My darling Emmy Lou,
What a strange time to be writing this birthday letter. This past year has been full of amazing, wonderful things, yet these past two weeks have been full of uncertainty and changes.
We had planned a small party with your friends for this Saturday and upon hearing that wouldn’t happen, you burst into tears. I promised we’d do something fun when all this blows over but you wouldn’t hear it. “It’s not the same,” you said. I let you be. I let you cry because this is a lot to take in at your young age. Honestly it’s a lot for me to take in too. You grieved the changes that came. And then an amazing thing happened — you changed your perspective and knew it would be a great day regardless. Because birthdays are awesome.
You requested purple pancakes for breakfast. We opened presents and you delighted in new Barbies and books. You opened cards sent by friends and family, some you’ve never met in your life but they were happy to help make your day a bit more special. Friends and family gave drive-by birthday wishes and stopped by for quick porch visits. I shouldn’t be shocked because we have amazing friends and family, but I admit to being a bit caught off-guard by the love and generosity that’s poured in.
All that to say, you are very loved, my dear. By many, many people.
It’s your goofy antics and hilarious jokes. It’s your Emmy with an H impression, your dance moves and theatrical talent. It’s your big smile and even bigger heart.
In the last year, we’ve struggled with some things but you’ve been a trooper and have worked with us while we help you navigate the challenges of growing up. You can do hard things. Hard things sometimes take time and that doesn’t always work for you. We believe in you. We’re here to help you when you get frustrated and angry.
You are blessed with some fantastic friends and neighbors, some of whom are like family. You love them fiercely and are very, very fortunate to have them in your life.
As for your likes and dislikes…
We still can’t get you to eat a single fruit, but you’ll eat raw spinach with yellow mustard. (Jaw on floor.) You love playing Barbies and are back on a mermaid kick. You listen to Kelly Clarkson, Billie Eilish, Bishop Briggs and I recently introduced you to Sara Bareilles and you’re a fan! Woohoo, I’m doing something right. You discovered Austin & Ally on Disney+ last month and also like shows like Just Add Magic, Project MC2 and The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia. You’re still playing piano, though getting you to practice is a fight almost every time. And you have still never met a stuffed animal that you don’t immediately fall in love with. Your bed is covered in Squishmallows and Beanie Boos.
At bedtime, you read with Daddy. In the last year, you’ve read every Diary of a Wimpy Kid book and then moved on to 39 Clues. After you finish your chapter, I come in for snuggles. You hate for us to leave and still regularly ask why you have to sleep alone. Thank goodness for sleep meditations and relaxing piano music on Alexa!
I have no idea what the next few months hold, but I do know that nine is going to be a great year for you. I can feel it.
Work hard. Do your best. Stay true to who you are.
Happy Birthday, my sweet girl. Daddy, Bubba and I love you so very much.