I remember six years ago like it was yesterday. The time between then and now seems to have passed in the blink of an eye and yet, looking at my daughter, I can see that so much has changed. Tons of teary-eyed platitudes come to mind when a mother contemplates her child growing into an independent person. I won't veer off too far into that realm because what I want to record today is my admiration of my daughter's spirit. M1 has had to deal with alot in her young life. She went from having an intact, albeit not completely happy, family and a stay-at-home mom in her first three years to having her dad leave, her mom take on a full-time job, a step-dad enter the picture and a new baby sister arrive in the next three. She has the sweetest spirit of any person I have met. Honest to a fault. Caring to the point of neglecting herself at times. Empathetic beyond her years. M1 is the type of person I'd be if only I were good enough. She has faced her life head on and taken what has been handed her and flourished. Lots of people would be considered successful if they had "made the best" of their situation and survived. M1, however, recognizes that although not the way she might have thought or at first wanted, she has a pretty good life. Part of that comes from my fierce protection of her developing identity. There is no room in our relationships for animosity or hostility. I chose her father and he picked me and although we both looked the other way on the "until death do us part" portion of the vows, we share a child. THAT fact binds us together forever and M1 will not be forced to choose between loving her mother's family or her father's family. Her dad has stepped to the side a bit to allow her to develop a growing relationship with my new husband and has embraced the idea of me remaining active in his family to some degree. His parents and I stay in touch regularly and they are more than generous with their care and attention to M1 and M2. It amazes me how readily they adjusted their definitions of our changing relationships so that M1 can still feel appreciated and that she is the most important thing going...not so that she becomes conceited but so that she realizes that how you feel doesn't always need to dictate what you do. I didn't always feel loving toward her dad after we separated, but there comes a point where you have to deal with what is and go from there. M1 is important enough to try harder and be nicer and not get wrapped up in weird social mores that make what our divorce looks like seem "strange" to people. M1 is a great person. She is smart as a whip and has always had a memory that defies conventional definitions of the word. She is helpful and kind. I am envious of her free, artistic side that she more than likely inherited from her dad's mother. She is a gifted artist and appreciates others' works as well. She loves to write, draw, paint, dance and sing---her creations are inspiring. It scares me sometimes to be in charge of such a promising soul. Again, I need to get back to church because if I screw this up, I'm sure there is a special place in hell for that. God trusted me alot in giving me M1. Perhaps it was also to strike a balance some four years later when M2 came barreling into the world, but that remains to be seen; I'm still trying to figure out how to be a good mom to M2. M1 tells me I'm a wonderful mother & that's all the validation I need. I will never forget when I read one of her school papers where she responded to the question, "What makes me happy..." with "when my mom tells me I'm smart." I have a big job ahead, people. Happy Birthday, PeaPie.