When I Grow Up

You guys. It is the last day of school. I don't even know what to do with all these crazy feels I'm having. 

The curly baby you see here just happily skipped all the way to her LAST day as a first grader. And here's what I wanted to tell her before she joyfully bounced into line with her other classmates:

I am so, so proud of you.

I'm 100% certain that I will burst open over it. In your seven years, you have lived in 6 homes, and some of them only very briefly. You have met each transition in your young life with courage and enthusiasm. You have conquered the adventures life has thrown your way, and you shine brightly with resilience, even in the hard times. Many adults would be crushed by all the changes you've had to endure, but you've persevered and thrived. 

When I've been struggling through our many changing seasons, wrestling with all the emotions they drag out of me, you've given me strength. I've watched you, admiringly. Your appreciation of beauty, your ability to turn anything into something exciting, your persistence, your determination, and your passion have all been my inspiration. I'm truly amazed at your insane ability to make friends wherever you go. You are a gatherer of people, a conductor of orchestras of fun, and the life of the party. When I'd rather hide my room, you'd rather be in the center of a crowd of people.

Last night when I was doing the dinner dishes, you came up behind me and threw your arms around me, smiling. I will hold that hug in my heart til the end of my days. It lifted me just when I was sinking. 

My love, please hear me. Your strength has scared me at times, because you are a force to be reckoned with. And I am so, so glad. Because your strength scares the darkness. The force of light you are in the world will shatter fear and injustice. I pray that as you grow into yourself and learn how to use your gifts for good, that you never turn off any of the lights inside. You are not too much. You are exactly what the world needs. 

As I've watched you, specifically this last year, I've seen a beautiful transformation. The sheer amount of knowledge you've learned astounds me. The other night you were adding in the hundreds, explained to me the life cycle of a frog, and this morning at breakfast you informed me that each corner of my coaster were actually called vertices. Well, then. I wish I'd had you around when I was struggling through geometry my sophomore year. 

But what amazed me even more is your spirit, the ways you've matured, and the character I've watched begin to develop. You've opened your eyes wide to others, seeing their struggles and responding with compassion. Even though your "hard-wiring" gives you a natural propensity to only see in black-and-white, you have begun to look at life through others' perspectives, to ponder how others feel in a situation, and try to understand them. You've made what seems to be a million friends when you knew not a soul at this school 9 months ago. You stepped into a rigid structure and immediately adapted, even though you spent your first year of schooling with your fumbling, learning-on-the-fly mother and your toddler sister. On the first day of school, you walked bravely up to something my seven-year-old self would've considered terrifying. And even on bad days, you hung in there and made the best of it. You are a wonder.

My love, you are exuberance. You are laughter. You are light. And I pray that you never lose the joy I saw in you today, skipping to school laughing with your head held high. When I grow up, I hope I can be like you.