Seven years ago you entered our world...all 8 pounds and 15 ounces of you. I'm feeling sentimental tonight, so bear with me when I tell you it doesn't feel like it was seven years ago.
When you were a baby, you had this habit of sticking your fingers in the mouth of anyone who was holding you. You liked to wedge those fingers so far down in our mouths, I had scratches under my tongue. I'm convinced you developed that habit because I loved to kiss your hands. So...the guilt in me wouldn't take your hand from my mouth, I just let you and so did everyone else. I can still picture seeing your Papa and your Granddad holding you with your hand stuck inside their mouth. Yep, you had us wrapped around your little finger.
When you were one, I was teaching and I couldn't bear to be without you so I would take you to school whenever I needed to go in to work. I can still picture you toddling around, banging on instruments. You went to all my school programs, and the kids passed you around.
At two I remember taking you with Mom and Allie to Jump It and seeing just how fearful you were to do certain things. That caution stays with you today. You have to talk yourself into things, as you did then and I remember the look of joy on your face when you finally had the courage to climb up to the big slide and the look of sheer terror turned to bliss as you came down that slide.
When you were three, you got locked in the bathroom at daycare. I don't think it was that huge of a deal to you, but to me it was unthinkable. I cried. I talked to your teacher (who felt awful) and the director and everyone I could think of. Mistakes happen. I remember telling you (because Granddad told me to) that the next time something scary happened, you yell and scream and then you sit down and you just pray and God will answer those prayers. Emma, you teach me so much with you complete faith and trust in God. Your prayers are completely sincere and you pray for others so readily.
At three, we also rocked your world and told you you were going to be a big sister. From the first moment on, you loved being a big sister. I'll never forget taking you to an unexpected ultrasound and hearing that it was a boy. Your reaction? "Um are you sure? Can it be a girl too?" Little did you know, sweet girl, little did you know...
When you were four, our family had a lot of change. Your daddy finished law school. I don't know if you will ever know how hard he worked or all the sacrifices he made. He drove to Indianapolis just about every day for three years. He studied like crazy. I'm not sure you understood all the celebrating, but I will always picture how hard you clapped for him walking across the stage. And I'll never forget you yelling, "My Daddy passed the bar!"
Tate joined our family a few months before you turned four. We loved watching you relish your role of big sister. From the very beginning, you were filled with patience and love and that has never changed.
When you were four, I got the opportunity to leave my teaching position to stay home with you and Tate. I felt so lucky to be able to share most of every day with my favorite people.
You also got really really sick when you were four and scared me to pieces. I'll never forget the night we didn't go to sleep because you threw up all. night. long. Come to find out, you are allergic to penicillin. I never want to see you that sick again. Got it?
Starting Kindergarten...you were much braver than I thought you might be. You made friends easily and loved your teacher. To this day, you have never once turned your card. It's going to be traumatic when you do, but only for you. One thing you will learn is that you won't always please everyone. And it's not going to be the end of the world. But right now, you love to please...and it's hard not be pleased with you. You are one of the biggest hearted people I know.
We went to Disney at five, and I'll never forget the look on your face when Meme and Granddad told you we were going. And the same look the first time you saw Cinderella's castle.
I'll never forget you playing soccer at five years old. You never took the ball from anyone. We couldn't convince you to. When we talked about it, you said, "I can't do that. It's not nice." I'm not sure you will ever be successful at soccer, because we can't convince you that it's okay to steal the ball. I'll never forget the day you played a team who didn't have all their players there, and the ones that were there were more into snacks and the playground than playing. You scored three goals...they were kind of flukes, but they were goals! You were so proud.
AND when you turned 5, you got ANOTHER little brother. That little brother adores you. He wants to see you when he wakes up...he asks for you almost immediately saying "SSSSS" for Sissy. He loves to give you huge hugs. It's hard work being a big sister to two little brothers. But there couldn't be a better girl for the job.
First grade hasn't been the easiest on you. You'd prefer to stay home with me all day, but you do like school most of the time. You are a homebody and cautious, not a risk taker. So much like your mama. You also have the most caring heart. You look for someone who needs a friend, and you are a friend to them. You can't stand to see anyone hurting. I love that about you. You adore your teacher and you have learned to love reading.
Today you turn seven. Seven years ago, I had no idea how you would change my world, change me. But change me, you have. You have taught me patience and strength. You have taught me to move a little slower, to see the little blessings all around me. You have taught me to look for the good in everyone. You have reminded me that everyone needs a friend. You have shown me what it means to pray and cry out to God. And you have taught me how to really, truly love sacrificially.
Happy birthday, sweet daughter.
Always, Your Mama