My daughter turned eight today. I have told the story of her birth more times than I care to think about, perhaps best told in this very space 3 years ago on her fifth birthday. Her entrance into the world was not without the requisite drama but eventually she made it and, dang it all, she's still here eight years later. This is still my favorite picture of a minutes-old Anna, one that she will come to despise but is iconic in the my eyes.
It's hard to believe that she was ever that little, even though she was still "tall" for her age, even at birth. It's also hard to believe that her head ever gained a normal shape.
Every year she sheds some more "kid-ness" and grows up just a bit more. More and more frequently, I get a glimpse of the teenager she is bound to become. And as a result of being not only the only child, but the only grandchild with nary a cousin around to play with or compete with, I sometimes feel like her childhood has been a bit co-opted. But it is what it is, and I really wouldn't have her any other way.
We had a birthday party yesterday at Cardinal Gymnastics Academy here in Ames and then today, the grandparents came to visit and brought presents galore. One of the things that Heidi's mom brought was an old desk that Heidi used when she was a young girl, and now it sits in Anna's room. I took this picture of her working at it and I thought of my young self, sitting at my little desk doing math problems and science workbooks when the rest of the kids were probably out playing kickball.
Talk about being able to glimpse the teenager they will become.
As I have said before, being a parent has taught me the true meaning of the word sacrifice, both in terms of what you do for you kids and what you would do for your kids. I don't feel like being a parent is my entire life's work - if I had thought that, there would have been 3 or 4 more after her. But I do feel its my job to be there for her, not necessarily to shield her from life's injustices, but to provide that soft place to land when they become too much. Additionally, it's my job to help motivate her and realize her potential, knowing that the actual realization of that potential is entirely in her hands.
I love you kiddo, more than you know.
(And as always, happy birthday to Confessions on a Dance Floor - another thing that changed my life, although on a much smaller scale!)