17 June 2011

And Now She Is Seven


Dearest darling Daughter: 

Seven years ago today, you were born.  
Your labor and delivery were, in a word, horrific.  

As were the first six weeks of your life.  I have a vivid memory of our sweet friends Marianna and Mary Ellen driving us around for hours in the dark, hoping you would sleep, and yet, just more screaming. 

But we made it through.  I gave you a bottle, and you looked up and said, "Finally."  Well, at least you said it with your eyes and the six hours and forty three minutes that you slept.

At Seven Weeks - Happy Baby
And since then, you have brought immense joy.

At Two Years, Eight Months
Rarely do daughters get to serve as their mother's flower girls (and rarely would we want such), but you did your job with perfection when you were not yet two.  Rarely do Daddies get to chose to be Daddies to specific little blonde, blue-eyed girls, but your Daddy did, and maintains its the second best decision he's ever made.  I hope you know his best. 

You are a sister before all else.
Day After Eason's Birth - Two Years, Nine Months

Afternoon Collins was Born - Five Years, One Day

Your brothers both adore you, and, thankfully, you find it easy to adore them.  You and Eas bicker, but you're learning, ever so slowly, that he matters more than those things about which you might fight.  You don't mother Collins very much, which has been a constant prayer of mine for you, but he still toddles behind you both.
End of Summer, 2010

Please remember that they love you and believe you hung the moon.  It took me a long time to realize this about my brothers, and I regret the number of times I bossed and snipped and even, perhaps, pulled hair.
You are the first:  with great power comes great responsibility. 

Your godparents, Melissa and Dan, have now spent more than seven years entirely doting on you.  In fact, they have been pestering me over the last few weeks about birthday present ideas, and I have been failing.  Not because I wouldn't shower you with all sorts of presents if I could (and if it were advisable), but because you are an independent soul.  We have bought craft supplies galore, and still, you invent out of egg cartons and pine cones, driving me crazy and growing me all the same.  [I prayed for patience; you started a rock collection].  We have bought toys for outside, and yet, you find sticks and daddy's tarp and create a tent.  You are a planner and a doer, definitely a dreamer, and not always a follower through.  So your godparents are sending you to the ballet at Thalia Mara and taking you on a shopping spree at our favorite local book store.  They know you well. 

Ada Brooks, your grandparents adore you.  Grandma and Grandpa, your daddy's parents, take you on adventures galore.  You love visiting the New Orleans zoo and aquarium, or simply trotting along behind Grandma at the Farmer's Market.  You got your first birthday present of the season from them - a Kindle.  You are a twenty-first century child.  Papa, the man for whom you were named, still maintains that he loves you the most (a patent falsehood), and his delightful wife showers you with the perfect amount of grandmotherly spoiling.  My mother, who you resemble most definitely, has finished grieving the misspelling of your name (she wanted an H at the end, but I fought hard and held out for the palindromic simplicity we have today).  Your Ba, as you call her, lets you lick beaters and always washes your hands with warm bath cloths, rather than subjecting you to the harsh reality of (ground-temperature) tap water.  And then there is D, whose Donald Duck impression makes you sing. 

You love all things academic; you are, at this moment, explaining homonyms to your brother.  I love you for this and this for you, but I wish the intensity that accompanies it didn't.  I wish you'd breathe, calm down, laugh.  Yesterday, you teared up because your cursive A wasn't with the right slant.  Twelve or so times a day, I remind you to take control of your emotions, and you are doing better at that, but I fear it will be your lifelong struggle.  Take the intense joy, my sweet girl, and leave behind the intense pressure and general frustration at yourself and others.

You have dear, sweet, wonderful friends, and I am able to see how they gift you and you them.  You are blessed to be part of a church and a school that surrounds you with people who love you, who are bright and fun, and who take their work, but not themselves, seriously.  Give thanks for those people, my sweet love.  You know not how greatly you are blessed.

I am blessed by you.  You challenge me, you encourage me, you make me laugh.  A dear, wonderful priest of mine - he baptized your middle brother - once told me that his son, Benjamin, was his PhD.  You are my PhD, my dear.  It is a gift to educate you, to cook with you, and even to discipline you.  For, in each act of discipline, I am myself disciplined.

Sometimes, mothers are adults long before they are mothers, but often times (even for women who missed the 'teen mother' moniker by longer than five weeks), it is the mothering of that first child that grows us up.  You have grown me up, my daughter.  Or, more accurately, our Lord has seen fit to use you to grow me up. 

And, for posterity, some less important things:

  • Your favorite foods are bacon, ice cream, shrimp and cheese dip.  
  • Your three favorite eating establishments are Brent's Drugs, Bravo!, and Taco Bell.  At Brent's, you get a BLT, at Taco Bell, as many bean burritos as I'll allow, and at Bravo!, well, last night with Papa and Carrie, you got Shrimp with Mint on Angel Hair.  
  • You eat more than any seven year old in the history of the world.  But it's (almost) all good for you, and we laugh about it. 
  • You are still not coordinated - at all -  but you're a bit more over it. 
  • You are reading, right now, Five Little Peppers and How They Grew on your Kindle.  
  • You have absorbed from your father the idea that its okay to read more than one book at once (another falsehood).  And so are also reading "The Little Riders" from the Library. 
  • You like television, though its all Netflix Instant View for you, and you love Pink Panther (yay) and some tacky Japanese show called Avatar, the Last Air Bender (more Paul Forster influence). 
  • You love the pool, but cannot dive (see uncoordinated above), and that drives you crazy (not an example of you being over it). 
  • Your hair is getting darker and your eyes less blue and more green.  You are fairly modest, though in the privacy of your own home, don't understand why panties aren't the perfect uniform (and who can blame you).  
  • You don't like cake, but if you had to pick, it'd be Coconut.  
  • You cannot sing, but you do it with gusto.  Your Calen is trying to fix the former; we're, for the moment, doing nothing to correct the latter. 
  • You've become quite an accomplished little cook.  You can do Banana Muffins without supervision and Biscuit Bread from memory, though you like help with the heavy cast iron skillet.  You get in bed with cookbooks, and I try not to let my face break from smiling.  

But you are ever yet a little bitty thing.  You have miles to go before I sleep, my darling, and the Lord sends me reminders of this daily, like this one, on Wednesday:  

Me, To Daddy:  "Ada and I could fly and you stay home with the boys, but we'd have to rent a car."
You, interjecting:  "Why can't we just take our car on the plane - you know - like a ferry?"

I love you, sweet, baby girl.

You are a blessing, a gift and a challenge, and I wouldn't have you any other way.



  1. This made me cry, I cant lie. You're such a good mother, and your Ada is adorable!

  2. Sissy Strickland tolbert17 June, 2011 16:59

    I am crying as well. She is a doll baby...and your letter so beautiful! The list at the end is a wonderful addition she'll appreciate just as much!