To Ainsley on her 11th birthday
Last updated 12/23/2019 at 3:56pm | View PDF
I love traditions — especially at this time of year — and one of my favorites has been penning my annual birthday letter to Ainsley.
I wrote my first in December 2011, just before she turned 3, and have continued every year since. Ainsley still seems to like seeing her name in the paper and readers still tell me they enjoy hearing about her. (I realize both of these may change at any moment!)
So, today, I offer the 2019 installment.
In exactly one week you will be 11 years old. At the rate you’re growing, you might be as tall as me by then. I can’t believe either is true.
I look back at the birthday letters I’ve written previous years and start to feel nostalgic at the loss of my little girl. You have gone from bursting into song in the middle of our kitchen to singing solos in the church Christmas pageant. (OK, you still burst into song in the middle of the kitchen.) You’ve progressed from “reading” (reciting by memory) picture books to devouring the “Keeper of the Lost Cities” series, with the sixth book coming in at 794 pages. Your Christmas wish list has evolved from a giant stuffed teddy bear to an iPod touch and crop tops. Gulp.
But I wouldn’t trade the experience of watching you grow up — which has been amazing and entertaining — for anything. I’ve enjoyed watching your wonderful sense of humor develop. Over the past year you’ve also developed a greater sense of awareness — both of yourself and those around you. I’m so impressed with your ability to see things as they really are.
I used to believe a person would have one great love of their life and that I was lucky enough to have found that person in your dad. (Sorry to be cringey.)
Then we had you. I loved you right away, of course, and still remember crying when the nurse handed you to me in the delivery room.
I have to confess, though, that the emotion I felt most often for a long time after your birth was fear. Fear that your head would be misshapen because I wasn’t giving you enough tummy time, fear that your legs were uneven and, most of all, that the holes in your heart would not heal on their own.
We are blessed that everything worked out. Your head has a lovely shape, your heart healed perfectly without any medical assistance and your legs, well, that quarter inch just isn’t that big of a deal — especially now that you’re 5 feet, 6 inches tall.
Other worries arose, of course, but with each passing year I grew more and more confident that despite the parenting mistakes I was bound to make, you were going to turn out just fine.
You’ve turned out better than fine. You are a talented, perceptive, fun-loving kid with a good sense of humor and a big heart. And with every year that passes, my love for you grows.
True love, I now understand, is too big to have just one recipient. Your dad will always be the love of my life. But you are the love of my life, too, Ainsley, and have enriched it in ways that I never would have understood before I became your mom.
I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for you — and am thrilled to be along for the ride.
— Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected]