Happy 6th birthday to my sweet Rachael. I loved you from the moment I knew about you... before really. God prepared my heart for you.
I'll never forget our first face to face moment. Your daddy had been to visit me in Tennessee and meet me; the next visit I came to North Carolina to meet you. Daddy had the garage door open for me, and I pulled into the garage. You and Daddy were waiting on the steps. There you were -- a redhead with an angelic face. You were a little shy, but you got over that really quickly. I was completely in love.
I know that God isn't reckless and that He has a purpose in everything... So not only did He choose me to be Daddy's wife, but He handpicked me to be your other mom too.
I really didn't know what I was getting myself into. I thought that the biggest struggles I would face as a stepmom would be dealing with your Mommy... Never once has that been a struggle. Instead, I struggle as I watch you continue to grow and I mourn the 3 1/2 years of your life that I missed out on. I lay awake at night worrying that I haven't done enough, loved enough, disciplined enough, played enough... I never play enough. I see you acting exactly like me (God does have a sense of humor) and having to learn things the hard way and I long to save you from making some of the mistakes I had to learn from. I didn't know that being a stepmom would be such a weird, delicate balance between loving you like you're mine and having to share you with someone else. The truth is you aren't really mine... nor are you Mommy's or Daddy's or Tony's or Maw Maw's or Paw Paw's. You are God's child first. I don't ever want to forget that you belong to Him and that you're just on loan to us. How privileged we all are!!
The hardest thing about being a stepmom is that... I'm just a mom. I don't get a free pass from the worry and responsibility just because I didn't give birth to you. I don't get a free pass from sharing my heart, just because I didn't have to share my body. In some ways, loving you makes me more vulnerable than I might be loving Henry, because with some of the insecurities that come with being a stepmom and loving you so much, you hold the power to break my heart... which has happened once or twice. I wouldn't change a thing. I don't know if you'll ever understand how much I love you, because I'm still trying to understand it.
I am so proud of you. I love your enthusiasm for singing and reading and swimming. I love the funny things you say when you're not trying to be funny. The love you already have for your brother amazes me. Watching you love on my belly and the excitement you have about getting to be a big sister... it makes me so happy. I love sharing him with you and I'm so glad that we will forever be tied together by not just Daddy, but Henry as well. Your ability to truly multiply, rather than divide your love... it's inspiring. The way that you open your heart to so many and just take in stride having to be shared and switching between homes. I love you so much when you see the difference between the way something is done and what God's word says... and it breaks your heart... or makes you indignant. I love you for your tender heart and that you cry when I cry. I love watching you grow and seeing you become more independent. I love the little pictures you draw. I love these things and so much more.
I can't wait to see how you grow and change this year... but for just a little while.. can't you just stop and stay exactly as you are right now?
Thank you for being my little girl and for accepting me as your Mama. Loving you and raising you is a privilege and a blessing. I still can't believe God chose me. I love you with all my heart. <3