My baby Cadence turned seven today.
Now, all of a sudden, I look at her and all the baby is officially gone. I listen to her talking, look at her face or the way she moves and I get glimpses of the adult she will become. She’s in this strange in-between place–where she is still very much a child, but where she also shows me daily just how smart and perceptive and wise she is.
She’s seven, and for some reason, that’s really hard for me to wrap my mind around.
For the past few years, I’ve shared Cadence’s crazy birth story on my blog as a 4-part series, detailing the events and the chaos and the seemingly endless days in the hospital that led up to her abrupt arrival. Most people who follow my blog are familiar with the story, but if you missed it, you can read it HERE.
In some strange way, it has always felt to me like Cadence’s crazy arrival on this earth mirrors her personality in many ways. The girl has a soul so big and full of life that it literally bursts out of her–in song lyrics and movie quotes and unbridled, infectious laughter. Her voice is raspy almost all the time because (much like her Daddy) she only seems to have one volume–LOUD.
No, Cadence’s birthday and birth story, like her, are not something that could be muted or contained. And somehow, just writing down and sharing that story every year was something I needed to do to be able to wrap my head around the fact that this beautiful child, with a presence so big it fills every room she walks into, is someone that I had a part in creating.
This year, I sat down on January 31 to start sharing Cadence’s birth saga once again, but this year it just didn’t feel right. This year, instead of focusing on the craziness that led up to the first moment Stevie and I got to hold our sweet baby Cadence in our arms, I wanted to focus on the seven years that she has now spent on this earth. Because even in the short time she’s been here, I can see how very brightly Cadence’s light shines, and how very awesome she is at spreading it around. The world is a better (and louder) place because she’s in it. And with the way things seem to be going these days, we could all use a whole lot more of Cadence-style love and light.
This birthday post is not a place for me to get political, and let’s be honest…anyone who knows me knows that I’ve always hated politics. I’m sure a whole lot of folks are starting to figure out why. But unfortunately we are living in a world where politics have permeated just about every corner of our lives, because we’ve let them.
Because we’ve let them.
And as I look at my daughter and the way she lives and loves and looks at the world, I’ve realized that it is going to be our children who save us from ourselves. They are the only ones who are able to see our world for what it really is–a place to learn and grow and connect with one another.
We’re here. We’re all here. Right now, on this planet, together. That alone should be enough. It’s the ultimate tie that binds us. Everything else is sort of arbitrary, don’t you think? I’m human. You’re human. End of story. We exist. We are conscious beings. If you ask me, everything after that is a choice.
Things happen, things we can’t control. But what we can control is how we respond to them. What we can control is how we live and how we treat each other. What we can control is the type of energy we intentionally put out into this world. So, do we spend our time here spreading the love and light? Or do we contribute to the hate and the darkness?
One of the many things that I love most about my daughter is the way she so beautifully reflects all the amazing people who have come into her life these past seven years. I look at her and I can obviously see so much of myself and Stevie. But I also see the influence of her baby brother, her grandparents and great-grandparents, her aunts and uncles and cousins, her godparents, the amazing teachers and staff at her school and her church and her extracurricular activities. And I see the influence the larger family of friends we have created and continue to connect with as often and intentionally as we can. Cadence carries a piece of all of these people with her, and it’s amazing to see.
But what is even more amazing is seeing how far Cadence’s influence has spread too.
Cadence is one of those friends who is a friend to everyone. She is kind and patient and tolerant. She is the sort of kid who will wait for you to catch up, who will make sure everyone has a turn, who will share even the last little bite of her favorite chocolate if she thinks you would like a piece. I’ve seen her stand up to bullies because she doesn’t like to see anyone being left out or getting their feelings hurt. I’ve seen her admit when she was wrong, even if it means getting punished. And I’ve seen her jump up and run over to make sure the shy kid sitting alone at the table had someone to play with.
A couple years ago, we had a yard sale, and I watched Cadence excitedly greet every child who came strolling up, eager to introduce herself and play and help the children find a toy or a book or something to take home with them. And a million times I’ve watched this bright little ball of infectious energy smile and laugh and pay a sincere compliment to someone in a waiting room or in line at the grocery store and, like magic, I’ve watched that light that burns so brightly in her grow and spread.
And what I’ve learned from all of this is that this world is what we make of it. Right now. This moment. Every day.
We can be door holders. We can be compliment givers. We can be good listeners and hug givers and friends. We can smile at the people we pass on the sidewalk. We can strike up a conversation with that person we see who always seems to be alone. We can take a moment to stop and offer a steady hand when we see someone stumbling. We can share our ideas and we can give people our full attention when they share theirs. And when we’re faced with hate and darkness and evil, we can choose to not join in. We can choose to keep our own light burning so that others might be able to see.
Happy 7th Birthday my sweet Cadence LaRue. Keep smiling. Keep shining. Keep being beautiful you.