It wasn't supposed to be like this. You were supposed to have balloons, and a special dinner at the table as a family, and a cake with candles, not just a cupcake that you made yourself with a single candle in it. Your presents were supposed to be wrapped with fun paper, not handed to you as though we were bartering treats for good behavior. I wasn't supposed to be sick.
I felt guilty. I feel guilty. So that is why, even though I was cold and hot and achy and my nose ran a river to the tissues that were ever-present, we went to get your ears done. You were so brave, and I am so proud of you, even when the woman had to do the second ear twice since the earring didn't go through the first time. I would have had a panic attack or passed out (and nearly did because MY BABY!), but you sat there like it was nothing, worried more about bleeding than anything else, and no you weren't bleeding. I didn't see a single drop of blood from the whole thing.
You are starting into the strife years, where you learn a lot about life and how hard it can be, and where you start to establish your own identity, your own person. I'll be right there learning with you, because although I've been where you are before, I've never been here before, watching my daughter learn firsthand about pain and heartbreak. Not everyone is going to embrace your quirks quite like your father and I do. But there is joy, as well. You are learning what an amazing thing it is to find something that you do that you love, that comes to you easily and even though you have to practice you don't mind because it's that wonderful, it isn't work. Remember to be true to yourself and the things that you love, even in the face of others who try to tell you not to love it, that you aren't as wonderful if you love it. It doesn't matter what they think, it only matters what you think. Somewhere, there is someone who loves it, too, and will embrace you for it. You always have a place here, friends here, in your family, when it seems like you won't find those others.
When I was putting you to bed last night, I apologized that your birthday wasn't something bigger, something more special, and you said to me, "Any kind of birthday that you do is good for me, Mom. It doesn't matter," and your smile went all the way to your eyes as you hugged me. Yet another example of the kindness you show to everyone, the thing I love the most in you.
Happy ninth birthday, my big baby girl. Thanks for making me a mother. I am proud every day to be your mother.