Two weeks ago Ella celebrated her eleventh birthday. Eleven! I almost can’t believe it. I thought her turning ten last year felt like she was all grown up. It’s got nothing on eleven though. Eleven feels…different. She’s on the cusp of so many changes and it’s going to be a learning curve for both of us as we navigate this new part of our journey together.
She’s already completed a whole term of her final year at primary school and in three months time we find out which high school she’ll be going to in September. She’s going to be starting to walk to and from school on her own once the mornings and evenings are a bit lighter. Even the gifts she’s received for her birthday are changing – there were noticeably more nail varnishes and clothes rather than toys. At least her love of books and reading has stayed constant and for that I am immensely grateful.
We bought her a phone (somewhat reluctantly on my part, though the husband was all for it). An old model Samsung that we got a very cheap monthly contract on by adding it to my husband’s account. Ella, of course, was utterly thrilled. In my head it was for her to use to keep in touch with her friends via text, and for her to be able to contact us if there is ever an emergency while she’s out without us on the way to or from school. In reality there are apps and games and Youtube and Whatsapp and a whole plethora of things that I don’t understand and not understanding them means that they feel scary. So my next task is to get MY head round it all, plus decide upon how much time is reasonable for her to spend on it. I refuse to let my girls become smart-phone zombies so there will be limits, as boring as she insists that makes me. Unplugged is still best in my eyes.
It’s interesting observing her. Sometimes she seems so mature and so wise beyond her years. And in other moments I still see my little girl, the one who loves cuddles and Disney princesses. The dichotomy can be challenging at times and it’s going to take us both some practice to figure out this new normal. Whilst all these upcoming ‘firsts’ feel a bit overwhelming* (*terrifying), they’re exciting too. She’s not who she’s going to be yet, and having the privilege of watching her become more of whoever that will be is an honour.
Her birthday was a school day, so she used an ‘own clothes’ token from her school credits that she’d been saving up especially for the occasion. She’d decided that she wanted to go bowling for her birthday so she invited five friends and they, plus her sisters, all had a blast. Ella got a strike on her first go (birthday luck!), they laughed and laughed and laughed together and I caught a tiny glimpse into what she might be like in a few years time, hanging out with her mates as teenagers. She declared it the “best birthday ever”, so I’m calling that a win. It was such a success that Lola, who’s birthday is in a couple of weeks time, has also requested a bowling party bless her.
My Mum came up for the weekend after Ella’s birthday, and whilst she had to leave early because of the snow (otherwise she would have been stranded!) we did have a really lovely day together. And the week after that Sophie came to stay, so Ella got more presents and we all went out to dinner at Pizza Hut, as per the birthday girl’s request. So her birthday ended up being more of a birthday fortnight really and I guess that’s ok – after all, it’s not every day you turn eleven.
Eleven years ago she made me a mother for the first time. Eleven years ago my purpose shifted and I was forever changed. Eleven years ago this little soul made her entrance into the world and she has been making her mark on it ever since. I am so proud of her simply for being who she is and I am more grateful than I could ever imagine that I have been blessed with this kind, thoughtful and loving girl. She teaches me something new about myself daily and I hope I can keep guiding her towards the things that matter as she grows up.
Happy birthday Ella, we love you more than you’ll ever know.