Here we are at fourteen, my not so little La La. I never believed them when they said, “the days are long, but the years are short.” I’m believing now. I’m believing and I’m wishing that I could do three months and two and six and seven and ten all over again with you. But I know time doesn’t work like that. So I’m going to do my best to do fourteen. To be the mom that you need 365 times fourteen and to pay attention to all of it.
I remember fourteen. I know, eye roll. I felt so old and I felt so me. I felt so sure and so conflicted. I wonder if you feel that way too?
This year I’ve felt so sure about the person you are becoming. I’m getting these glimpses – these real life tangible, see them with my physical eyes previews – of who you were created to be. It’s surreal and it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Your gifts and purpose seem to be apparent at a young age, which is a gift in itself. It’s tempting then to be sure of this and sure of that, but how you get there is the tricky part, even if you have a plan. I only know this because I am “almost half way to eighty,” as you kindly pointed out to me last night. You won’t always know the way, the route, the map, even if you have a plan. Don’t let that scare or ever detour you, because the beauty is…we only have to take steps, one at a time.
This past year I watched you take steps. Putting one foot in front of the other. Dipping your toes into future waters. You’ve taken steps in singing, in teaching yourself piano and ukelele. You’ve taken steps in kindness. You’ve taken steps in forgiveness and grace. And you’ve taken steps to lead. Sometimes this means you are a few steps ahead. It’s not a…I’m going to get ahead of everyone else, it’s more like you are ready to put your foot down before others. You decide this is my step and I can take it on my own, because it’s the right step for me. That’s something to be said of fourteen.
Keep taking steps; you’re going in the right direction. I’ll be right beside you, every step of the way! I couldn’t be more proud of you – just as you are this minute – in this moment.
You know . . . you are almost halfway to thirty,” but let’s not think about that today, because fourteen is really fun!
+you (still) sing more than you talk – and you talk a lot, and really fast, at this point in life.
+your Starbuck’s palette is becoming more sophisticated (did I just use that word in conjunction with Starbuck’s?)–Venti (if I’m generous) iced decaf caramel macchiato with raspberry syrup.
+i said we should watch Gilmore Girls together and you said, “ahhh no.” Now you ask me every night if we can watch an episode.
+you tell me you don’t like to read. I’m just logging this because I believe one day you will love it and be surprised at yourself that you didn’t like it.
+you are so good at keeping your room clean (haha….still saying this in faith)
+you have a compassionate heart towards those in need. I saw it spill out of your eyes this past weekend in Chicago in front of Eataly.
+you are teaching yourself ukulele and piano and beginning to write worship songs.
+you don’t like to eat breakfast but you drink orange juice at all times of the day.
+My dad always called me “junior mommy” and I never quite felt like it, you took that title up and it fits.
+you love to watch Dance Mom’s and you have shed tears over Miranda Sings getting divorced.
+favorite words: “I’m good.”
+you got baptized this year.
+your eyebrows are on fleek.
+you sing and I’m shook. hahahaha. yes, I did.
+you saw your first musical, Hamilton, and it was everything you hoped it would be.
You and me. This past year when I’ve looked at your face I’ve seen mine. Not mine now, but mine then. Chipmunk cheeks, a gap-toothed grin, freckles sprinkled across a button nose. It’s strange and amazing to look at the kid you never saw in the mirror.
Five. Five always feels official. Four felt like I could cheat and call you a toddler still. But five doesn’t work that way. Five means Kindergarten and all kinds of bigger kidness calling.
I finally understand why moms baby their babies. It’s hard to see them grow. You don’t look at milestones as firsts. You look at them as lasts.
You are four. I don’t have any pretty words or ways to say this except that I’m not OK with this. I like that you can use the potty and climb in the car, but if those chubby cheeks of yours start thinning out, then I might have meltdown right along with you. Your button nose sits just so between your two cloud like cheeks. At this moment in time, you are my last little squidgy and I’m not sure what to make of that.
I’m praying your expressiveness never goes away. That way you turn both eyes up to one side and raise those eyebrows of yours, with eyes closed, as you are trying to make a point. Your face so expressive. Don’t loose that as you leap from 4 to 5 and 5 to 6 and 6 to 20.
+ Your pronouns are still perfectly placed as far as I’m concerned. “No my don’t!” Yes, my are!” “Her like that. Him really do.”
+ Your favorite bedtime song is the animal song. Which is made up and goes like this…”On the first day the Lord made the ______. ” We choose the animal and you make the noise. For some reason we go to 10 days. You say we can only do animals that live in the rainforest. Best of all, there is an animal, according to you, called a “college.”
+ Only cereal for breakfast or a frozen (literally) waffle you can walk around with
+ Netflix on the iPad is your favorite or Peppa Pig on the computer
+ “What is your middle name?” “Rocco Taco McMeemy”
+ Miam is your best friend
+ You love to dress up in costumes and Dark Vader is your favorite.
+ “Tonight we have squash?” You ask every night. “No.” “Yay!”
+ You always want “zert” after dinner
+ You love to eat at Chick-a-Lay
+ Cars are a favorite toy
+ You have lots of friends
+ Every night at dinner you like to start, “best part, worst”
+ You still stick your tongue out like a puppy dog when you are shy, embarrassed or happy
+ You are just so silly
Most days I can’t take my eyes off you. Yes, because you might run into the street. Also, because you say the funniest things that catch my attention, even from the other side of the house. Because you squeeze me tighter than anyone ever has. But, also because when I look at you, I see someone I used to know. A younger, care free, open hearted me. Sparkle in the eyes and a gallop in the step. I see you close those eyes and raise those eyebrows and I know, without needing photos to prove it, just how I used to look. I see you scrunch that button nose and those chubby cheeks puffing up and I can feel my cheeks being pinched, again. When I look at you each day I remember to be me. It’s your birthday and I get the gift. Everyday I get the gift of you. I love you, puppy.
little la la,
yesterday, in chicago, you told me your name isn’t la la. i’m not sure if you rolled your eyes, but i rolled mine. my jr. high self meeting yours. no, your name is ella. would have been eleanor. beautiful fairy. light. grace. and, as amy says, queen of the sea. but, you are still ella bella ding dong, lolli-pop, ella grace with the pretty pretty face, and la la (as your little brothers started calling you – well, that and butthead). you can’t take your names away – not even from yourself. and, one day, you won’t want to. you’ll laugh with your brothers, bigger then you, when they, in man voices, call you la la. if you are lucky, like me, they will even have new names for you. just as i have jumbo for jay.
it’s an interesting thing becoming ourselves.