Yesterday was Emily's 12th birthday. This was such a milestone day for both of us. I loved that she had a snowday and was able to spend the day at home. Her new Young Women leader and two of the Beehives visited her today. They brought her balloons in the value colors and all the YW books and pamphlets. I was delighted to see how they welcomed her so openly and helped her feel comfortable with this transition. She is very nervous about attending YW this Sunday. Seeing her being unsure of this new situation reminded me of how scared I was when I started YW. I remember how grown up and sophisticated the Laurels were and how tiny and young I felt. Emily is blessed to have associations with great leaders and also older girls that are setting such a good example for her. I am so excited for her! They gave her the torch necklace, which she secretly calls the "fire lady necklace." She put it right on and wore it to school today. Entering YW is such a landmark in the life of an LDS girl. She is not a child anymore and will only get more mature and competent from here on.
Another milestone completed was getting her ears pierced. My mom had a rule that I had to be 12 to get my ears pierced and I held to the same rule for Emily. After dinner of homemade pizza, (her dinner choice) we took a family trip to the Westland Mall. We stopped at the Piercing Pagoda where she looked at the spinning display of earrings and said she was so nervous. Anna and I reassured her that it doesn't hurt and that she could do it. (Anna, you should blog about your piercing experience.) I could tell by the look on her face that she was sooo scared! She chose a very cute pair of posts and then a few minutes later, she was pierced! She looks very beautiful and grown up.
Another landmark event today was her opening a letter written to her by my mother. My mother wrote it to her in 1987 and it was addressed on the envelop to "Jennifer's Future Daughter to be Opened on Her 12th Birthday." This letter has been sitting in my jewelry box for years waiting for Emily to turn 12. I have seen her come into my room and look at the envelop, turning it in her fingers, probably wondering what her Grandma Gloria is going to tell her. I am confident that Emily grasps that this is a most precious item. I feel so fortunate that my mom was so close to the Spirit to feel the need to pen such a note. The letter was the first thing Emily asked about in the morning. She opened it and read it and let me read it. It was one of the best things I have ever read. It was lovingly addressed and told of my mom's and my relationship at the time (I was 13 when it was written). My mother implored Emily to see me as her friend and develop our relationship as mother and daughter. She said some beautiful things that I will hold dear to my heart always. Emily was visibly touched by the moment.
My daughter, Emily, has been so precious to me even before she was born. When I was expecting, I knew she was a girl and I knew her name would be Emily. I would talk to her and felt so close to her. When she was placed in my arms for the first time, I knew her! She was familiar to me already. She was the sweetest baby, a delightful toddler and so enjoyable as a child. That is not to say that she was perfect. She had her moments. I recall one of them being in the Lansing Ward building when I was on assignment to visit a ward there. I often traveled to various wards for my calling and because Chris' calling was such that he couldn't take a toddler with him, she would travel with me. For the most part, she would quietly play with toys or books. One day she was just out of sorts and was screaming and carrying on. I was at my wits end with her. I took her into a classroom and was going to punish her but was overcome with a feeling that I should sing a Primary song to her at that moment. I did so and she calmed down. I remember feeling thankful for parenting help from the Master Parent. At 12, she still has her moments, but in spite of them, she is just the most wonderful daughter that there ever was. I used to get upset at the thought of her growing up and leaving home. I don't so much anymore because I know that we will be great friends forever. She and I have a bond that time, age and distance cannot overcome.
Emily, you are so dear to me and I am a better mother because I have you for a daughter.