full of friends, fun new experiences and Helen's choice activities and food. Most of all, I hope that today, and everyday, you know just how completely you are loved.