Earlier this year, Rachel described numbers as even and awkward. My mom and I laughed and laughed about this — and were impressed with her vocabulary as a kindergartner to know “awkward” and “odd” are synonyms.
Well, now, here we are at 7 years old! I’d say it’s awkward, but it’s not really. Yes, 7 sounds older because, well, I suppose it is. But I love where my girl is. She is doing well in first grade, enjoys playing soccer, plays with Gabby’s Dollhouse toys and her cousin’s hand-me-town Barbie dollhouse, swims, swings, and makes everyone around her smile. She loves big and loud.
We – especially Cate and I – get frustrated with how long it takes Rachel to finish a chore, eat breakfast, or brush her hair. But this girl loves every moment of life. When she doesn’t get sad, it’s short-lived. I’ve said this her whole life, but it remains true:
Rachel radiates joy.
As a mom, she’s taught me to appreciate all the little moments and slow down with my responsibilities so I can snuggle her or listen to her long, detailed stories. Greg and I waited and doubted and waited some more that God would grow our family with a third child, but when the time came to adopt Rachel Elizabeth, I was changed in all the best ways. My older kids probably think I’m easier on her, but the truth is I’m a better version of myself now.
We thought we wanted a third child sooner, but the age gap ended up being perfect. Cate is eight years older and Ben is almost six years older. Their relationships with Rachel have changed throughout the years, depending on how much she’s into their stuff and space, but I love seeing them all shift with each season.
(I tell lots more of this story of God growing our family through adoption in my book, “Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family.” Shameless plug, I know. But when I reflect on what God has done, his faithfulness continues to amaze me.)
We celebrated this birthday girl with a surprise family party earlier this month. Schedules prompted it, but it ended up being just right for her. Then we had her first-grade girl classmates over for what turned into a swim party. We had a string of cool nights just as we replaced our pool liner and refilled the water, so it was quite cold the night of her party. Some girls brought swimsuits and others borrowed from Rachel’s collection. They had a great time swimming, playing, eating burgers and hot dogs and cake. Her actual birthday was two days later and I took cookies and Capri Suns to her class at school and then we made pancake art for dinner.
I love the way birthdays give me a chance to reflect on life and celebrate those I love most. Rachel’s life is well documented, but here I am with a late birthday post. I’ve been writing this post in my head for days, but I finally got a chance this morning to sit down and type it out.
Nonetheless, happy birthday, Rachel girl! You bring so much joy to so many people! I’m excited to see your story continue to unfold.