When you turned 10

By Mir
April 18, 2008

Dear Chickadee,

When you turned 10, I was dumb enough to ask the internet for their thoughts on bringing food into the movies, which—let’s face it—we have always done because we are a family of hoodlums. After receiving more comments on that post than on the one where I totaled the car or when Otto and I got engaged, I sat you down and asked you if you thought that rules could be ignored whenever we felt like it, just because sometimes we bring our own snacks. You rolled your eyes. “Of course not! You always follow the rules! It’s just that that rule is dumb.” It brought a tear to my eye, truly.

When you turned 10, I told you to go clean your room and you actually did it. Your closet—a.k.a. The Dumping Ground—resembled a military locker when you were done, and I was astonished by your conscientiousness.

(We won’t talk about how later on, I stepped on some doll clothes peeking out from under your bed. “Do I want to look under there?” I asked you. “No, I’m pretty sure you don’t,” you answered. “I forgot about that part.”)

When you turned 10, you wanted boys to come to your party, and you didn’t think it was weird. You elaborately planned out how you would sit between Nightingale (your female BFF) and Hawk (your male BFF) at the movie, and how the OTHER boy in the group could sit on Hawk’s other side, away from you. Because you have a leetle bit of a crush on this other boy, darling, and I can feel the winds of change blowing as you carefully prepare for your day by making absolutely certain that you and this boy will never actually be near each other at all. When you are 10, the way you express your undying devotion is by pretending the object of your love is INVISIBLE. I am planning to give him extra cake tonight, just so you know.

When you turned 10, I let you pick the activity (a movie) and dinner (make-your-own pizzas) and the dessert (white cake with chocolate frosting, and Otter Paws ice cream to go with it). The day before was punctuated with unexpected squeezes and declarations of love (“You are my MOST FAVORITE MAMA in the WHOLE WORLD!”) and even a few unsolicited thank-yous. Because when you turned 10, you were still a child, and even still a child with a propensity to focus on yourself, but you were just beginning to bloom into a new level of understanding human interaction. You know what I don’t say, and you’ve figured out that it’s important to voice appreciation and caring.

When you turned 10, you spent weeks fretting and crying that you didn’t WANT to turn 10, that you wanted to be little forever. But by the night before you were bright-eyed and ready. “This is my last 9-year-old sleep!” you declared, hugging me close. “Tomorrow, I’ll be BIG!” I told you that you would still be you, just a little older and wiser.

“You are going to be the most amazing adult I know,” I told you, tracing the curve of your nose. “But not just yet. Plenty of time.”

“How do you know, Mama? How do you KNOW I’m going to be amazing?”

“Because you already are,” I whispered. I dropped a kiss into your hair while your smile curved up to meet me.

When you turned 10, I went downstairs after bedtime to start baking, and you appeared twenty minutes later insisting that you needed “just one more 9-year-old hug.” I obliged and gave you a lick of cake batter, too, because you’re only nearly-10 once, after all.

When you turned 10, I baked fifty cupcakes and made your stepfather come help me frost them when it was late and we were both wishing we were already in bed. While you slept, we discussed icing styles and how many we’d done in each flavor, and when I tried to put the cover on the cake-taker I knocked a cupcake onto the floor. Otto insisted on taking a picture of the mess before we cleaned it up. Of course.

When you turned 10, we woke you up and sang to you, as we’ve done for years, only this time Otto was there, too, and though it was the most tuneless rendition of Happy Birthday the world has ever known, you flung your arms around me and then reached out to encompass Monkey and Otto, too, so that we were a serenading birthday blob.

When you turned 10, your father called to sing to you, too, and so by 6:45 in the morning you’d already been regaled by song TWICE. Some people are never so lucky.

When you turned 10, the birthday fairy brought you 10 presents in a straight line down the stairs, across the dining room, and ending with a package at your seat at the kitchen table. The birthday cards that had come in the mail this last week were taped to the wall in a wild pattern, and your cup of orange juice seemed out of place amongst such a festive scene. You emerged for breakfast both confused at and delighted by this bounty, and after asking permission you scooped it all up and brought it to the table.

