Nine is here. Today.
You sprinted into our room and announced in a voice that echoed as if we were in the middle of mountains, “Today is my birthday.” We sandwiched you with hugs and kissed the fleshy part your cheeks. I did not want to let you go. Hugging your fleece pajama pants, my insides pulsed with a roller-coaster moment, pausing at the ferocious pace of time’s passage.
After a few seconds, you escaped out of my embrace, hurrying toward your room. So much of nine is like that. Your need to let go pulses quick, while I crave just one more second. Over the last year, so much about curving into nine startles in a way that I failed to anticipate.
Last week, you pulled out one of your few remaining baby teeth on your own, while I worked in my office. There were no pleas for help or tears over the blood, you walked in and announced, “Here is my tooth, Momma. I pulled it out.” When I asked whether you needed anything, you replied, “I got this, Momma. Don’t worry.” I laughed-cried at your adult response. In the very next moment, though, you reminded me again, that you were still my little girl when you asked, “Do you think the tooth fairy will come tonight? She might be tired from helping Santa.”
Nine is also about you moving forward, but still holding on too. I caught you belting out the lyrics of “Shake It Off” in your room, swinging your hips, singing with expressions like you were performing on stage. I witnessed you mouthing the lyrics with so much self-confidence, then you retreated into my little girl, when you asked for me to tuck you in at night and close all the doors to make certain that the monsters don’t creep under the slits of light beneath your door.
Though, those moments when you think I can protect you from everything, are disappearing. When you witnessed a family member falling ill, you asked the question I didn’t want to answer, “Momma, is she going to die?” I paused. Then you asked, “Are you and Daddy going to die?” Answering that question meant a metaphorical letting go. One that I wasn’t prepared to confront. Instead, I told you, “Of course not, honey, we are going to always be here for you.” With that I watched your shoulders relax, your lean legs moving toward all the Legos scattered in your room. “Ok, Momma, that makes me feel better.” You sat on the floor, humming to yourself and began building your cruiser.
Nine does that it. It switches from happy to introspective to happy again.
Nine is the consummate tease. You still believe in Santa, but assert your independence when picking out the clothes you want to wear. When I least expect it, you ambush with an unanticipated hug, but in an instant, you talk back when I ask you to finish your homework. You are confident to dance alone at your Uncle’s wedding, extending your arms high and finessing the intricate steps of Indian dance, but when someone hurts your feelings, you dissolve in a puddle of tears that are sometimes inconsolable.
As your mother, nine is difficult. It is the last year before you head toward double-digits. The years of teen angst will pour before I know it.
But for now you are only nine. We will celebrate with the goodness that only girls adore: balloons, streamers, singing Happy Birthday multiple times and dancing around your cake like Elvis (who coincidentally is born on the same day as you).
Happy Birthday, my sweet and precarious little girl. Your momma is clenching her grip on nine, holding on to every glorious second.
Beautiful– your words and that photo. I love how your always one half step ahead of me with your daughter as my oldest is 8 and so much of what you describe here and in other posts is familiar to me while some is not quite where she is.
I think it is neat that I can offer you a preview of coming of attractions through my pieces about my daughter.
I love reading your writing about the passage of time and your daughter growing older. It reminds me to cherish my days with my little guys, even though sometimes I feel exhausted or frustrated with them.
It is hard to know the passage of time as you are living it, but yes, enjoy every moment with your little ones. It all does really go by so quickly.
Happy Birthday to your sweet beautiful girl ! Congratulations to you mama ! Xoxo
I love her photo 🙂
Thank you, Ayala. Appreciate the wishes. xo
Oh Rudri, your daughter is so beautiful, and I love your description of this in between age. It’s a relief to hear there are still tender little girl moments in between the adolescent glimpses, but I know the age will feel bittersweet to me. My daughter is nearing 7 and I’m kind of in shock about that.
I am enjoying every moment of her childlike wonder and hope that it still continues as she approaches double-digits. Yes, time really shocks me all the time – especially when I witness my daughter growing older.
yes, 9 is beautiful and magical! Enjoy it, every single second. Mine is almost 19, and we enjoy each other in different, yet wonderful, ways. What you do now is the foundation of what is to come!
I am enjoying 9 so far and love that she is still engaged in wonder. I am looking forward to navigating our likes and dislikes in the future. Thank you.
Happy birthday to your beautiful, sweet, sensitive girl. What a lovely photograph…captures her essence!
Yes, I love this photograph and the stage that she is celebrating. Thank you.
Ah, yes. The in-between ages. Believing in Santa, wanting to be tucked in at night, then rolling eyes, and asserting independence. You’ve captured this beautifully. And what a stunning photo of your daughter!
Thank you. So much of it is about staking independence, but also knowing when she leans back I am there to catch her fall.
What an in-between age it is. My youngest will turn nine in April and I already feel it coming. A snippy comment one minute and huge hug the next. These are tricky and beautiful years. Happy Birthday to your sweet girl. And by the way, that picture is gorgeous!
Yes, Stacey, I so relate to your characterization of nine.
Thank you for your warm wishes.
Happy birthday to your sweetie pie, Rudri. She looks so beautiful. And what an amazing outfit. xo
Thanks for the wishes, Luanne. xo
Every glorious second..
Scarlet’s half birthday is today! 5.5. I remember when having a half birthday twin was so much fun when we were kids.
Nine is very beautiful in your house.
Happy belated half-birthday to Scarlet!
Thank you for your wishes. xo
You’ve captured this age so beautifully, Rudri, those spurts of maturity punctuated with reassurances for us that they are still “only 9 (or 8 or 10 or 11…).” My son will pretend he doesn’t see us when we’re at his school but at home he will still climb on my lap or ask for my hand before falling asleep, using the same baby words he did when he was a toddler.
“I got this, Momma” – the poignancy and pride in that!
Your daughter sounds amazing. I love this photo of her too, it’s stunning. I hope she has a fabulous year 🙂
Thanks, C. I love that they can vacillate between their independence and their need for comfort. I appreciate the wishes. xo
Gorgeously written piece, my dear!
Thank you. xo
It hardly seems possible. It feels as if we have been here with you – and perhaps we have – since that first day of kindergarten!
Hugs and (belated) birthday wishes to your wonderful girl!
Thanks for the birthday wishes, Wolf. It all moves so fast that I can hardly catch my breath.
I love this photo! She looks so happy and radiating with positive energy. Hope she had a wonderful birthday Rudri!! Enjoy these moments and take care -Iva
That picture! She is captivating.
“The years of teen angst will pour before I know it.” I try to keep this mind when my little children are being difficult. Their difficult moments are really so mild and the sweetness is so much more common, and knowing that it’s all so fleeting helps me maintain perspective.
So, so gorgeous! Happy, happy (belated) birthday to the sweet girl and her wonderful mama!