Today you are turning 8, and I have been holding back my tears since the realization became real for me...which was around the exact moment I laid eyes on you this morning.
Your long golden hair all tangled and falling halfway down your little back, your ruby red lips slightly puffy the way they always are when you wake up, and your big brown eyes shining as you ran into my room, standing in the doorway, poised to hear me say the same thing I always say to you, every year, as soon as you wake up on your birthday:
"Good morning Lainie! Today's your happy birthday!"
And as soon as you heard it, you laughed that deep throaty laugh that you do only when you're really really excited. The laugh that reminds me so much of my own.
Jack started whining about something, and I quickly reminded him it was your happy birthday. His whining stopped, and he turned on the spot to yell "Happy Birfday Way-knee!" I love the way he says your name. You smiled your sweet older sister smile, that you get when you're in a good mood and feel like humoring him, and said "Thanks Jack." You sounded so grown up it took my breath away.
I sat up last night looking at your pictures. Looking at how you've changed and grown over the years. From the sweet, chubby cheeked little baby that looked just like my baby pictures, wrapped up in blankets in my 16 year old arms, to the playful, even chubbier cheeked toddler wearing my high heels and running around saying words like "Chopisol" for popsicle and "Miss-a-bit-nose" for Mr. Big Nose, your favorite dinosaur, to the tall, stunningly beautiful little lady who started Kindergarten with all the hope and anticipation in the world.
We've been through so much.
You've grown so much.
You are turning into such a beautiful young lady.
One day, you'll break the heart of every boy you pass in the halls.
Right now, on this day, at this moment, you are halfway to 16. You're in between a newborn and a teenager. What a strange feeling.
I was 16 when I had you. I never imagined how much you would change my life for the better.
I thought the job ahead of me, how much I had to teach you was daunting. I never realized you would teach me as much as you have.
And the truest form of unconditional love that exists in this world.
There is nothing like the love that I feel for you, Tiny.
And there is nothing more overwhelming than the pride that surgest through me when I watch you everyday. Presenting your spelling tests, always scored 100%, quietly bent over a canvas painting the most amazing things with such patience, playing with your brother and coming up with the wildest games that I wonder what that little brain of yours is like.
You amaze me, little one.
With every breath you take, with every second of every day of every year that we spend together, you simply amaze me.
You fill me with a love and a joy that brings me to my knees when I imagine you growing up, and growing away.
But for right now, your little hand still fits inside mine, and you still call me Mommy, and run to my arms when I pick you up from school.
We won't be here forever.
You won't be 8 for always.
But I'm enjoying every second of our journey together.
And I will love you til the sea jumps over the mountains and the stars fall right out of the sky.
Happy Birthday, my love.