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Ten.


So on my To-Do List (which I abhor and don't actually keep) is my daughter's birthday party.


Yesterday, she turned 10.


Ten.


Last kid.


First birthday party post break up.


She's the only daughter.


The fourth child.


The last child.


Our #4 baby, but our #1 girl.


Our little girl.


The one who holds up the mirror to us more than the boys ever have, could, or would.


(We'd casually decided to have three kids and got four. Most people casually decide to have two and get three; be really careful with casualness.)


But in our case?


We found out the gender while she was still inside and that made the last 20 weeks of carrying her no problem.


I walked out of the ultrasound exam office in Sydney, Australia back in 2008 and hustled my pregnant self over to a children's boutique and bought the first adorable pink baby pyjamas I could find. I began to brainstorm girl names for real without secretly feeling I was surely deluding myself.


I felt pregnant for the first time ever, even though the compression stockings holding my veins together told me that was far from true.


"She's a girl!" I let it sink in. I believed it. Sort of. Now that sounds FUN!


Bring it the F*%# on!


If we got really lucky and all went well, she was coming our way.


There was no doubt about it.


Plans were rearranged. A beautiful girly bassinet was purchased. A lovely girl name was chosen with an equally enchanting middle name. We were getting a bonus gift from Life itself.


An unexpected treasure we would all appreciate for her uniqueness among us.


She would be like her brothers, but different.


They would adore her.


We all would.


And she us.


Life was looked at a little differently.


And suddenly...





There she was... our baby girl.


Our gift.


Our treasure.




Smart.


Funny.


Kind.


Caring.


Spicy.


Creative.


Feisty.


Empathetic.


Open-minded.


Free Spirited.


Beautiful


Loving


Forgiving


And ten years old.


I LOVE you, Paige Juliet Allen.


I hope you like your super girly, super literary, super you, assigned name. You are Paige after pages of books, magazines, poems... pages of literature and revelation. You are Juliet because Juliet loved Romeo and Romeo loved Juliet. But love is hard and complicated and never comes easy. Be strong and be sure you love big like Romeo and Juliet, Paige. Enjoy your writing process like William Shakespeare obviously did. And may you one day, one day, one day, my sweet, difficult, intensely intelligent girl, love yourself more than anyone else ever possibly could. And may that always be enough for you; to be able to share your abundant love with everyone around you.


Contrary to what you might hear and what you might feel sometimes, there is no shortage of love.


Be brave, Paige. Be vulnerable. Be open to hearing people and deciding if you agree or not; be open to formulating your own opinions, regardless.


I love you, my daughter.


And I am so glad you chose me to be your only Mama. We will shine brightly and fight the good fight for love and respect together.


We are a team, the two of us together.

Let's make sure we remember it when we need to.


Namaste.


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