When you turned 10, you carefully opened wrapped packages inbetween mouthfuls of cereal. “Ooohhhh!” you declared with each new discovery. “Chickie LIKE! Yes!” (I am hoping that when you turn 11 you will stop referring to yourself in the third person.) You admired each gift (books! karaoke CDs!) and showed your brother every one, and periodically your hand snaked up to tuck some hair behind your ear without conscious thought. We watched you unwrap and I watched that gesture—so very you and so easy to envision on the teen you, the adult you.

When you turned 10, you put on your backpack and grabbed a container of cupcakes and hugged me tight. “Bye Mama, love you! See you after school!” And then you pulled away to head out to the car, and I watched you bounce away, tall and strong and happy and calm, and I gently closed the door and sat down at my desk and wept a little.

When you turned 10, you were more than I deserve, and everything I never knew I needed until I got it.

Happy birthday to my very favorite girl. 10 is going to be your best year yet.



  1. Liza

    Mir, that was absolutely beautiful. Chickie is one lucky 10 year old, and it sounds like you’re a lucky family.

  2. Otto

    For the record … I was the one singing out-of-tune. But it didn’t matter at all.

    Happy Birthday, pal.


  3. Leandra

    Oh my lord. Tears everywhere and not a tissue in sight. Beautiful, though. Just beautiful.

  4. Kati

    Happy Birthday Chickie!

  5. Kristi

    Happy Day for all of you!

  6. Crisanne

    Beautiful! Many birthday wishes for Chickie!!!

    What a sweet time for you-and Otto and Monkey, too.

    Oh, and have fun tonight!

  7. Jennifer

    Trying very hard not to smear my mascara. . .

    Happy Birthday Chickie!

  8. Em

    I cry at every birthday of each kid. Not that I am not happy, you know of course. Now, you have me crying a little for Chickidee’s birthday.

    I hope Chickidee has a great birthday, that each year is better than the last and that she sees herself the way her mom sees her.

  9. Lori

    Happy Birthday Chickadee! I hope the day is the most special ever!

  10. Jill

    Very happy birthday wishes!

    And I’m not crying. It’s allergies!

  11. bogartg

    Happy Birthday, Chickadee! You are one amazing girl with an amazing mom!

  12. holly

    Oh, how sweet. I’m glad to kow I’m not the only one who cries a little on each birthday. It’s always so bittersweet.

  13. All Adither

    10 sounds lovely.

  14. Leanne

    You totally forgot the ***TISSUE ALERT*** and now? My keyboard is shorting out.

    Happy Birthday, Chickadee!!

  15. Janssen

    What a great post.

    And i’m secretly thrilled that you were the one who wanted to sneak non-overpriced candy into the theater.

  16. DR

    What a beautiful memory for both of you (and the guys, too, of course).

    Hoping that the boy doesn’t (gasp) talk to her at the party!

    My take on the gazillions of responses yesterday is that it’s awesome so many have found your blog. Since your personality shines through your writing, my guess is that many of them never comment but felt comfortable in responding to you. You have that kind of welcoming spirit.

    Share internet best wishes to the now-double-digit gal and enjoy your memories of a true “labor day” ten years ago.

  17. Beth

    Happy Birthday Chickadee! Have fun at the movies tonight!

  18. Mama Bear

    It must be a nearly 10 thing (Miss 9 will be ten in 22 days)She is constantly referring to herself in the third person. “Miss 9’s ankle still hurts.” “Miss 9 needs another hug.” It drives me nuts. I’m hoping maybe it’s something that will stop, soon, like maybe the day after her 10th birthday, since Chickie hasn’t stopped quite yet.
    Happy Birthday Chickadee!
    And thanks for ruining my mascara this morning, Mir.

  19. Sheila

    Crying, over here. As I did twelve days ago when my favorite girl turned 10. Only I’m not so joyfully embracing the years to come. I want all the previous ones back. How do you look forward happily without also dying a little for all that is being left behind? How do you let go? How do you write so beautifully about all this after frosting FIFTY cupcakes in the middle of the night, for Lord’s sake?

  20. sassymonkey

    Happy Birthday Chickadee!

  21. jen

    Happy Birthday Chickie!

