Dear my Andi (stuck in the middle) Jane,
Hey there my girl! I’m writing this the day after you turned 10 (10?! When did that happen?) Some things really made me think a lot about you and they made me think about me as a mama and I felt like these feelings should be put on paper before they are just a vapor of thoughts that were here and then gone. Did you know you are quite amazing? Wonderful in fact! I probably don’t tell you that nearly enough. But you are a one of a kind person who changed my life totally and completely.
On your birthday we sat and watched old movies. We laughed at what a cute silly baby you were. But I watched you watch the videos and watched you watch as we (your parents) would scan the camera from you to Lily and we’d say how beautiful Lily was and what a good girl she was and what a wonderful girl she was, then we would scan back to you and say things like what a silly girl you were, crazy girl, wild girl, even bad girl. And I don’t know what you were experiencing while watching, but I cringed. I cringed for you because you were doing all those things I had hoped for Lily to do and you were so advanced, so smart, so funny and I felt bad Lily couldn't do those things and I could see that I parented you both so differently. I saw it with my own eyes. You grew up in a shadow you never could get out from under. I knew it, but I didn't see it like I did on Tuesday as we watched those videos. I guess my brain said Andi is tough, Andi is independent and she didn't need me to coddle her like I felt Lily needed. Still needs. And I try not to live with regrets but I do wish I had done things differently for you at times. I wanted so badly to go back in time to the place of that video and pick you up, snuggle you and whisper to you that you are so good, so special to us, so smart, so beautiful, and so sweet. I loved on you as a baby, I nursed you until you were 2 (sorry, I know so embarrassing) so I am not saying you were neglected, you were loved, you were cuddled, and I don’t think I can put into words what I saw on the screen as I watched those movies, I just know it was different. I was a different mom to you both and I know that it would be impossible to not do that, I just wish I gave you more. And back then there wasn't much more of me to give, but I should have found it and gave it to you.
Oh my Andi. The thing about you though is you never showed any resentment towards Lily. You always have and always do for her. Love on her, care for her. You are the best sister Lily could ever have and while I know that, I had to watch those videos to really KNOW it. It isn't easy being you. And then we added a little brother to the mix and honey I understand it isn't fair for you a lot of the time.
When you asked if it could just be you and I on your birthday, no Lily, no Oliver, just you and I, I know you felt bad saying that, you told me so, but I am glad you were able to say it. If you want your special day spent shopping with your mama you can have that. And what a fun day that was! That’s allowed every once and awhile.
You were not given an easy place in this world. You have had to grow up faster than most kids your age. You see your parents put your sister’s needs before yours and you somehow “get it”. It doesn't even seem fair for you to have to get it, but you do.
There may be days that just seem hard, that you just want to lie around and not talk to us and that’s OK. Every once in a while, that is OK, but thank you for not staying in those moods. Thank you for your smiles, your dances, your songs, and your awesome friends you chose. Andi Jane, you are a good person. I am not just saying that as your mom, you are a person I am happy to know and love to be around. Sometimes I push you to do things better and bug you to try harder but I hope you know it is because you are meant for awesome things. I don’t want you ever shorting yourself on all you can be.
I think we do better now, but there were many years I admit were not my best and you witnessed those years and you grew up as your parents grew up. We are all growing together. And I pray we are growing better and stronger and I am sorry for things and I am grateful for things and I am a better mother and better person because of you three kids who give me life.
God placed you in our lives when he did and made you exactly who you were meant to be. He knitted you in my womb… isn't that awesome?! He knows every hair on your head. I used to say this verse over and over for Lily and I believe it 100% for her BUT I believe it 100% for you too. And even that little brother of yours ;) You are exactly who God meant for you to be and you are exactly the person to have your place in this family and in this world.
We cherish you and celebrate you! As much as it saddens me for you to grow up, it also excites me seeing who you are becoming and I know as challenging as those first 10 years were at times, I know the next 10 will have many more and different challenges, I pray you always know God is walking side by side with you. Look to him in all your life choices he will never lead you astray.
Happy 10th Birthday Andi Jane! Continue to shine his light! Thank you for staying true to yourself and always continue to do just that!