We just spent three weeks together in California, and I must have complained too much about your behavior because your dad believes we are oil and water right now. I'd prefer to see us as oil and vinegar - spicy, but delicious when combined correctly. Yes, sometimes I do believe we slide right off each other and bounce around listlessly, unable to combine. But, other times I can almost see inside your head to what you're thinking of doing next - in fact, your Aunt Cha Cha and I were able to predict your next actions with a fairly high rate of accuracy some days. For all that I might have been frustrated or that I might have complained, I was also really proud of you and happy to be with you. Before we left for California, someone told me that you had the nicest manners and were so polite. They told me that parents/aunts/uncles/grandparents/etc don't seem to spend enough time teaching their kids how to behave, but you were so "well-spoken." And, yes, I agree. Okay, so maybe you forget to say please as often as you might - and thank you - but overall, I think you're a pretty nice girl. Also a pretty, nice girl. The distinction is important. We can have all sorts of things in life - clothes, looks, money, friends - and we can be all sorts of things in life - kind, rich, silly, strange, funny, mean, crazy. Most of us are some of those things in combination. But, if you can be kind, if you can be thoughtful, if you can be generous and faithful - those things will mean much more than any of the rest, I think.
As I often do on your birthday, I think back to your entry to this world. I think about how I didn't know you were here yet, and how I wish I could have known. I think about holding you the first time, not on this day, but later. I think about how I missed the moment where you first blinked and looked out into a wide world that now you are exploring, making your own. Your birthdays are bittersweet, but I am so grateful for each one. For each day that I can hold you close, push back the hair from your face, look into your eyes and see myself reflected. If we are oil and water (or oil and vinegar), it is mostly because you are so very much like me. Stubborn and rash, dramatic and controlling, silly and creative, wishful and sometimes shy. We share these and more, little things maybe. Perhaps we cannot, do not, will not, share eye color or the shape of our nose. Instead, we share the little things that make up the shape of our souls.
Tonight, as you sit next to me playing with a collection of birthday toys, I can only think to say how lucky I am, how grateful I am for all that you were, all that you are, all that you will be. I am grateful for each hour, day, month, and year we spend. I am grateful for ties that go beyond blood and the rough road that winds behind and before us. I am grateful for all this. I am grateful for you.
All my love,