Sweet child, the idea that you are turning ten leaves me breathless. Every parent says it, but it’s so true for me – I blinked and suddenly you’d morphed from mewling infant into this tall, assured and graceful girl before me.
Here are ten things I want you to know, on your tenth birthday:
1. My admiration for you goes deeper than the roots of the world’s oldest tree.
I say admiration for a reason, because you actively inspire me, every single day. You are not scared to feel scared, and you are not afraid to conquer. You teach me about getting back up again, when you feel knocked down.
2. Your spirit is tenacious.
As a toddler, you danced in the leaves outside your gran’s house, and that dance has not stopped. You do not stop dancing, no matter what song the world is singing. You love music, so don’t stop sharing the music you love with me, and I will not stop showing you the music I love. We find a common ground there that I know is, and will always be, important for both of us.
3. You have an incredible way of handling people.
You’re perceptive, but not intrusive. You have an instinctual way of figuring someone out and going with it. Even the people I battle to read, you just know how to handle. Please remember this skill, all through your life. It will stand you in good stead, as you begin to pick and choose the people you spend time with.
4. You have faced so very much in ten years.
Far more than you and I even want to consider right now, because we’ll end up having a tearful laugh and going to make tea, rather than facing it all again. Let those things you put behind you, stay behind you. You are under no obligation to live with the ghosts of your past, at any time. You do not need to look back – you are not going that way.
5. You can and will laugh at your fears.
Do you remember those nights when it would storm, and you’d wake up, we’d watch Noddy DVDs and laugh at the thunder? Those nights live in my heart like a flower reaching up for the sunshine. Your cheerful face at 2am, even when you were frightened by all the noise, helped me get past a big fear of mine – storms. You taught me how to brave through them, and you’ve never even known how much they scared me. Spoiler alert – I used to wail and weep like a kid who’d lost their ice-cream every time one hit. You just see storms as an opportunity to have fun and laugh at the sky. Thank you.
6. We are a team.
Both feet in, no judgies, no backsies and no questions. When you were three, you suddenly went from being someone I had to care for, to being my teammate. It’s been like that since, even as our family has morphed into a far bigger team. You are an unquestioning ally, and I am yours. I want us to remain as thick as thieves like this, forever. Yes, that includes yelling “Girls Night” when we want to, and ignoring the world while we cuddle up for movies and popcorn. This is team building. This is what a team does.
7. You’re on the precipice of your teenage years.
Please be nothing like me, and everything like me. I know that might not make sense right now, but I want you to know that it is an incredible journey. The most intense adventures await you, but the biggest one will be the one you take within yourself. This is when that great adventure – the biggest one of your life – truly begins. During the next ten years of your life, you will probably fall in love, discover – at least – one thing that makes your heart sing, and you will begin to form your place in the world. Hold strong to the place you find here, for it will lay the pathway to the next ten, twenty and all the other years.
8. You are your own person, without question.
When you were four, I asked you to pass me something, and, because you were “reading” you looked up at me and said “I’m busy. Please do it yourself. Stop wasting my reading time”. Cheeky, perhaps, but it showed me how you are not afraid to give people their marching orders when required. Never be afraid to cut people off when they are wasting your time. Do not lose this skill (and yes, I know, you learnt all those lines from me). It is something I wish I had learnt earlier.
9. Please be patient with my mom heart.
I will never again hear the toddler words like “badum” or “ixbah” erupt from your mouth, for your vocabulary is now beautifully forming and your knowledge base expanding at a rate I battle to catch up with. You no longer have that childlike lisp, and you’re carving words into your tree of life. Please allow me to regale people and bore you with these stories of toddler words and the times you made me laugh – they are jewels embedded in my heart, but you can berate me about sharing them when you need to.
10. You are kind. Do not let the world change you.
And the tenth thing. This is the hard one. You are a kind, generous and sweet soul. Over the next ten years, someone or something, or a situation, or whatever, will hurt you, either intentionally or not. Please, whatever it is, come immediately to me. Heck, even if it is something I do. Yell, cry, scream and release it. Give it to me to handle, with you. I will carry the whole thing for you if you need me to. I will do everything I can to protect you from any harm, but life will have its way at some point. You will not face it alone. Ever. I am your mother, even on my absolute worst days, and nothing and nobody can stop me from that. The family tree we swing from is a mighty, mighty oak. We are born from a long line of very loud lioness women, you and I. We roar together and never alone.
Happy tenth birthday, child of my heart.
You are always the greatest surprise of my life, and the joy of my every day.
Thank you for choosing me to be your mama.