I have left my HP post until the last minute because all but this last minute have been full. My tiny girl turned 7 yesterday. I am tired, but not the same tired I felt the first few birthdays. Those early ones – 2 and 3, they were tough. I did not want the year marker to turn, did not want to have to answer the question “How old is she?” with the next number and suffer the pauses, the stifled surprise, the follow up questions related to her not talking, not walking, etcetera. We all focused on what might be amiss, behind, lacking. Those early birthdays were deflating. We had not had her diagnosis yet, so I believe I held on to a delusional hope that each number, whether counting in months or years, could flip the switch that caught her up developmentally. Each of those birthday mornings I’d wish my girl happiness and get smacked with immediate confirmation that no, this would not be the magic birthday for her, this would not be the year that things would suddenly snap to for my baby girl. And so, after one birthday wish in the early morning, I trudged through the birthday “celebration” wearily.
She is 7 now and things have snapped to (slowly, if things can snap slowly). For her mother. We understand her diagnosis now, but more importantly, we understand Addie herself. She patiently teaches us our roles, helps us pluck out what is important and shed what is not. She has trounced so many expectations large and small that we have replaced delusional wishes for magic with active belief in possibilities, with practical and productive hope. We work towards ensuring she has options and then we just sit back and watch, expecting to see her make something cool happen. She delivers incessantly.
But I am still exhausted. This time it is the result of nothing more than this being a kid’s birthday – all about her, not at all about me and what I can “handle” about this new age she turned. She’s 7! This past weekend she had cake at our block party, a small family party Sunday, she’ll have her friends over for a pool party on Friday and then she’ll have the big family party that combines her own and her sister’s birthday next Saturday. Planning and executing a virtual birthday festival for my first grader has left me fuzzy and drooping...and also energized by the commonplace simplicity of that fact.
All is as it should be.
More on this big 7 year old at: