My darling Ella,

Today you turn seven years old. Where does time go? As each year passes, I find myself asking again and again, never with an answer.

The truth is, my oldest daughter, time moves the same each day. We are all given the same snippets of hours and minutes and seconds in this grand life, but when you were born on that hot August day seven summers ago, time became more precious.

The early years were a haze of bottles and late nights and loud screams, a mixture of running water to ease your anger and long drives with ‘80s music to soothe your soul. Those days were hard and long and seemed never ending. Time was slow then, but always beautiful. Your sweet smile, the smell of your baby skin and the joy of many firsts made each day run together with the last.

Until they didn’t. And one day, I looked up and there you were; playing on your own, feeding yourself, bathing yourself, reading and solving math problems. And I wonder, in the day to day, if I soaked it in. Everyone told me to take it in and I did. But I didn’t. And I wish for just a moment, I could go back and hold your sweet tiny body in my arms and breathe in your precious newborn smell. Just for a moment. 

But now my girl, we’re in a new stage. You’re about to start first grade! We’ve replaced bottles and Sippy cups with sports drinks and lemonade; blankets and pacifiers with dresses and lip gloss; mashed sweet potatoes and peas with grilled cheese sandwiches and pizza. You’re seven. Seven! Where does time go?

This year you’ll notice new things and life will become obvious. You might see bullies; I pray that’s never you. You might get your feelings hurt, too. I’d like to wrap you in a bubble and shield you from all of life’s blows, but you’ll have to learn it for yourself along the way. I hope we can teach you right from wrong. I hope you’re listening to our words and can feel every ounce of love we share for your sweet being. Here’s what I know, there are scary things and scary people and scary events in this world, but the scary never lasts. Good does. Always choose good. I think you will.

Your heart is so kind and loving. Take that into this world, my Ella. We all need more kindness and love. I truly believe those characteristics will bring you more joy and success than you can imagine for yourself. In the years ahead, you’ll doubt and wonder if you have what it takes. You’ll question your dreams and ambitions; you’ll wonder if you will succeed. 

The answer is simple, of course. I know you will, my darling. You will succeed, you will achieve greatness and you will be a success. Because, my baby girl, you already have. You’ve fulfilled my greatest dream just by being you. You are a gift to me and to anyone who is privileged to know you along this journey. 

Seven years ago, you gave me the greatest honor and the best title of them all – mom. It doesn’t matter what I achieve in this lifetime, no job or success or goal will ever be as great as being called your mother. Nothing. Of this I am certain. You and your sister bring more joy to my life than I ever knew possible. And as time passes, I know this love will expand to depths not yet discovered. What an honor it is to be your mom, what a joy it is to watch you grow. Stay kind, learn, grow, keep your faith strong and know you are loved beyond measure. 

Happy seventh birthday sweet girl! We love you now and forever. 

Leslie Means

Leslie is the founder and owner of Her View From She is also a former news anchor, published children’s book author, weekly columnist, and has several published short stories as well. She is married to a very patient man. Together they have three fantastic kids.  When she’s not sharing too much personal information online and in the newspaper – you’ll find Leslie somewhere in Nebraska hanging out with family and friends. There’s also a 75% chance at any given time, you’ll spot her in the aisles at Target.