(Eight years old feels like the right time to start telling you all the things. And by the time you’re reading this, you’re celebrating year 18-with 10 letters, written each birthday starting today.)
((It’s good to know where we’ve come from. There’s great value in being able to track the person you’ve been all along. But also, it’s never ever going to be too late to redefine yourself.
And so, little love, let me tell you who you are at eight. And then I’ll tell you who I am while raising your eight-year-old self. And by the time you’re reading these letters, I’m certain we’ll be different people almost entirely. But also, much of the same.))
At eight, you’re the sweetest soul I’ve known in this lifetime. You’re aware of the things happening around you-most especially, the people. You’re inclusive in a way that challenges me. You ask good questions and you’re easy to please. And while you are too young to put words to what you’re doing, you’re forever extending grace upon grace.
The loves of your life are this family of ours. You not only tell us, but you show us. Your sister makes you laugh the loudest-and you’re all too happy to do whatever your brother tells you to do. You like to help around the house-especially cooking in the kitchen. You’re serious about your chore chart (which was ALL your idea) and even more serious about the allowance.
You love running around outside-playing pretend-with some of the dearest friends, Blessings, Kahale, Faith, + Mary. The five of you are found digging in dirt, cooking actual food over actual fires, and imagining yourselves as mamas + doctors + teachers until the sun sets every.single.day.
You love school + taking tests + riding your bike home with friends each day. Your favorite sports are soccer + lacrosse, your favorite food is strawberries, and your favorite color is ‘all of them!’ You love a good sing along-and you’re not afraid to show off some serious dance moves. You still hold my hand when we go for walks and you still want to cuddle on the couch. If this isn’t the case forever, I’m just so glad it’s the case right now.
Nearly every day as I hug and kiss you out the door, I remind you, I just want you to be brave and kind-and don’t forget to pay attention to who’s being left out. That’s basically it. Working hard and being respectful count for something-but my top two are brave + kind.
I want you to know that people are more similar than not. That poverty is multidimensional. That Philadelphia fans are the greatest in the world. And that you are enormously privileged-and you have a responsibility to do something with it.
There’s a lot you don’t know about this world. At both eight when I’m writing this-but also at 18 when you’re reading it. I only know this to be true, because at 32, there’s still so much I don’t know as well. My current mantra is ‘when you know better, you do better.’ I hope you find yourself wrestling with the ways of the world-seeking out opinions that are different from your own-and allowing your heart to break for people and places that deserve your time and attention.
On the days I believe that Jesus is who He says He is, I believe it in the depths of who I am. I want you to know and live in that truth, too. But your dad and I are big believers that we can’t push people to Jesus-we can’t pull them there-we just have to point them in the direction of Christ. And so at year eight, I’ll continue sharing about the goodness of God in an effort to point your little heart there, too. But the choice will forever be yours. I just hope our example is a good one-and that when it’s not, we’re able to say so. And then do better next time.
You told me the other day that you hope to be just like me when you grow up. Dear girl, I hope to be just like you, too. It’s the privilege of this lifetime to be your mama and these last eight years have been an absolute dream come true with you by our side.
Love you dream girl,