9 1/2


What you’ll learn about me someday is that your mama likes to write when inspiration strikes. And inspiration has been tough to find during my recent long run of work of which you are always asking, “When are you going to be done with your work?” And truly baby it can’t come too soon right about now when the warmest feelings of family are running through my soul. And with these feelings come inspiration …

It’s late on a Sunday night after our glorious 4-day Thanksgiving break from regular life. And as I was lying in bed about to crash out I kept getting flashes of our time together and wanted to write down these memories. These feelings I have for you tonight – my 9 1/2-year-old firstborn.

9 1/2.

Right about now, I think it’s probably the coolest age there is.

At 9 1/2, you love puppies and you even started a Pet Finder’s Club with your sister and neighbor friends. Your heart is moved every time you see one of those flyers posted in the neighborhood with a picture of a missing pet so you’ve combined your puppy passion with your entrepreneurial nature. It’s the Pet Finder’s Club that makes me know you’ll be okay in life.  A young passionate entrepreneur. How can you lose?  You love reading books about tweeny girl stuff especially when you’re cozy under your dream cloud in bed or stretched out in front of the fire. You can sit and play the assortment of iPhone apps that you’ve downloaded on my old iPhone for too long it seems and you desperately wish for an iPhone that actually calls. I always ask you “Who exactly do you even need to call?” and you answer that you need to call me. That makes me smile. I hope you always want to call me. You love to Irish dance and you’re good at it. Even though there are parts of that world that are tough for me, I love to watch you dance and I love that you love it.  On a warm summer day, there’s nothing better for me to see actually than you doing some impromptu Irish dance steps in your bathing suit on the back deck to a Foo Fighters tune as you watch your reflection in the big sliding glass doors. Such a vision of freedom, creativity and expression. That is you my Claire Rose. Free, creative, expressive.

This is you.

Claire, your spirit is so strong and so sensitive all at the same time it blows my mind. We’ve had plenty of strong bouts recently but tonight I am struck by the loving sensitivity that is bundled up inside my long-limbed fierce beauty.  You are such an awesome big sister both commanding and guiding in the way you lead your lil’ sister and brother.  Phoebe adores you, I might even say worships you, and your sister friendship is truly something to behold. On this Thanksgiving break, we were talking about best friends at the table and you said to Daddy and me about Phoebe, “Well, she is my best friend.”  Well, that statement had tears welling up in my eyes on several occasions as I remembered you saying it….I don’t think a mama could hear anything better really….

Tommy calls you his “Mini-Mama.” He’s been saying that for quite some time. He doesn’t use it all the time but when he does? It’s perfect. This morning I was lying in bed in my typical holiday morning haze and it must have been like 8 AM or maybe 8:30. Daddy and all of you were awake (because Daddy rules at morning duty) and I’m sure you had all been up for at least a couple of hours. Tommy came back upstairs to do his usual routine of watching a “show” – usually Wubbzy – and he called for you to follow him. As I was groggily gaining my awareness, I felt Tommy crawl over me and he pulled down the covers on the other side of the bed where you were going to get in and he said “Let’s cuddle Mini-Mama.” Yep. Mini-Mama. That is you. In so many ways. A mini-me.

I knew early on that we would have our moments. Because you and me are alike in all the same ways that are often the cause of our conflicts.  Dramatic, stubborn and bursting at the seams with emotions.  We want our place in the room to be well-defined and only ours. We are loving but we love things our way. We like what we like. We don’t like what we don’t like. No excuses. We say it like it is. Even when it hurts. We yell loud. We forgive easily. No grudges. Just facts. We can collide, my Claire Rose, and we will, many times. But we will never ever ever drift apart. It’s not who we are.

This evening we were coming home from the mall with Grandma and yep, we were playing your Camp Rock tunes in the car. We pulled into the driveway and I stopped the van but of course did not turn off the engine completely. We were mid-song. Grandma, Tommy and Phoebe slowly filed out and went inside but you wanted to hear “Wouldn’t Change A Thing.” It wasn’t long before you from the back seat and me from the front were involved in our own little duet….with dramatic gestures, singing at the top of our lungs, locking eyes and cracking up all at the same time….

We’re face to face
But we don’t see eye to eye
Like fire and rain
(Like fire and rain)
You can drive me insane
(You can drive me insane)
But I can’t stay mad at you for anything
We’re Venus and Mars
(We’re Venus and Mars)
We’re like different stars
(Like different stars)
But you’re the harmony to every song I sing
And I wouldn’t change a thing…”

Yep, I wouldn’t change a thing. Not one singular thing about who you are Claire. God has given me such a strong soul of a daughter to challenge me all at the right times and even sometimes at the wrong times which end up being the right times too. You have tested me from the very second I found out we were pregnant with you. You were given to me to make me a better person, to fight against my innately selfish nature, to push me to the edge of who I think I can be and to teach me about a kind of love I couldn’t even fathom before meeting you.  You started this profound journey I’ve been on of becoming a mother and in so many ways, you lead me down this crazy winding path of awesome insanity.

