Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Dear Ainsleigh,

A couple times this year I've asked you how to be your mom. I've said, "I don't know what to do. I don't know what I'm doing, but I'm doing the best I can." I know that's not really fair to you because you also don't know how to be a mom. I just need you to know that sometimes I'm going to fail, and sometimes you're going to be mad at rules/decisions, but you have to know that I love you so very very much, and I'm trying to do the best job for you.

You're getting older and more responsible and that is so wonderful. You've been babysitting for us and we can count on you to be a good caregiver for the other kids. Sometimes a little too good, meaning nice, because the kids take advantage of you.

This year we threw you a surprise party for your 12th birthday and just seconds after your friends jumped out and shouted, "Surprise!" you burst into tears of joy. Sorry - you get that from me. You had a great time, though, and you deserve it.

School is somewhat of a struggle. I was super anxious to send you to junior high. I didn't have a very good junior high experience so I was projecting that on you. I tried to keep it to myself, but dropping you off at school on that first day was so very sad for me. I wore sunglasses even though it wasn't sunny. I cried the whole way home. The security guard who stood out there, clapping and welcoming everyone to school was a tender mercy. Since then, Dad and I have been relieved to see how wonderful your school is at providing a positive experience for students. You have loved (most of) your classes. You got art as an elective, which we only found out later was pretty difficult. That was another tender mercy. You've taken to French quite easily. Your teachers have been kind and supportive. If I could give you one thing, it would be confidence. I wish you believed in your academic self a little more.

Hairstyling is becoming a passion of yours. Give you some free time (or even time you're supposed to be using to do homework) and you are trying new hairstyles on your American Girl dolls or me. You are creative and I love that about you. You help me to see life in a different light, and the world is often softer, kinder and more beautiful from your perspective.

This summer you took some art classes. At first you were nervous about that because they gave you paper and sharpies. No erasers! But they were teaching you to not spend your time trying to make each thing perfect, but to just work those errors into your piece. That's a good metaphor for life. If we try to make one thing absolutely perfect, we may stay in a rut, not progressing. But if we try to learn from our mistakes and then incorporate that into our lives, our end product may not be quite as we imagined, but still be beautiful. See how you teach me?

We switched ballet studios at the beginning of this year and holy cow I can't believe the improvement! You dance several hours a week and when you aren't in class, you're pointing your toes and pirouetting in the kitchen. Even sitting at the table, you're beating your feet together or around. Your muscles are getting stronger and your technique is improving drastically. Your studio does a full Nutcracker production, of which you were a part of this year. I couldn't believe how wonderful the production was. They don't cue you or anything, you just know your parts and do it. What a wonderful experience!

Your room is still a mess 90% of the time. I'm learning to pick my battles. You practice the piano without me asking. You are play nicely with Gemma and laugh at everything Donovan does. You don't complain about your braces hurting too much. You prefer taking salads for lunch. You have amazingly beautiful hair but, to your parents' chagrin, mostly just wear it in a bun. For someone who has such great hairstyling skills, this perplexes us. I suspect it's because in the morning, it's the easiest/quickest.

Last week we went to the mall to exchange a dress. As we were leaving, the parking lot was chaotic (as it is at Christmastime) and I was walking quickly, trying to get out of there as fast as possible! I glanced over my shoulder and asked if you were with me. You jogged up and held onto my hand. I can't remember the last time you held my hand. In that moment, though, it suddenly struck me - metaphorically, I often go too quickly for you. I try to go at my pace and that isn't fair to you. But you have the good sense to grab for my hand. Perhaps it's in an attempt to keep up with me, but it also has the effect of slowing me down. So thank you for being patient with me (most of the time). This mothering thing is hard. I'm trying to teach you life skills while also having a good time.

You are a sweet, precious girl and I love you so much that it hurts sometimes. When I hug you, your head now fits right under my chin. Sometimes our hugs are longer than necessary. I think we're both holding on, recognizing that sometimes hugs can communicate better than any words.

A gazillion hugs to you, then, because maybe they'll make you feel how much I love you.



laura said...

SHE IS SO BEAUTIFUL. What a sweet, fabulous girl.

Wanda said...

Laura said what I was going to say! Love that girl!

Becca said...

She is so gorgeous! I was going to comment on her instagram post today that she looked so gorgeous, but I wasn't sure if that would be encouraging selfies!

Becca said...

She is so gorgeous! I was going to comment on her instagram post today that she looked so gorgeous, but I wasn't sure if that would be encouraging selfies!