I have always loved reading to my kids. It has been one of my greatest joys of mothering – snuggling them on the couch or the bed to read them a story, and feeling like I am really connecting with them and engaging them. I have said to Justin so many times on my journey as a mother – all I have to do is sit down on the couch and start reading out loud to reign in a floundering child or to bring some quiet to the chaos. It is one of the few things that I can get all of my kids to do at the same time, and that is a feat.
I am a little nostalgic about my oldest turning nine years old recently, and it never before occurred to me until now that my journey mothering Grace is much akin to our journey together with reading.
If we are talking timeline here, Justin and I are halfway through our time with Grace under our roof. More will surely be revealed, of course, but for time’s’ sake, I think this measurement will be pretty accurate for her. For those of you who know her, I think you would agree.
Let me tell you a little bit about my girl. Grace was born in March of 2008 – 5 days early. From the moment my eyes laid on her, I was smitten. I was expecting a boy, but the words “It’s a girl!” were met with joyous tears and such pride that I had a daughter of my own. From the beginning of the first chapter in her story, we were pals, navigating this new journey of motherhood and feeling firsthand all of the perfectly cliche and life-changing things that everyone tells you about being a Mom. She was a mellow baby, and I don’t think I even realized just how mellow she was until her colicky, fussy twin brothers arrived on the scene. But that’s another story. Grace and I spent our days finding adventure, exploring our town and surrounding areas, and bonding. She was my sidekick, and I was completely hers.
When she was a child, we started off reading board books. She loved our reading time, often in the rocking chair, and she was always sure to request one last “you’re just kidding” book after our allotted stack was done for the night. (The “you’re just kidding” book being the book that followed the definitively declared “last book” of the night.) As she grew and the chapters of our life continued to unfold, we moved on to longer stories, including many favorite picture books that I now read with the boys, and then to chapter books. I remember when my twins were little and napping, and Grace and I would snuggle up on the couch with a good chapter book. It was EVERYTHING to me in those moments. Reading Stuart Little with her one afternoon, I clearly remember her asking me, in her sweet five year old voice, if I ever saw Stuart when I was living in New York post-college.
As our novel continued and our family became larger and life more complicated, snuggling on the couch together with a book kept us in close touch. We read countless chapter books aloud, and delighted in finding series after series that she enjoyed, and making weekly trips to the library to continue our quest. As she entered Kindergarten, we moved on to early readers as she began to read herself. How fun it was to experience my daughter reading to me after all those years of me reading to her. At this point in our story, I became the listener.
Fast forward to today. Grace is an old soul. She has an empathy and emotional intelligence that is far beyond her years. And the greatest part? She actually listens to her heart, and it has led both her and our family on many fruitful and soulful journeys. Grace loves sports of all kinds, enjoys riding her bike, and loves a good adventure day with her family. She is an artist, an amazing friend, and a leader in our family (which can be difficult with three younger brothers). She’s girly, and loves all things glitter, sequins, and dolls – but is equally happy playing soccer in the rain or finding “treasures” outside. She sings day and night and much in between, and tells me often that she is “happiest” when she is singing. I believe her.
Grace is also an avid reader. I mean, she devours books. Any given downtime, she’s got a book in her hand, and I mean it when I tell you that we check out 20 books at a time from the library for her alone. I love how much she loves books.
And so, with her 9th Birthday in the rearview, I realize that we are here – halfway through our novel of her childhood. Halfway. She’s come so far in the first half of our story, and has grown into such a bright, happy, and soulful young lady. I hope I have done my part to teach her the lessons that will help her soar in this second half. I may not be reading to her as much any longer, but I have taught her how to read – and I know this will be key as her story continues to unfold.
I am so grateful for the first half of our novel together.
Fly, Baby Girl. Fly. You know how to read.