Shortly after beginning this blog we celebrated your first birthday and I wrote you a letter to mark the occasion. I have done the same every year since that first birthday.
Life has been very different for our family in the last few months as Dad and I are now both working full time. Some things have had to change and, unfortunately, one of those things has been the amount of time I've spent writing here. Your birthday passed six weeks ago but I still want to write to you. One thing I'm really learning this year is that just because I can't do something perfectly doesn't mean that I shouldn't do it at all. Since it is New Year's Eve and you will turn NINE in 2013, I figured I'd better get to it.
You are eight.
I know hearing your age isn't nearly as jarring for you as it is for me. Still, eight is a pretty remarkable number, don't you think? At Christmas Eve dinner this year it occurred to me that it was the ninth year we'd celebrated Christmas with you and got all choked up because the time has gone so unbelievably fast.
You've had a bunch of new adventures this year - dancing in your first big recital, attending bowling and basketball camps, playing with the big kids (fifth graders!) in after school daycare, and trying tennis. Your world is getting bigger and bigger, as is your attitude. In many ways you've always seemed older than your age, but this year, especially in the last few months, it has become clear to me that you are on the verge of a whole bunch of big kid stuff. The questions you ask, the way you speak, the eye-rolling (already?), all of it gives glimpses into this new phase we seem to be entering.
When I was a summer camp counselor eight-year-olds were some of my favorite campers. Yes you have one toe in that big-kid world, but you still buy into a whole slew of wonderful, magical, little kid stuff too. You like to play pretend, be read to, and you were all in on the Santa Claus thing for another blissful Christmas. You aren't too embarrassed to be with your parents, and better yet, you still love spending time with your dad and me.
You have pushed your boundaries this year, at home and at school, and I don't think you have the fear of "getting in trouble" that I carried with me during my childhood. This is mostly a good thing, as you really aren't afraid to take your place in the world, though I occasionally wish you were just a little more concerned about following the rules. You are more likely to evaluate the rules and follow the ones you feel should apply to you...
Of course I'm really proud of so many of the things you've done. Back in the spring you worked really hard to write a story and make book as an end of the year gift to your first grade teacher. When she sent you a thank you she promised to come to a signing when you are a published author. You are developing your own tastes and interests, independent of things your father and I have tried to introduce you to and you love to read (especially graphic novels and mysteries), write, and cried your first happy tears when you received a desk for your birthday. You've also become a big music fan this year - Taylor Swift is your favorite - and you got a guitar for Christmas and can't wait to learn how to play and write your own songs.
There are moments when I look at you or listen to you and my breath is completely taken away. I cannot believe the little baby I spent all those winter mornings snuggling with and reading to has become this big, beautiful child. I continue to learn and grow as you learn and grow. Being your mother is the biggest challenge and honor of my life. I love you, Harper, and I can't wait to see what the next year will bring.