Dear Emily June,
Seven. I remember being seven. My best friend when I was seven is still one of my best friends. Seven is kind of a big deal.
I asked you last night while we ate your birthday dinner (pizza from I Love NY Pizza) what you would tell someone if they were turning six. Your advice for all those about to be six “You’re gonna have a great time. You will love school!” You are a happy girl. You’re emotional and dramatic like your mother but for the most part you are joyous.
I worried when you were little. I was not in the best place in my head and heart and you were a screamy baby. I worried that your screaminess was my fault. You and I were always together and I feared you would absorb my sensitive nature and my general state of unhappiness.
Your screamy days passed as the winter turned to spring but you were still so very serious. You were kind of an intense little person. I took a series of headshots of you once in an effort to get a picture of your elusive smile. Someday you will appreciate how much they resembled Nick Nolte’s famous mug shot.
It didn’t take long before your seriousness faded. Once you could walk (at a precocious ten months) you started to dance. And once you could dance you never stopped. You were in constant motion. Your teeny little bird frame became a toddler’s body and your smile was overwhelming.
You became a tiny little lady, my sidekick, my playmate. The time between your first and third birthdays was hard for me. You gave me strength. And so very many laughs.
And now you are seven. Seven going on seventeen, they say. But like so many trite sayings I fear it may be true. I tried to get your picture yesterday morning. You were smiling at me and then assumed the position of “fed up pre-teen” as soon as I pointed the camera your way.
I had hoped to say something clever to you on your birthday. True to form I had no plan as I ran up the stairs to your bedroom yesterday morning. Something would come to me.
I opened your bedroom door expecting to see you getting dressed. Your light was already on. You were crouched on the floor by your Legos. “Whatcha doing?” I asked you.
I knelt down next to you and took you in my arms. And the tears came. “Just playing, huh? Happy birthday, baby girl. You can be my baby for one more year, right?”
Ever indulgent, you hugged me tight. “When I am not a baby anymore, Mom, Lucy will still be your baby.”
I didn’t answer you. I do my level best not to pick fights with you in the morning before school. But make no mistake, kiddo. You will always, always be my baby girl.
Happy birthday, sweetheart. Keep smiling.