six years, baby girl

Sela turned six last week, and for the past month I've been catching myself just watching her in wonder as we go about our days. How did her legs get so long? When did she learn to read so well? How is her hair so long and her voice so sure and all of her so much more than just a few weeks ago? I have been present for every single day of her life; holding, feeding, dressing, teaching, scolding, comforting, apologizing, and starting over again every single day for six years. And yet, in my few short weeks of noticing, I can't believe how much I've been missing.

Sela is easy to like and even easier to love. She is smart and beautiful, funny and thoughtful, and every single letter or card she has ever written was one of love. The first thing she learned to write after her name was, " I love you. Love, Sela" and she's been writing it ever since. Even when she's mad at me or Brian, she'll tape a sign on her closed bedroom door that says, "I feel sad. Love, Sela." And for some reason, that's what makes me the most proud, but it is also the thing that worries this mama heart of mine. Her stacks upon stacks of love letters echo a tenderness, sensitivity, and thoughtfulness that are rare gifts, and as I've watched her process chronic illness, disease, death of cherished friends and family members, and all of the struggle, unfairness, and inadequate answers that life provides, I can't help but fight the urge to protect her from the heartbreak, disappointment, and betrayal that comes with having a heart open to the whole world.

But, the thing about Sela is that she's a lover and a fighter, and that makes all the difference somehow. As much as I worry about that big vulnerable heart of hers, the one that loves so much and so many so quickly, I see how hard she fights for fairness and truth and understanding.  I hear her ask the hardest questions with her loudest voice, without hesitation, shame, or embarrassment, and it makes me see how she is built to struggle and to survive. Her tenderness makes her fierce, and the world needs more people with hearts and minds that feel the weight of the injustices of the world, and who fight to understand and make things right for everybody, to make things fair. And I think Sela is one of those people, and I honestly can't wait to see where her heart takes her.

Happy Birthday, sunshine girl. I love you to the moony moon moon.


Anonymous said...

Beautifully said by a beautiful Mother for a beautiful daughter. Sela's Mother is also a lover and a fighter...I know where it comes from!
Hugs, Kisses and love,
Grandma Edie

Rachel Swan said...

Thank you so much, Edie! I love you! XO

Lacey. Kellen. Beck. said...

This is pretty great. Happy Birthday Sela!

Rick + Rebecca said...

well, for so long I haven't gone to your blog since you were not posting for a long time. I have missed them and the wise words you have for so many people. Both of you are wise beyond your years and always have been. Though Sela is is a little bit more "opinionated" then you were at her age, you still share the same "old heart" of loving and accepting people. One day, I hope to be as wise as my daughter.

Love you both, forever and forever. Keep writing, it makes me so very proud to call you my daughter.

love, mom