Riley turned eleven

…and I’ve struggled with writing something about it. I’ve started half a dozen posts. How do I put my Riley into words? She’s fabulous. She’s sweet. She’s sassy. Okay, she’s not really sassy, but she dresses sassy. She wouldn’t be caught dead in the ratty old tatters her mom often wears around the house, as she “always wants to look her best,” even for bed. Even if no one will see. If an article of clothing has a stain on it, it’s dead to her. Even a tiny spot.

On her birthday we didn’t go anywhere, but she insisted on wearing a “birthday girl” pin all day, even though it was just us. That pin was from another birthday, and it was God knows where? in a box somewhere in the basement, but she knew just where it was. (Note to self…find a better hiding place for…things). I want to be more like her. Dressing to please myself, not anybody else.

playing a new Wii game she got for her birthday(playing a new Wii game she got for her birthday)

Riley has really come into her own this year. She’s so joyful. And she’s such a good and kind person. I’ve never seen her be mean to anyone, ever. She is intolerant of cruelty. Even when she used to scream, it was more an implosion rather than a lashing out at anyone else. And yes, I did say “used to” scream.  I can’t remember the last time she had a true meltdown. Can I get an “hallelujah?”

The other day, Todd walked in with some stuff from the store, and she asked, “Did you get me any birthday presents?” He set two bottles of bleach on the kitchen table and said, “Yep. I got you bleach.”

“You did?” she asked, taking him seriously, then in the next beat she smiled and said,

“I can’t believe I’m that gullible!”

They took the bleach and ran with it. All week long it was, “I can’t wait to give you your bleach on your birthday!” With him egging her on, and her laughing and playing along with the joke.

The morning of her birthday she climbed into bed with us, and snuggled up cozy under my arm. She was giddy to start her day, just bubbling over with happy. For I think the second time in her life, she said, “I love you,” to me unsolicited, then she reached for her daddy’s hand, wanting to include him in the lovie-dovie action.

Eleven years ago, Todd and I laid there on the same bed, with her between us. She was just a couple of days old, and we could do nothing but stare and marvel at her. She wore a pale green striped outfit. She had the roundest little body. Legs drawn up, used to being folded in my belly, not quite knowing they were out and could stretch all the way. How was she possible? How is she still?

How is it she comes up to my forehead already?

My baby…the one who birthed me eleven years ago…has turned a corner. We’re stepping off into a different and wonderful uncharted place. When she was three, someone I respected predicted when her peers were reaching the teen years, and their parents were starting to see the worst of it….we would be smooth sailing. Having a kid who couldn’t hop to it just because we said jump…we had to develop better ways of communicating. Parenting based on respect and not fear. Truly, we had to learn, that on a soul level there is no hierarchy. Our kids are not inferior to us or behind us on the path.

Hopefully he’s right. Hopefully we’ll just ease on down the tween-teen road. I’d like that.

So, yeah…she’s eleven.

I love this girl. I’ve always loved this girl.

May it be her best year yet.

It’s an honor being her mom.

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18 Responses to Riley turned eleven

  1. Lydia says:

    Happy birthday, Riley! Can’t even call her cute anymore, almost… but she IS beautiful… especially so in the ways that really matter.

  2. Heather says:

    Happy Birthday, Riley! Love this post. Really…love…this…post.

  3. Melly says:

    You inspire me. Riley inspires me. She gives me hope. Love to you and your beautiful family.

  4. Linda says:

    Eleven?! How is that possible. The picture of her in this post looks just like you. I’m happy Riley is so full of joy. I still remember her little, even though I see what a big girl she is. Happy Happy Birthday, Riley!

  5. Meg says:

    Riley is blossoming in such a lovely way. It has been happening bit by bit over the last year or so. The difficult days getting farther and farther apart and her sense of herself growing every day. What a joy to watch her unfold! Thanks for sharing.

  6. naomi says:

    Oh lovely Riley, Happy Birthday.
    I LOVE that picture! It is so wonderful (seriously, I’m full of wonder) to read this post and I’m so very happy for all of you.

  7. Well, Todd’s gift showed that he respected Riley.

    As you know she loves to keep her clothes clean, and she might even do some washing of them.

    And I love that line!

    Good to know Riley is so HAPPY!

  8. Chloe and Indy says:

    Happy Birthday Riley! Gosh your growing so fast!

  9. Jenny R says:

    Happy birthday to Riley. So happy for you and your family, M!

  10. amber says:

    Oh my! I don’t doubt it. I mean, really– don’t you think you have earned some ease? And Riley, too! You both should have nothing but roses.
    I just think you have put so much love into this beautiful person, and that is why you have what you have with her.

    Happy Birthday Riley!!!


  11. Wanda says:

    Hallelujah! Happy birthday, Riley. (By the way, if my clothes were dead to me because of a spot, I would be naked. Just sayin’. Maybe HT should give me some bleach for my birthday.)

  12. Amanda says:

    Happy birthday Riley!! Sorry it’s late….

    My girls are just a year and two older than Riley so, if she’s anything like them, enjoy the calm of the eye of the storm! 😀

  13. Chris V. says:

    Happy Birthday Riley…
    Honor to know you and your family….

  14. *m* says:

    A very happy birthday to your lovely and loving young lady!

  15. shannon coates says:

    You know … I can’t read ANYTHING you write without tearing up. GAWD – this is beautiful. And for a beautiful, beautiful girl.
    Happiest of birthdays (so far!), wonder-ful Riley.

  16. mom says:

    Love you all. You are all awesome.

  17. kario says:

    Happy, happy day, Riley! I love that you two are so different and yet go together so well.


  18. Kim says:

    happy birthday to Riley! Love this post about your girl. The “I love you”–the perfect day and the perfect place, right where she was 11 years ago.

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