On the cusp

Every night at bedtime, my daughter tries to break my neck.

Now, this may sound like an odd start to an annual Happy Birthday message to my middle daughter, but bear with me.

You see, when I lean over to give her a goodnight kiss at bedtime, she throws her arms around my neck and hugs—as hard as she can—while I say, “ow, ow, ow, not so hard, okay, that’s enough, I love you too“. . .

But, that’s her. She loves, and lives, with that same fierce determination every day. 

She hugs everyone. Teachers, neighbors, even kids she’s met only once before. When she sees our next-door babysitter, she will run at breakneck speed screaming “Miiiiiichaaaaaaaelaaaaa!” which gives this poor girl time to turn and open her arms to the child about to leap into them. 

She hangs on like a baby monkey.

She’s loud and wiggly, and so wound up at night, she’s often the last one to fall asleep—even after me. 


When she was young, we mistakenly took her to be a wrecking machine and total klutz because she was always falling, knocking things over, and tripping. I guess that’s what happens when you are determined to walk at nine months old. She’s so anxious to get on to the next big thing, she sometimes forgets to watch out for what’s in her way.

But, then she took ballet and we saw the flip side: Total grace and a look of weightlessness that I couldn’t achieve if I practiced for 100 years.

She is up for everything: rock climbing, soccer, dance, art, chess, track, knitting, swimming—yes! yes! yes! There aren’t enough hours, nor is there enough money, to do everything she wants to do. 

But when she doesn’t want to do something, woe to the person who has to talk her into finishing her commitment. 

I know, because that person is usually me.

Oh, little girl, you can’t wait to grow up and do more, more, more. I saw it in your eyes in Sephora as you walked around big-eyed, gazing at the makeup as if it held the key to your next step at growing up. 


I see it in your eyes as you watch the bigger girls at coop, or as you play with your older sister and her friends. 

And then, in the next minute, you’ll be with your dolls, or playing LEGO with our brother, or dragging out the dress-up clothes, giving me time to catch my breath and remember that you are still just a little girl. 

On the cusp.

So, Jilly, on your ninth birthday, forgive me if I hug you just as tightly as you hug me. I know that in about a minute, you’ll squirm out of my grasp. 

Happy Birthday, my sweet.


  1. *sniff*

  2. Anonymous says

    Awwww, my little spunky gal!! Love her to pieces. Even when it feels like I'm going to break into a million when she hugs. OOOCH. How can someone so light be so strong??!

  3. Anonymous says

    And that was Auntie Karen. I can't sign in…

  4. Maricris @ SittingAround says

    You have a lovely daughter! I think, her age now is the time when girls, wants to become a woman already but still don't want to leave our toys behind.

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