YOU, my darling, had a year. You started lots of things; yoga, Girl Scouts, and arguments with your mama. Your personality is becoming your own and the ways that I see myself in you are exciting and terrifying. You are hanging on to your dad's ability to stay quiet when I am always tempted to get loud. You are cautious of new people, something I'm realizing is a sign of security... you don't need the world to love and affirm you- you love yourself without the rest of the world telling you to. Oh, how I long for that kind of confidence.
You worked hard this year. School is one of your favorite things and also the hardest. Reading has been a struggle and we have been working on figuring out why. You have been a trooper through it all and while I have felt discouraged and frustrated you have just kept putting one foot in front of the other and doing whatever any of us ask of you to help you succeed. Never defeated. Never giving up.
Six brought you to lots of things that were just for you... Yoga; which has been key in keeping that anxiety monster in it's place, Girl Scouts, which has made you feel strong and powerful, and lots and lots of chances to do new hard things when it come to caring for Tutu.
Most six year olds are not tasked with being part of a caregiving team but we are advanced in this family. Since you look just like I did as a kiddo Tutu feels especially connected to you, you are extra safe for her. This year we lost a lot of the spark which makes Tutu Tutu. Her beloved dog died which broke your heart in half since you have inherited our deep deep love of furry four legged babies. You have held my hand tight when she has forgotten my name or even who I am and when my eyes fill so of tears I tip my head back to stop them from falling you are quick to remind me how much you love me. You somehow, no matter how wild you've been all day, pull it together when we are with her... being sure to make everything as smooth and easy as possible.
I wish I could prepare you for what's ahead but the truth is, all we know is that it's going to get worse and we are going to have to keep showing up with love and kindness and sometimes ice cream and hang on tightly to the moments of joy. I have to remind myself sometimes of the weight you are silently carrying. There are not many little kids whose lives are so closely intertwined with a situation like ours. We all see it when we go out into the world and see how other people's grandparents are able to care for them. Games, performances, birthdays, special trips... you see your friends with their grandparents but you never complain or lament, you just love the Tutu you've been given. If she could tell you, I know Tutu would let you know how much you mean to her. Little girl, you are bringing joy and light to this hard time. I don't know how I'd do it without you, which is far too much pressure for a seven year old, yet it is what we've been handed. You are doing hard things, my little warrior. Your relationship with Tutu may look very different from the way your friends spend time with their grandparents but the love you two share is deep and real and will live on in you forever.
And you do all of it... with a smile. You are funny and silly and always ready to make a fart joke or do a crazy dance. With all the heavy that you carry you bring lots of joy and laughter into our home. This past year you GREW... a lot. You've lost your baby face and I'm still mad about it. Thankfully, you still let me hold your hand and kiss you goodbye and want me to show up in your classroom. I'm holding tight to that.
It is hard to talk about who you are without talking about MY dog. I would like to remind you that ten years ago this dog loved me best. Now she sleeps in your bed, lets you dress her up, and follows you on all your wild adventures. When your heart is anxious Dixie settles it. When dad and I don't understand, Dixie does. When the world is too hard, Dixie is a safe place to land. You are your best self with her and boy does she love her some Aubrey. When people say 'a boy and their dog' they have no idea the power of a girl and her dog. This year I finally gave in... she's yours, I only pay for the vet bills.
There are two kinds of people in the world... outside people and inside people. We, kiddo, are outside people. You live that every day. Bike rides, hiking, mountain adventures, and playing in the woods; nothing is better than being in nature and covered in dirt. You are fearless and strong and I'm amazed (and afraid) at what you can climb and what you are unafraid to discover. Stay wild, my girl, the world needs you to. Wild women get things done.
I adore you, my sweet girl. Thank you for making me a mom seven years ago. Thank you for being my best teacher, my hardest challenge, and my heart.
I love you forever...