Monday, January 7, 2013

By years, by inches

Euharlee, Georgia
January 7, 2013
4:44 p.m.

Dear Sophia,

So now you are fourteen. As you reminded me this morning, this time next year you will be pestering Daddy and me to take you to the Department of Motor Vehicles to apply for your learner's permit. But before we plunge into the future, please give me a minute to savor the past. Your past. My past as your mother.

When you were little - oh, three and four years old - I called you boots because you wore nothing but dresses and tights and cowgirl boots. I wasn 't working outside the home so we spent so much time together. You called them our Mommy/Sophie days.

I can still see you sitting at the dining room table in the tiny house in Illinois, eating chicken soup with rice. You insisted on it nearly every day because you loved the Maurice Sendak book. When  you finished, you jumped up and raced around the house singing "hoot hoot zoo pals" and laughing until you were ready for a nap. Or, more truthfully, when I was ready for you to nap.

Back then, we spent an extraordinary amount of time in our minivan where we listened to Jan Brett's The Owl and the Pussycat, rewinding over and over when the piggy says "I will" over and over because it made you laugh. And that made me laugh.

And then when I wasn't looking because I was distracted by cleaning or gardening or running away from home or working or, ahem, blogging, you grew up and up and up until you were taller than me.

And now you're this person who asks tough questions and who makes me think about what it means to be creative and how it feels to find your place in the world. You are witty and draining and manipulative and gentle. Emotionally, you are far more demanding than your siblings. Chloe has a much larger personal bubble and Nathan is a guy. I should neither oversimplify nor compare the three of you, but there is the truth unvarnished and impossible to ignore.

The older you get, the more I go back to my memories of you as a little girl so that I can hold on while you move away to become your own person, independent and confident, intelligent, creative and beautiful.

Recently, we were working together in the kitchen.

"Remember how I used to have to stand on a chair to reach the counter?" You asked.

I remember.

Happy birthday, Sophia.




  1. Happy birthday, Sophia!

    Happy memories, Lisa!

  2. She sounds so much lik my youngest girl - best wishes to both of you in the coming year!!

    1. Thank you, Susan. I hope your family is doing well.

  3. What a beautiful girl. Just like her mama.

  4. whoa...a birthday...with good luck she still asks for the more simple things in twenty four, my daughter wants a Mini-Cooper...and when I say, 'not a chance' she reminds me that I was once Santa Claus and should still deliver miracles. Kids, what a miracle, ain't they?

    1. Yikes, Jimm. The gift requests just get more and more expensive.

  5. I wish for the lovely Sophia the best of all possible birthdays and a tiny bit of unasked for birthday advice by way of Rumi. Live like your Mother.

    “Forget safety.
    Live where you fear to live.
    Destroy your reputation.
    Be notorious.”

    1. susan, Thank you. That compliment in the form of advice makes me so very happy. xoxo. I'll be sure to tell her.

    2. Perhaps you should also mention she's got lots of time.

  6. That's so beautiful, Lisa. Your daughter is a very lucky girl.


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