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  • Writer's pictureJenny Penland

VII ‣ Never Grow Up.

I've read that seven is an age of exploration, self-critique and combative complaining. I'm here to report that in the case of one Kennedy Samaire Rustmann, the assessment is true. As of late, all my no's are responded to with a resounding, "That's not fair!" And depending on the day's tax, I reply with a stern or giggled, "Life's not fair" rebuttal.

That's the purpose I've carved out in this life of mine, to shape this little life of yours. To remind you that while life isn't fair; your happiness and success will be determined less by the cards you're dealt, and more by how well you play them.

Becoming a mother was like learning to fly - Finding out I was pregnant, giving birth, your first day of school... These were some of the scariest and most exciting moments of my life. And each of these milestones helped to deepen my soul and thwart me to a next stage of person. When you come to an edge, you have to go forward or backward. And the choice is yours, alone. I've learned these decisions must be made with unwavering conviction; if you choose to walk it back, you must rewrite the boundaries. And if you choose to move forward, you have to close your eyes and jump. As you grow, you'll be faced with equally tough choices. And making those choices will be some of the scariest and most exciting moments in your life. I advise you to believe in your capacity and in your dreams, and take a running leap through the hoop, even if it is in flames.

Seven years old. I can hardly believe it. I love teaching you new things. I love singing with you in the car. I love peeking into Ms. Weiser's class and watching you be a helper to your teacher and a leader to your friends. And very, very most of all, I love to watch you play. You go to this different place; to your own little Neverland. And there, you can be anything: a fairy, a mermaid, a clothing designer... even a mommy. I look and you and think, "I made that." Please hold on to that magic within you. That spark of magic will fuel you more than you know, if you just let it.

And as you grow, I'll hold on to these afternoons filled with "Mama, Mama, Mama!" "Mama, I am thirsty," "Mama, look what I made!" "Mama, why aren't you listening to me?" I hear you, Kennedy. I see you. I see everything. And you don't know it, but each evening, after I've kissed you goodnight, I remind myself to cherish these cries for attention; that our days are numbered and soon enough they'll be replaced with, "Get out of my room!" and "Leave me alone!" I whisper, "Never grow up" in your ear, and go to sleep knowing tomorrow you'll be one day closer to doing just that.

Sweet girl, you have been graced with so many gifts. You are kind, charismatic and brilliantly funny. As you grow, please remember this amazing child within you. Hold onto your innocence and your wonderment and let these qualities navigate you from your treasure hunts to your milestones. You are the light for so many, the sun shines on you. Believe me when I say this: inside and out, you're better than I am. And so much of the good in me is owed entirely to you. Thank you for needing me, so I could learn to nurture. Thank you for loving me, so I could learn to soften. It's true, you know - Sometimes you make choices in life, and sometimes your choices make you.

We're living proof.

Happy Seventh Birthday, Kennedy. Stay hungry, stay foolish. Tu es ma joie de vivre.

Love, Mama



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