To Charlotte, on Your 8th Birthday

"I'm EIGHT!"
Oh, sweet Charlotte. Today you are 8 years old. We could not love you more.

You are no longer "little girl" but now full-blown GIRL. Wacky and goofy and giggly and snarky and joyful and smart and flawed and perfect.

You are old enough now that I check myself as to what I share about you in your birthday letter. You're old enough now for . . . privacy.

But I can share this: Your innate Charlotte-ness is optimistic and joyful. You're always game for a good time, a little social butterfly chattering away with friends. You're easily distracted by anything and everything--because, I suspect, everything is just so awesome!

You adore ballet, you persist in playing violin, you wholeheartedly love basketball. Art is your favorite time-filler and any spare moment involves you creating something from recycling bin stuff, treasures you find outside, markers, SO MUCH TAPE, and whatever random scraps you find around the house.

As you grow, the pressure on us grows to shape your character in ways that set you up to be successful, yes, but also empathetic, wise, and strong. I will be honest: This intimidates me. You are too precious to screw up.

I love your corny jokes (seriously, you get that from Daddy), your knack for wacky accents, the way your large chocolate eyes sparkle. I love your dance moves, your kindness to friends, your creativity. I love how you love Lorelei, how you teach her and humor her and delight in her. You are the best big sister, ever. Even when I yell at you girls for bickering. (Sorry.)

This morning I used a line on you that Nana would say to me: "Charlotte, you just can't know how much I love you. You can't know until you have babies of your own. And then you're gonna look at your kid and go: OH." You laughed and blew me off, which was exactly the age-appropriate thing for you to do. But darling girl, you just can't know how much we love you.

Happy birthday, Charlotte Marie. We love you so much it hurts. (And no, you can't have a phone for your birthday.)


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