Last week my daughter turned 7 and my head hasn't stopped spinning from it. Where did the time go?! I still picture her in my mind as this little baby toddling around but then see this strong, smart, funny, beautiful little kid! I love who she is and am so excited about the person she will become. But as I was watching her in her first week of seven, I couldn't help but worry, "will she always be this happy, this free, this open?" I know that the answer is out of my control but I will work my hardest to make sure she is. So to my daughter, on your 7th birthday, here are 7 things I love about you that I hope you don't lose.
1. Always know you are loved.
You know this now, you fully, 100 percent believe this, and it makes me so happy. You are the first to remind us all that we are a family and that families stick together, that we have to always love each other the hardest and the most. You remind your big brother of that even when you are arguing. There is no doubt of our love for you in your heart and mind right now and I hope you never, ever lose that. You are always loved and accepted exactly as you are and nothing will ever change that.
2. Keep singing and dancing with abandon.
Man, do you love to sing! The sound of your voice fills the air, singing songs from musicals, from school songs, from our girls mix. And it is music to my ears. You aren't singing for anyone else and you don't care who hears you, you just do it. That is so, so beautiful. At some point in my life, I was told I couldn't sing and I took that belief on. I would still do it but quietly, unless the music around me was so loud that no one could hear me. Don't ever let anyone tell you can't sing, or if they do, ignore them. You sing from your soul and that is exactly what the world needs more of. And while you're singing, keep right on dancing! All across the floor, throwing a cartwheel or two in the mix. I hope I will be right there with you, dancing and singing right along.
3. Be adventurous, brave and bold.
You amaze me with your ability and desire to do new things. You feel the fear and then do it anyway. I love that about you. You go right out on stage and sing your little heart out, or jump into the boat with us and go white water rafting. Whatever the adventure, you are up for it. That is the way to live a full life, my dear. By pushing yourself to do the thing that challenges you, to feel the fear and do it anyway. Stay brave and keep looking for adventures. They will sustain you and fill your soul.
4. Always have a pet.
When you first started crawling, the thing that you would crawl after the most was our dog. You would crawl right over into her bed and lay on top of her. You still lay on top of her and she still lets you, both of you loving each other unconditionally. That is the kind of love you get from a pet! I got my first dog when I was five and have spent most of my life since with a dog or a pet. It is heartbreaking when they leave you but the experience of having them is so worth it. I know that you will always have pets, your heart is just too big not to. And don't worry, I will be happy to dog-sit for you when you go off on your adventures ;)
5. Keep complimenting yourself.
One night recently when I was putting you to bed, I noticed a piece of paper with some of your drawings on it. But next to the drawings were phrases such as "I like how you painted the giraffe" or "the colors you used were pretty". I asked you who wrote those and you said that you did. You said that you wanted to give yourself compliments about your work. Wow. What a simple but wonderful thing to do. Compliment yourself. Find what you like about your work and tell yourself. It was something you and your classmates were doing at school, finding ways to give positive feedback to your peers, but you brought it home and made it your own. As adults, we get too hard, too critical on ourselves. I couldn't remember the last time I complimented my work. I learned from you that night and decided then and there that I would start finding at least two compliments I could give myself about my work. I hope we keep reminding each other to be kind to ourselves first and foremost.
6. Love your soul sisters.
In the car the other day you told me about a friend at school calling you her soul sister and asked me if I knew what that was. I told you that I did and asked you if you could name some of my soul sisters which you proceeded to do. I cherish my girlfriends and try to make time to spend with them as often as I can. I love that you have soul sisters already and that you recognize the importance of those relationships. Your sisters will be there for you and love you if you do the same. Love them hard and make sure to always value that sisterhood. We are stronger together and can learn so much from each other. Maybe one day we will even go on a girl's trip together, with your friends and mine! I can't wait.
7. Stay open and loving.
You are open and so loving right now. You give great big hugs and freely say how much you love us. The world won't always be kind or easy but don't let it take your love away. By looking for the love, staying open to possibility, being bold and brave and adventurous, singing and dancing with arms wide open, you will make this world a brighter, more beautiful place. You already have and I hope that you always know that. We can do big things and we can be forces of light. Stay true to you and always know I am right by your side, supporting and loving you.