The Day My Life Changed Forever

Dear Ana,

Today you turn eleven years old. This birthday feels like a huge milestone for me, as your birthdays have every year before and will every year to come. Each year, your birthday makes my heart grow (like the Grinch), in ways I never could have imagined it would. As you celebrate your birthday, I also celebrate the wonderful daughter you are and the amazing person you have become over the last eleven years.

I thought I might try to capture you as you are in this moment so that no matter what happens in the future, you'll always have something to read to remember how much I love and admire you and hold out every hope for you. How proud I am to be your mother. How blessed I feel every time I look at you.

Things I love about you:

  • The way you're not a morning person and you still have a gorgeous little half smile for me when I come to wake you up.

  • Your amazing sense of humor and the fact that you use it to diffuse tense situations, like, hypothetically speaking, when I threaten to go nuts over some small thing.

  • The way you love things so fully, with all of your heart. (Thomas is a lucky, lucky kitty.)

  • That serious, intent, assessing gaze of yours.

  • That your first instinct is always of kindness, even with your little sister. (But, Ana? It's okay to give IN to that first instinct occasionally with regard to Jane. No points will be deducted. know... sayin'.)

  • That you are the most ticklish person I've ever known.

  • Your amazing brain. You haven't been challenged at school this year --a fact your father and I have lost sleep over --but still you show me all the time how big that brain of yours is. I like watching you memorize things faster than I can even read them. I love that you read the four Twilight books in four days. I can't wait until you stop phoning it in at school and we get to see what that engine can really do.

  • Your long hands and fingers and the way you play piano.

  • That you are incapable of hurrying but insist that you are going as fast as you can. (I can't help it. I makes me laugh. And exasperates me to no end. But mostly, it makes me laugh.)

  • The way you keep a little candy stash in your nightstand, just in case of emergencies. (You show remarkable restraint regarding it, so just forget that I know about it. So will I.)

  • Your laughing eyes.

  • Your sense of style and how it's not dependent on what anyone else is wearing.

  • The fact that you quote my book to me all the time. I know, I know...I feel a little sheepish mentioning it. But it's such a gift to me that you read what I write and you internalize it. It helps me to think that you understand the intent behind my imperfect parenting.

  • The fact that you still ask me to read to you, occasionally.

  • That when you love something, you want to collect it and take it to your room and make it a little house. (Okay, I love this trait of yours for what it says about you but we are going to have to figure out a way to contain your collections because your room is FULL. FULL, I say.)

  • That you are happy in your own skin --enough to be silly, enough to poke gentle fun at yourself, enough to stand by what you want and believe, regardless of outside pressure.

I don't know, it's hard to sum up a person in a few words. Since the very beginning, you have been the calmest, most serene and innately wise person I've ever met. And right now, with you so poised on the runway of young adulthood--so beautiful, smart, kind and strong --my heart does a funny little jump whenever I see you.

Happy Birthday, my love. Thank you for being my daughter.


Unknown said…
she sounds like a very cool kid.
STQ said…
Awwww, I got tears in my eyes and I don't even KNOW Ana!! :)
Aw, darn it. Now I'm going to have to write my kid a letter on her 14th. It won't be as good as yours. Happy 11th to Ana.
hokgardner said…
What a lovely gift to your daughter.

Happy Birthday!
Barb Matijevich said…
Thank you for all your "Happy Birthdays!" I cannot believe I am now 11. Mom, I do know that Thomas is a lucky kitty 'cause he reminds me constantly. "WANT!WAAAAAANNNT" I love my birthday letter.
:) --Ana
MadMad said…
Awww. Great post! And she is gorgeous, like her mama!
Anonymous said…
She is blessed to have you for a Mom and vice versa. Loved her cat shirt.
Anonymous said…
Happy Birthday, Ana! Sweetness and beauty all rolled up into one great kid. Who's luckier, you or your mom?
Mary Ellen said…
What a beautiful post for a beautiful girl! You're both lucky. Happy Birthday, Ana!
Annabanana said…
HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANA!!! 11 years old - how amazing! You picked such wonderful parents!
Ann in NJ said…
Very sweet. My daughter is also 11 (and a character). We should get them together some time!
Unknown said…
i woke up thinking, Isn't it orthotic day for Barb???
Katie said…
Happy Belated Birthday Ana! Your parents are lucky to have such a cleaver, beautiful girl like you! Your little comment to your mom made me cry!

May you have an amazing year!
Miri said…
Ana, I like your style! Barb, what a sensational daughter you have there! Happy birthday. (I wish I could bake you a cake!)
That was amazing, I hope one day I can say that about my daughter (don't have one yet, waiting lol).. she seems like a great kid.

What a wonderful post and a dear little girl!