Happy 9th Birthday to My Hurricane!

Dearest Hadley,

I can’t believe you’re nine years old today! Your birth story was forever immortalized in the Denver Post for Mother’s Day and why shouldn’t it be? You made one memorable entrance into this world and continue to leave your mark on it.

Eight was kind to you. Not only did you get baptized last summer surrounded by the people you love but you started a new charter school that you enjoy. Your bestie is Grace and two boys have had crushes on you–Ethan and Ryan (this is happening already?!)

Between a three-day camping trip to Mesa Verde, your recent one to a farm or going with your class to find worms in the creek last Wednesday, the more experiential the better in your world. You were nowhere to be found when I came to retrieve you at school last week and discovered you lost in the greenhouse tending to the plants in a state of bemused joy. This is becoming one of your passions and you have started your own soiling projects. You’re constantly barking orders at me to tend your plants while you’re in school–Water Them! Take Them Indoors! Put them under the grow lights after 2 hours!

It’s like living with your father. #HeavenHelpMe

I fret more than I should about you finding your place. While your friends’ lives are full of sports and dance, you show no interest in these traditional pursuits and prefer your schedule to remain as unfettered as possible. Your gauge of a good day is having time to create or imaginative play.  You love anything artistic and spend hours in your crafting area Grandma Johnson helped create for your eight birthday. You enjoy knitting at school, art and will learn how to sew this summer. You continue to enjoy individual sports like swimming, hiking, skiing (moguls already!) and tennis and I’m fine with that; in fact, I kinda cringe being dragged to team practices and games so I need to remember you are choosing a different path and passions.

Mud Pits, Fish Creek Provincial Park, Canada

Last fall, you made your television debut on a 9News back-to-school fashion show. You started to get sick the night prior and I stressed about finding a replacement for you but you assured me you were fine. The next morning, I went to the studio early so your dad took you and your brother. Upon arriving at the 9News parking lot you got out of the car, threw up and made a pledge with your dad not to tell me about it until after the segment (where you performed like a pro). That, my dear, is what I call leaving a mark on show business (a very large one).

You recently asked me about the truth of Santa and took the news in stride. It makes me kind of sad you’re growing up. Nine years old is half-way to adulthood and there is so much more than I want to do with you and show you. Because you’re such an independent soul, I know that once you’re given wings, you will fly far from here. You are doing your first week-long overnight camp at YMCA of the Rockies this summer and when I was lamenting that you might get homesick, you consoled me, “Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll forget about you.” Some consolation!

For my birthday, we took a mother-daughter trip to Copper Mountain. We had the most delicious berry waffles for breakfast, snowshoed around Lake Dillon and almost lost our breakfast on Frisco Adventure Park’s crazy-steep tubing hill. We also skied together and you impressed me by brazenly tackling the moguls. I love that you are not only adventurous but have a deep curiosity and appreciation to connect with nature. Just not too close. Remember when you lost your balance and slid slowly backwards into a tree in front of the Ski Patrol? Oh, and I won’t mention when we were racing down the mountain a few minutes later and you almost ran into that Emergency Phone. But, let’s face it, if you’re gonna crash, those are the safest ways to do it.

Snowshoeing in Frisco

You are wrapping up your first year of piano and violin. While I wouldn’t say you have any particular passion for them (remember faking your Christmas violin performance?), you are playing well. This year, you and your brother will each be growing your own pumpkin and you know far more than any kid should about organic gardening but you enjoy it. You were proud to have your dad come speak to your class about growing giant pumpkins but let’s both breathe a little sigh of relief he didn’t wear his crazy pumpkin hat.

I’ve never heard you utter “I’m bored” and your biggest complaint is you don’t have enough time to play wherever or whatever you’re doing. You are passionate about travel and I can always count on you to help plot our next trip. You are thrilled to be going to The Broadmoor for your ninth birthday and who wouldn’t be with horseback riding, swimming, bowling, 5-star dining and paddleboat races, not to mention some of the most luxurious accommodations in the whole world?  If your future husband is reading this, I apologize now for setting the bar very, very high. I should know, Hadley. Your father has become rather unbearable with his opulent demands. :-)

Fat Kitty remains your favorite thing in the world and I often vacillate about what occupation you’ll chose someday. Sometimes I’m sure you’ll work with animals, other days in the arts or, knowing you, you will surprise us and choose something unexpected. Whatever it is, I hope it fills you with the same joy I’ve had of learning to balance motherhood, travel and writing.

You are so different than me and I learn from you every single day. Sometimes it’s not easy being your mom and I’m sure you often think it’s not easy having me as your mom. You internalize so much that I hope, as you wage the battle of your adolescence, you realize it’s OK to put yourself out there. You have a few really good friends but are not inclined to follow the crowd if it’s not to your liking. You are strong, beautiful, a spiritual wonder and will leave a mark on this world.

Let’s just hope it’s not on anymore trees or on the 9News parking lot.

I love you,
P.S. For a stroll down memory lane, read letters for your 8th birthday, 7th, 6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd, and 2nd.

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