Sometimes you look at yourself and you wish you didn’t have freckles. Or you think your feet are too big or maybe you would like a different hair color but I swear Claire – all I see when I look at you is a stunning beauty.   Your hazel eyes that are so wise and so innocent all at the same time, your nose which looks just like your daddy’s to me, and your smile is like sunshine. You just light up the room when you smile. It’s pure joy.

You are a believer. In a world where being 9 1/2 can mean so many different things, you are heart, faith and belief.  You trust the world around you and you feel completely comfortable in it. You are so settled in your skin. It’s the one thing that makes me feel like I’ve done okay so far as your mom. How comfortable you are being you.  You walk through the world with confidence and grace with your two feet planted firmly on the ground. There is nothing airy about you. You are solid and genuine and firmly rooted to the earth.

We had a visit with Santa today at the mall. I can tell that maybe your 9 1/2-year-old mind is whirring away with thoughts of both possibility and impossibility when it comes to this mysterious Santa Claus but as Santa explained how you, Phoebe and Tommy could contact him if you thought of anything else to add to your list, you listened with those most believing eyes, nodding slowly, glancing down at your brother as to retain the important information so you could remind him later of what he needed to do.  You’re smart and logical and sharp. But your soul is filled with faith. Just like your mama.

At the mall, we had a visit to Claire’s – a perfect place for young girls as they tiptoe towards tweendom – and you and your sister picked up all kinds of little pop trinkets that instill a sense of “grown-up independence.”  As you explained to my iPhone video about wanting a particular lip gloss set enclosed in a plastic pink doggie case, I marveled at your analysis of the products you had been exploring and your opinion on why this particular set was especially appealing.  Throughout our time at Claire’s, you asked me all kinds of questions about ear piercing since it seems you are pretty curious as to whether or not you should get yours pierced. You want to have earrings like so many of your friends but there’s another side of you that knows you could live a perfectly happy life without having your ears pierced….I’m curious to see what you decide. You’ve never been a big fan of pain….

While you were cruising around Claire’s, I thought this is one way we are distinctly different. You will always be way cooler than me. From your truly original fashion style, to your hair styles, to your music taste, to your discerning eye for good iPhone apps, to your enthusiasm and curiosity for all that life holds for a 9 1/2 year old to explore – you inspire me. If I were 9 1/2 I would totally want to be your BFF.  You are my kind of chick.

But instead I am your mom. And wow. That’s a very different role than a BFF. But I’m hoping someday along the way there will be BFFish elements to our relationship. But that will be someday…..

When we said good night tonight and sweet dreams like we always do, I told you how much fun I had with you during this Thanksgiving break. And you said you had so much fun too. We then reminded each other that it wasn’t too much longer before Christmas vacation and we would get to do a lot of fun things together then too. I gave you a big kiss on your puckered lips and snuggled into your neck to kiss it just like I’ve done since you were my chunky love of a baby. You squirmed and told me it tickled but I also know that you love it when I do that sometimes. Because you like to be reminded of when you were my baby girl. Even as you grow and stretch your way ever so slowly and ever so quickly it seems towards independence, you’re not even close to being ready to being a truly big girl.  Even though being a big girl is just around the corner….

And that is why I love you being 9 1/2 so so so much.  Still my baby girl but old enough to sing a duet with.

I love you so much my Claire Rose.  I am so blessed to be your mama.








7 Responses to “9 1/2”

  1. Love this. It’s good to see you here.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    My friend, this was absolutely beautiful and moving. Claire sounds like an incredible girl, and I can say with certainty that she has an incredible mama. Wow, Leanne. This is just gorgeous.

    miss you, friend.

  3. Ash says:

    One of the most beautiful love letters I’ve ever been privileged to read. Gorgeous words. Gorgeous young lady.

    Fantastic mother.

    The future world thanks you.

    XO – A

  4. Amy says:

    Awesome post my friend. You are one incredible mother and Claire is blessed to be yours. I loved it.

    Also, beautiful ending photo. You are both fierce beauties in my book!

  5. Laura says:

    Claire reminds me so much of myself.


    please be inspired to write more often because you are all I like to read.
    And will you adopt me?
    You are the mom I try to be, the mom I wish I had.


  6. LiveLikeYou says:

    Hi Lee, stumbled upon your blog surfing google trying to decide if I should move to LA or NYC to raise my awesome little boy. His dad just passed away and I want to give him the best life I can. You’ve made a great case for LA, can’t wait to read more of your posts. My son is 10, as you said the coolest age there is. Beautiful letter to your beautiful daughter!

    • Lee says:

      Hi! Thank you so much for reading and for commenting. Wow. Sounds like you are going through some huge tough changes in your life…my heart breaks for you and your son with the loss of his dad.

      I checked out your site. Gorgeous. Just all kinds of beauty with your talent…good luck with your decision on where to move. And with all of the changes being thrown your way…see you around perhaps….


Leave a Reply