My adventurous, determined, tenacious, kind-hearted girl. There is never a dull moment with you. Sadness cannot hang around when you are near. You live every second of your life determined to get absolutely everything you can out of it.
I love the way you face challenges head on, never flinching, never backing down, never afraid to call for reinforcements. You give everything your all, no matter how hard it is.
I love the way you not only tell us all how much you love us, but constantly and consistently show it with your actions. You are intentional about so many of the things you do, and almost all of it comes from a place of love, kindness, and compassion.
Eight was the year you learned you had dyslexia and I watched the weight that had been building up on your shoulders slip away and the light return to your eyes. The moment your mission had a name and a map, you were ready to take it on.
Eight was the year you learned how to roll with every possible punch being thrown your way. Second grade cut short by a pandemic. Virtual learning. Online dyslexia tutoring. Months and months with only your siblings to play and interact with (a difficult blow to a social soul like yours). A mom who was ill and exhausted and short on coping skills for over a year. The cancellation of all sports and activities. Many, many COVID tests and quarantines.
Eight was the year you got stabbed in the thigh by a rusty nail at school and had to spend ten days on antibiotics after infection set in. You never complained even once.
Eight was the year you bridged from Brownie Scout to Junior, with class and style.
Eight was the year you walked out onto the revolving glass floor of the Space Needle and looked straight down without a drop of fear.
Eight was the year you really learned to read. I don’t think you truly believe it yet. You still doubt yourself but, my darling, you can read. You can and you will and I hope it brings you all the joy you’ve been waiting for. I hope you discover amazing worlds that take your already boundless imagination to places you never dreamed of.
Eleanor, I can say with absolute certainty that I have never been prouder of you than I have been this past year. You cope with life with extraordinary grace. You inspire me to try as hard to achieve my goals as you do yours. You set a constant example for me of what unconditional love should look like. I hope that nine brings you every joy, every freedom possible. If anyone deserves it, you do. But I know that even if life continues to be rocky and unpredictable – as it is wont to do – you will still flourish. Yours is the unique kind of soul that can triumph under adversity.
Somehow, alongside all these very grown-up characteristics, you also remain innocently childlike. You laugh readily. You are goofy and silly and imaginative and creative. Always up for a game. Always eager for a snuggle, a hug, a kiss.
I am so proud, so humbled, so thankful to be your mom. I love you, Eleanor. Happy Birthday.