SEVEN? Seriously? I can’t believe I have a seven year old. Sometimes I feel like it’s been a blink, other times I can’t even remember what life was like before Hazel came along. These past 7 years, Hazel’s whole little life, has been a long and glorious journey for both of us, well, for all of us.
We had a great birthday. She said it was the best day of her life (she has a lot of best days). We had Jackson Soufflé for breakfast and bacon, of course. Then we hustled off to Charlie’s first soccer game of the season. Charlie had been telling Hazel for days that she had to come to his game because he was going to be dedicating his playing to her as one of her birthday presents. I’m sure that was ‘thrilling’ for Hazel, but she was a good sport about it. Showing off her gappy smile!
After the soccer game we opened some presents. I didn’t get a picture of these, but they were a hit. She was so excited about every single one and so cute to gush with gratitude and enthusiasm as we all gave her our gifts. She mostly got cheap little “activities” which she’s totally into. A crocheting kit from me, a needle point kit from Peter, a science experiment kit from dad, a little crafty kit from Emmeline. Probably the biggest hit was the Illustory kit from Grammie and Grandfather and the Storycubes from Charlie. This girl is super into writing and story telling right now. I have to say, I’m excited about all the gifts too. They were inexpensive, absolutely thrilling to Hazel and will keep her from whining to me about being board for quite some time (I hope!).
We ate Pot Stickers for lunch (again, at Hazel’s request, she was very into what we would eat on her big day). Then we packed everyone up and dropped of Peter and Emmeline with some friends and headed off for our big kid only birthday surprise: a Whale Watch. It’s Hazel’s odd year birthday which means she doesn’t have a friend party, just some fun with the family. We got an awesome deal on a Whale watch and Hazel has been dying to go for quite a while. They were both pleased as punch when we showed up on the wharf and announced what we were doing. And, it was just the adventure I was hoping for. The kids had a great time. It was a little cold and quite windy and pretty darn long (four hours on a rocky, cold, windy boat seems like a long long time). But we got to see Whales for crying out loud. Real whales, pretty close to us.
The ride out was quite an adventure in and of itself. The boat went so fast and we had so much wind in our faces, whipping through our hair. We all felt alive. Look at that awesome hair! This is looking down where the boat hits the water. Hazel and Charlie stood in probably the windiest place on the boat. They jumped with the waves and laughed and talked. I took this picture right after my lens cap got ripped out of my hand by the wind. That kind of wind is so invigorating. It wakes up all your senses. And the day was beautiful. 50 different shades of blue all around. Sparkling waters. Crisp fall air. Endless horizon. Rainbows in the spray. Water all around. We all just gulped it down. Once we got out to the natural whale feeding grounds (a part of Boston bay that is shallower than the rest where Whales come to feed during the summer months) we started looking for signs of humpbacks. At first we just saw little sprays in the distance. We’d follow them but once we got close the whale had disappeared to dive down deep, only to pop up and spray in another location further away. We chased them for a while, feeling a little anxious and frustrated (it was crowded and the kids couldn’t really see around all the people). At one point everyone including Jeff, but excluding me and the kids, saw a huge tail flipping up and diving back down right next to the boat. The kids were kind of sad (and Charlie pretty mad) that they couldn’t see it. I was praying that my little birthday girl would see something to make the trip great for her and sure enough, just before it was time to head back to Boston we found two whales fishing pretty darn close to us. They came up and down together almost as if they were doing a synchronized swim.
It was pretty spectacular and we had just happened to choose the side of the boat where all of us could get a really good look. I breathed a big sigh of relief as I watched my kids faces fill up with wonder. It was pretty awesome.
As we headed back to Boston harbor Hazel and I sat inside trying to warm up and I told her the story of her birth. I think since we had time and since she was interested I told her more details than I ever had before. She was captivated by the story, lighting up with the details, especially the parts where I told her how excited I was to meet her and how beautiful she was. I told her how thankful I was that Heavenly Father sent her first. I told her about how her birthday is always extra special for me because it also marks a big milestone for me since it was the day I was born too, as a mom. I think she liked this idea. She cracked up when I said something about how she probably was born so fast because her curious little soul wanted to get out of my womb and check out the world. She thought womb was a pretty funny word for the inside of my belly.
I think moments like that, inside that crowded boat cabin, with time on my hands and just my little Hazel cozied up to my side to get warm are the moments I longed for in motherhood before I had children. It felt real and present. I felt like we were in a little bubble of love, protected, connected, seeing each other. I need to strive for more moments like that. They are why I wanted to be a mom. Hazel gladly obliged to a little birthday photo shoot on the boat. The light was so beautiful as we headed back into the harbor. We got home and rushed to rescue our friends from Peter and Emmeline (we’re so glad we didn’t have to take them with us….that would have been a totally different experience!). We had some brownie/cake and candles and headed off to bed. We were tuckered out, filled with the wonderful exhaustion that only comes from after a day full of natural outdoor adventure. I love that feeling, how playing with nature fills you and empties you all at once.
As I tucked Hazel in I said my birthday prayer for her. Charlie was squawking in the background and Hazel was so tried she nearly feel asleep, but I think more than anything those birthday prayers are for me. My heart just gushes with gratitude and love for my children as I pray for them, as I think about what they need in the coming year, as I thank my Heavenly Father for all that they are and as he gives me a glimpse of who they are to become. Motherhood feels right, exactly as I dreamed it would be, when I take a minute to pray for and with my kids. I am reminded of who they are and who I am and what our relationship is. It’s humbling to remember that I’m just a steward over their little souls, and Jeff and I have been given the huge task of guiding them, nurturing them, helping them to be the strong souls that they are. And, that they are teaching me as much as I am teaching them. Especially this little lady.
Seven things I love about Hazel right now:
1. She feels life deeply. She experiences the highs and the lows deep down. And she’s not afraid.
2. She is still, hands down, the most helpful sister I could ever dream up. She is always so willing to help her siblings. I am certain she is better at mothering Emmeline than I am. And she always seems so happy to do it (well, almost always).
3. She is smart. Yes, she’s a big time reader now, and she’s a whiz at math, but most of all she’s emotionally smart. She gets how to read people and situations and knows how she needs to behave, not that she always does behave in right way, but she can recognize what it is she should be doing…and she tries her best to do it most of the time. I think that’s pretty huge. She was especially awesome on her birthday, totally looking out for everyone, making sure everyone was happy, holding it all together. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see that spark within her because a lot of times it gets a little buried.
4. She has a wicked sense of humor. I love watching movies with her, she laughs out loud and the quirkiest things. She always gets when Jeff is being sarcastic and she says pretty darn funny things.
5. She has a caring little soul. She’s always defending the underdog, especially when it’s one of her siblings and they need protection from their mean mama.
6. She is honest. Hazel has still never ever told me a lie.
7. She is forgiving, and thank goodness for that. If she wasn’t so forgiving I think our relationship might be on the road to ruin. She certainly knows when I’m not being the mom I need to be. She tells me that, I apologize and she freely forgives. Every single time. I love her for that.
I love you my little Haze. Thanks for guiding me through motherhood these past 7 years.