Friday, January 10, 2014

Dear Gemma,

One of my favorite times of the day is when you are lying in bed, with the ever-present DuckyDucky pressed close to your face, Daddy lying next to you, playing a song on his phone while you both look at constellations. I crawl up on the other side of you. You close your eyes and nuzzle back, sighing contentedly. It's what I imagine heaven feels like.

I love to see you run off to school, giant coat and backpack on, little legs in your skinny jeans tucked into boots, hair streaming behind you as you yell over your shoulder, "Bye, Mom! See you later! Love you!" Something about the whole scene is just so dang amusing. Like I think you're playing dress-up or something. But then I realize that, no, you actually are old enough to go to school with the kids and I wonder how in the world that happened.

Even though you're getting older, you're still every bit the cuddlebug you've always been. I don't think you can ever get enough hugs. That's good, because I've got lots to give. You love to interrupt what I'm doing just to tell me you love me. It could be that I'm making dinner, or taking a shower, or talking on the phone. My impatient, "What?" quickly melts when you blink your big blue eyes and quietly shrug, "I just wanted to say I love you." And I find myself softening and reciprocating. I only draw the line when you ask to kiss me on my cheek and I'm doing something like pulling a pot out of the oven, or driving. Your love knows no boundaries.

This year you tried skiing for the first time - you are hilarious to watch. In the beginning, it was almost confusing how a kid that small could make a snowplow stance that big. But there you were, whizzing down green and blue runs, legs in an enormous pizza. We've graduated to french fries with s-turns, but you still revert to a pizza on the steep parts. That's ok, so do I.

You've embraced ballet like it's your job. You hope it will be, at least. This last Christmas marked the second time you got to attend the Nutcracker in Denver. We looked forward to that for weeks. Unfortunately, you got sick the night before. But, not one to miss the performance of the year, you vowed to be "just fine," and I, in perhaps a more reckless-parent move, allowed you. I don't regret it for a second. You continue to like the girliest of things while maintaining a fervent adoration of robots and space. I love this about you.

You're starting to write notes and this has got to be one of my favorite parts of growing up. Recently, true to your loving nature, you gave me your first note to me:

Your only weakness is that sometimes you can be mean. I think you take things too personally. We've had talks about how to react when you perceive others are mean to you. I told you, "Don't think they're mean, think, 'Oh poor them, they're having a tough day.'" Months later, we sat in church and a girl in the pew in front of us did not want to engage in the conversation you were trying to strike up. She was scowling at you and I could see you getting agitated. About 10 minutes later, it was like a lightbulb went on and you turned to me, face alight, and whispered, "Hey Mom! She's not being mean - she's having a tough day!" And then you settled back, as if the weight of the world had been lifted from your shoulders.

You taught me a lesson that day. I sat there and considered how much happier and peaceful I could be if that was the attitude I took toward everyone - from people at school or the grocery store, to the person who cuts me off on the freeway. So I'm going to adopt that mantra. Thank you for teaching me that the lessons I teach you extend beyond the school playground.

And while you can sometimes be mean, you have a good heart. It may sound like an odd compliment, but you are the best apologizer (apologist?) ever. After thinking about what you did wrong, you come to me and not only say you are sorry, but you detail what you've done and how you have wronged me, and vow to do better. I'm not sure where you learned it, but you've added, "Will you accept my apology?" to the end of your little speech. And I've got to say, for the most part your dramatic apology isn't even warranted. But I like your honesty and the intensity with which you greet this act. If I really think about it, it's probably the most dramatic part of your day or week, so I'm glad you take it seriously.

I love the way you love. Once upon a time we used to cuddle on the couch after the kids left for school. I try, even now, to say yes whenever you ask if we can cuddle because I know it's just a few minutes Your dad will stop working and play a 10-minute game with you every single day (unless he's on a call). We want you to know that whenever you come to us, we will have time for you because spending time with you is more important than anything else we have.

Thank you for making me feel like the best mom in the world. Thank you for loving us with your whole self. And, above else, thank you for bringing a little bit of heaven into our home.



Wanda said...

I just love these new year posts!