To my dear, sweet Blythe Kathleen,
Seven years ago when they laid you on my chest your hands were still a little purple and your eyes where a little puffy. You were so quiet there against my skin—so impossibly small and fresh. Those next few days were a blur of figuring out how to get you buckled up in your car seat without breaking your tiny arms and legs that refused to stretch out in the right directions, and figuring out how to keep your lethargic-little-self awake for feedings, and figuring out how you best liked to sleep. I don’t think I could see much past the next hour, let alone year. But if I could have, and I would have stepped out of the haze of those newborn days and moments with you and dreamed about the little girl I would want you to be at seven, I don’t know I could have pictured you to be as wonderful as you are right now.
It’s no secret I love the toddler stage. When you were two and three, I was a little sad to think of you being older. Your pudgy hands would thin out and need me less. You would stop saying “aminals” and “good job-ob”. But in those toddler days what I didn’t know was that, yes, you would stop doing some things, but you would also start doing so many more. You would read and you would understand sarcasm [an important gifting for anyone in my life ;)], and you would be able to play games and throw a ball and care for your siblings in incredible ways. I should have realized what I’ve seen to be true throughout my life: we let things go, but new things grow in their place. Our God is a God of abundance and not lack.
And so here we are at SEVEN. And while you don’t say “aminals” every time [it still sneaks in occasionally], you are still the two year old, the three year old…all the ages you’ve ever been… in this great seven year old package. And we are enjoying our time with you so much.
This year your reading just sky-rocketed. I love to listen to you read—you read with such inflections and enthusiasm. You enjoy school and adore your teacher. You’ve had so many snow days this school year [it’s been a crazy winter!], and you were always so torn, saying you wanted to be at school but you liked being home playing with your sisters too. Once again you are a great friend, and you love all your special classes. You’re especially excited about your music program this year, and you get to start piano lessons soon. I don’t know what exactly you do at recess, but I know that you do not have a single pair of jeans that do not have holes in the knees, so whatever happens I know you’re going hard. Every day you bring either a peanut butter or ham and cheese sandwich—you’re still a pretty picky eater but your love for cheese and sweets runs deep. This school year has seemed to fly by, and yet I know it was packed full with so much learning for you. I truly am amazed at how much first graders learn! You also started riding the bus this year—it was another letting go for me. It seemed way scarier to me than it was in actuality, and your new bus driver actually stopped at our house during the summer to introduce herself to you and me. She was the best! She gave everyone a treat once a week as a “thanks for being great!” She was one in a million and such a good way for both of us to ease into the bus-riding situation. And then we moved across town and you had to switch drivers. You’re the first one off…but they have forgotten to stop twice! And you handled that pretty well, all things considered. You said, “I got to ride the whole way with [your friend] Addy, and she lives way far away by the wind-wheels [windmills] and has a chicken hoop [coop]!” Everything is an adventure waiting to happen for you, and I couldn’t love that more.
Yes, we moved across town this year…and you got a new sibling! And you, dear Blythe, never—NOT ONE TIME—missed a beat. I do not say this lightly, but I truly think you were our glue through all these changes this year. My pregnancy with your brother was not an easy one, but I had you throughout the summer to help…and help you did. When Sloan arrived, you entertained sisters, or held him, or did whatever was asked of you as we transitioned to a family of six. Your enthusiasm to have a baby brother was contagious for everyone. And then just two months later we moved across town. That morning I dropped you off at Nana and Papa’s and that afternoon Nana brought you all to the new house. And that was that. You ran through the new spaces, piled high with boxes and furniture, and squealed with joy. That night you crawled in your bed and everyone followed suit and everyone slept soundly. The next few months brought a huge remodeling project, with workers in and out of our house. Not only did you act like this was per usual, but you learned their names and enjoyed watching them work. Those few months were hard for your dad and I, but you sincerely never floundered, and neither did your sisters or brother. It was another adventure for you, and each day was just as joyful as the last. You handled change better than I ever have in my entire life, and it truly helped me through that season of chaos.
