happy 8th birthday, elle!

i sat and watched the cursor blink for a solid minute, entirely unsure where to begin. eight!!! 

all i keep thinking is, 'my BABY is eight!!!' 

it makes me sad when i realize how long ago elle's baby-hood was. how little i seem to remember, other than the countless sleepless nights. the tears. the stress. the worry. i remember all of that so much more vividly with her- the pressure. i look back at pictures and feel a flood of memory- am i a terrible parent when i reflect and just feel an overwhelming amount of sadness? i feel like she was cheated somehow. she had all the attention for 3.5 years, but she also had a ridiculous amount of worry that i was doing it ALL WRONG. being a mom came very un-naturally to me. i keep thinking of the village that helped to raise her- our families, my coworkers- the people that just loved her and taught her when i feel like i drew blanks, or cried my way through the days. i look at her now and realize she's becoming well-balanced and kind and gentle and incredible because her soul is innately good, and because all those people that rallied behind her helped to make up for my innumerable flaws as a parent. 
she's so good. aware. intuitive. compassionate. she's completely unique in the loveliest ways. she picks up on things most kids (and adults) miss entirely. she asked me a question this week related to respecting authority that stopped me dead in my tracks- a total zinger that had me thinking of how i handle certain situations, and what messages i send that may conflict what i'm trying to teach as a parent.

her love for exploratory adventures, and clothing particulars, as well as her flair for drama and piercing whine most definitely come from me. her silliness, creativity, dancing-in-the-mirror skills, and patience most definitely come from her dad. she's managed to be an unbelievably good big sister, and that she's done all on her own. she is wise beyond her years. she's becoming my dearest little friend, and someone i can talk to when i need an honest, genuine answer (although she will stay positively neutral, and never takes a side, just for the sake of fairness). she will tolerate and take on more than she probably should- a skill i'm trying to figure out how to navigate as a mom. i want her to be resilient and patient, but i never want her to feel trapped or pressured.
i have no idea how to navigate the next 8 years, but oh, how immensely grateful i am for the last 8 i've spent as her mom.
elle matilda petersen, how we love you!!! happy 8th birthday, my sweet.

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