This week, my daughter will turn nine years old. Gretchen Rubin, the author of “The Happiness Project,” summarized it nicely: “The days are long, but the years are short.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
I can so clearly remember being pregnant with my daughter, her delivery, those first hazy, emotional days. I cannot believe how all of a sudden nine years has passed, and that tiny baby has become her own individual, a human being with growing thoughts, emotions, opinions. How that tiny baby has a growing body, now with long, dark black hair, expressive brown eyes, and a laugh that can light up my entire world. I feel blessed that we have managed to keep her safe and healthy, in what often feels like an unsafe, uncertain world. I feel blessed that between us and our son, she knows she is deeply, deeply loved and respected.
Every year, when my children’s birthdays roll around, I think of writing them a letter. Some years I have jotted thoughts down in a journal, and some years have passed by without any letters at all. It is my need to mark the occasion. Another year has passed. Another year to come.
Marking transitions in our lives is important. These turning points, whether a reminder that we are turning one year older, or an important accomplishment or anniversary, become special, memorable moments. Days that separate out from the routine passing of time, days that are somehow a little more meaningful and important than the other ordinary days of our lives.
Perhaps my children’s birthdays also remind me that my clock ticks on too. I want to freeze my specific memories of them in time, for my sake and theirs. I want them to one day see themselves through my perspective, her nine year old self through my thirty-eight year old eyes.
On my daughter’s ninth birthday, I don’t have any spectacular words of wisdom, but just true, honest emotion.
To her, I say this: I love you more than I love myself, more than I knew I could love another human being. But not just that. I also genuinely respect and admire the person you are becoming. I especially admire the pure, unselfish nature of your generosity, which manifests in your never ending fairness and selflessness. I love that you will always put your brother’s interest ahead of your own. I love that you dote on all plants and animals with equal respect and affection as you do for the humans in your life. I love that you have a voracious appetite for reading and learning. I love that you still are so excited to spend time with us, that you unabashedly hug and kiss us in public with full abandon and surrender. I love how honest and transparent you are with your thoughts and emotions. I love how you embrace your weirdness. This is how I see you at nine years old. Without trying to limit you, this is how I define your beauty. All I can say is hold onto these beautiful qualities for dear life, for they are rare and special, and they are what make you so uniquely you. Maybe as time goes on, life will try to add layers and defenses to this soulful spirit of yours, but try not to protect yourself too much. Otherwise, your life will be spent trying to strip away those very defenses to get back to exactly who and what you are today. As your mother, I care most about you staying true to these sacred qualities that are the very fabric of who you are…more than I will ever care about your grades, occupation, income, appearance, or social status. So carry on with your purposeful, happy, wholehearted life, just as you are.
Today, on this particular Mindful Monday, I feel especially aware of the children in our lives, and the many ways in which they model and teach us mindful, peaceful, conscious living. In the week ahead, I invite you to join me in learning from these kids, as best we can, how to keep coming back to our true selves.
With gratitude, Monisha