And you adore Sloan. I had no doubt you would, but some mornings you crawl in his crib and hold him and sing to him and I just am overwhelmed at what a caring soul you have. And you’re so capable with him. You know just what he needs and cater to him so well. When you were just two you became a big sister, and you were kind and caring to Becks then, and I knew you’d have a special bond. Then along came Nan and, it was funny, because Nan didn’t want to give Becks the time of day but she immediately knew you were a trusted ally and calmed in your presence. Now Sloan is the same way. You just have something in your soul that babies know they can trust, I suppose.
You, Becks, and I are currently reading through the Little House on the Prairie series, and you have fallen in love with them. You and Becks slip into your Mary and Laura roles frequently throughout the day. You have bonnets and lanterns and just the other day I heard you telling her you “MUST thresh the wheat!” One Sunday you wanted to wear your bonnet to church, so of course we let you. I hope you always are passionate about the things you love, and that even if bonnets [or whatever it may be] aren’t in style, that you still wear them with abandon!
Watching you get older hasn’t all been easy though. Yesterday we were outside on one of the first truly warm days of Spring. You and Becks were so excited to run outside that you went out in your socked feet. I found you riding your bikes down the street with just socks on! I hollered at you and told you that you needed shoes, but you refused. Shortly after that, we were in the backyard and you started screaming and crying. I jumped up from my spot on the deck and walked over to you. You had stepped in a really large thistle. I could see all the tiny thorns poking through your socks. I carried you over to the deck [noting to myself that I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to do that], and pulled off one sock, then started removing the thorns. You started shaking and crying and didn’t want me to take off the other sock and insisted we wait for your dad to come home. So we did. There was one really stubborn one that we couldn’t remove, and so you’ve been walking around with a limp.
And that sums up watching you grow up—it’s you having to walk around in your sock feet and stepping on a thistle to learn why you need to wear shoes. I have to let you make mistakes. I have to watch you fall. And I can’t always get all the thorns out for you. But the beautiful thing is that when I step back and let you learn on your own, the lesson sticks. And while today it is sometimes just thistles and thorns, I know soon I’ll have to watch you make bigger mistakes. But my prayer is that you will come out on the other side, maybe limping, but knowing why shoes are important.
But I think the best example I can give of who you are at this age involves your cupcakes for your school party—two parts: First, on the day we were supposed to have your party, there was a gas leak at school. Fire alarms and panic and kids lined up on the streets obviously meant no party that day, and when I picked you up and said something to the effect of “bummer”, you just shrugged your shoulders and waved your little hand in the air and said, “Oh it’s fine.” And genuinely it was to you. You knew another day would come, and you were just glad the school wasn’t on fire. And secondly, a week or so ago when you decided you wanted cupcakes for the party, you then quickly said, “Oh! I don’t think Ryland likes frosting. He never eats the frosting. Can you leave it off of one for him?” And so I did. Your teacher told me that was the first cupcake he had eaten in its entirety that year during a class party. All because of your thoughtfulness and attention to what your friends need and like.
And that is you, Blythe, at age seven. You haven’t lost any of your baby teeth yet [!!!], but you roll with the punches and care about those around you. You love cheese, your siblings, your watch, and horses. You are funny and kind, smart and generous.
Every night when I check on you before I go to bed, I lean over your growing body, and I pray, “God, please give her eyes that see you, ears that hear you, and a heart that knows you.” Because Blythe, the thistles are waiting for you, and many are growing in your own little heart. You will need your dad and I less and less, but you will need your Savior and the light of the Word more and more. And so my deepest, most earnest prayer for you is that you will know Jesus and choose to obediently surrender your days to Him. Like I have said in all my letters to you: we hope you understand the why behind our no-s. We hope you feel safe in the boundaries we set. We hope you feel freedom in the wide open places we leave for you. We hope you see God in our actions and in our words. We hope when you leave our little home for good and go out on your own that you'll look back on this simple little life we had together-- chaos and mistakes and messes and all-- and see that it was Grace that held us together; that you see that it was God's daily bread that provided it all.
Blythe, you’re such a joy to be around, and we are so grateful you are ours to love.
Happy Birthday, Blythe Kathleen! There is nothing you will ever do that will make us stop loving you.