About 5:30 this morning I heard a bedroom door open…then silence…and then a pair of small, bare feet scurried down the stairs.
I was still in bed. Bill was trying to be asleep for a few more minutes before getting up and ready for work.
I heard the bare feet traipse through the main floor, and then down more stairs to the basement. A few moments later, those same bare feet hurried up both flights of stairs and headed toward our bedroom door.
The doorknob turned and a little girl crept into the room.
“Mama? There aren’t any presents!”
Somehow she has confused birthdays with the magical mornings of Christmas, Easter, and Day-After-A-Lost-Tooth. Apparently the Birthday Fairy was supposed to have stopped by while we slept.
“Julia, it’s not like Christmas. And none of us are up yet anyway.”
“But,” she said in a small voice,” Are there presents?”
“Yes,” I said.
She hugged me tightly and left the room.
And woke up her brother.
Soon we were all up, and presents were to be opened after Daddy’s shower, coffee, and breakfast.
In my rush to make Bill’s lunch quickly, I sliced my finger with a steak knife. I’m an idiot.
Anyway, finally it was gift-getting time (I’m just calling it like it is), and the first gift she opened was from Alex.
Now, I have to stop here and rewind a bit.
Julia drives Alex crazy on a daily basis. She annoys him, she teases him, she sometimes takes his stuff without asking. She tells him she loves him and is, by turns, angry, heartbroken, frustrated and hurt when he won’t say the same thing back to her. I explain that sometimes brothers don’t like to say that sort of thing, even when their friends aren’t around. But she doesn’t want to hear it. So she pesters him more. There are days when he just wishes he could take a vacation from her.
Weeks ago he took me aside and told me we needed to get Julia some presents because her birthday was coming soon. And he knew just what he wanted to get her. I told him we had plenty of time.
A couple of days ago Bill and Alex took care of the birthday shopping.
And this morning, like I started to say, Julia opened Alex’s present first.
It was a little collection of five hard, plastic puppies.
She took a look at it, put the box down, and threw herself at Alex, wrapping her arms around him and pressing her head against his chest.
“I love them!”
He patted her on the back and let a small smile dance across his freckled face. And he looked over at me and gave me a conspiratorial nod.
Julia might not quite understand it yet.
But there are many ways to say “I love you.”
Seven years has gone by so quickly.
Yeah, it’s a cliché. But we all know it’s true.
Happy Birthday, my little baby girl.
I forgive you for pretending to not exist at that first ultrasound. Because at the next one, you sort of hopped out and said “Peek-a-boo! I was just hiding!” You’ve got quite the sense of humor.
I forgive you for going a whole week and a day past your due date. Because you were worth the wait.
I forgive you for scaring me to death by having a cord around your little neck and being kind of bluish when you finally made your grand entrance. Because once you turned pink again, you were beautiful and healthy and completely fine, and I could finally relax. Again, with the sense of humor, missy.
I forgive you for not sleeping. Ever. At least, that’s how it seemed that first year or five. Because now you sleep really well. Except the morning of your birthday.
You are a smart, funny, energetic, athletic, loving, caring, silly, creative, girly, tough, phenomenal little girl.
I love you.