  22. Aimee


    What a beautiful birthday tribute. My mascara, she’s gone. It was worth it, though. Happiest of happy days, Miss Chickadee!

  23. Sara

    You will love 10 Chickadee. Many happy returns of the day!

  24. dad

    The best “love Thursday” seems to have happened on a Friday.
    This post should become your “ritual to be read to each other” on all Chicadee’s special days from this time forward.

    Happy Birthday Chicadee.
    You have always been my favorite grand-daughter.

  25. Nichole

    My 2-year-old was sitting in my lap as I read this. It made me cry and squeeze her a little tighter. I get glimpses of her 10-year-old self sometimes, and it’s heartbreaking and thrilling all at once.

  26. Jodie

    Ahhhh…my morning routine at work is to sit down, check my email and read your blog. And a good half the time you make me cry! Beautiful. I know my girl will be there before I know it.

  27. Cassie

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHICKIE!!! (Mir, you just made me tear up BIG time)

  28. Cheryl

    Happy birthday, Chickadee!

  29. Karin

    Stop making me cry! ;) Happy birthday Chickadee :)

  30. Erin

    Happy birthday, Chickadee! May all your ten-year-old (and beyond) dreams come true!

  31. Dawn

    Happy 10th Birthday Chickadee!

    Mir, that was beautiful. *sniff*

  32. Alison

    Lovely post.

    Why is it that all mothers and fathers in blogland are fantastic mothers and fathers? Or do they just write and pretend that they’re good mothers and fathers?

    Has anyone seen any blogs where jaded parents complain about their unruly offspring?

  33. ChristieNY

    Happy big 1-0, Chickie!!! Sounds like it’s off to a WONDERFUL start!

    And happy birth-of-your-daughter-day, Mama, what a day to celebrate! :)

  34. Headless Mom

    Happy Day, Chicadee!

    Mir- really beautiful! I, too, have tears. Enjoy this special day!

  35. Jean

    Mir, why must you make me cry first thing in the morning? Seriously, Chickie is one lucky girl to have a mama like you. And sounds like you are one lucky Mama :)

  36. Shalee

    Wow Chickee! Now you’re two whole hands! Happy Birthday, oh grown-up one… you are a very loved and blessed girl indeed!

    (Loved this post, Mir. Though life sometimes sucks and the kids can be tough to take at times, this post proves that it’s the good things that we remember most when push comes to shove.)

  37. emily

    You said that so beautifully. Lucky Chickadee, and lucky Mama.

    I am definitely not crying. It is totally allergies. I just got allergies. Yes, that’s it.

  38. MomCat

    Super sweet reading!

  39. E

    Happy Birthday to the girl with the best name in the whole world!

    (I only say that because I once heard you have the same name as me – only I spell it wrong. :-))

    And Mir, I think you will never, ever again ask the Internet what they think about such little things as bringing snacks into the movies. Because, whoo-boy, the responses!

  40. Heidi

    Blowing my nose so as to not get snot on the keyboard…

  41. Katie

    Happy 10th birthday Chickadee! And a very happy mom day to you Mir, you’ve survived the first 10 years very well!

  42. StephLove

    Happy Birthday to you!
    Happy Birthday to you!
    Happy Birthday, dear Chickadee!
    Happy Birthday to you!

  43. a different kate

    I pink puffy heart love this post!

    Happy Birthday Chickadee! (and Mir! after all, you had something to do with it too.)

    A double digit birthday. Sigh. Now the fun really begins!

  44. tuney

    Happy Birthday, Chickie!!

  45. Leanne

    oooh Happy Birthday Chickie!!!

    That post gave be goosebumps and that lovey feeling.

  46. donna


    Happy Birthday Chickie!

  47. Jules

    Wow, I’m so teary after this.. I feel so honored to have been a part of every birthday since the very beginning. Also, the tears come because this day of your first baby turning 10.. means mine is following so very closely.. I’m not sure I’m ready..

    Happy Birthday Chickie..10 is going to be a fantastic year for you.

    Happy birthday and much love to you too Mir.. Of course without you, none of this would be possible ;) You truly are the bestest smartest momma I know.

  48. jennielynn

    10 will indeed be the best year ever. Until she turns eleven. Then twelve. And oh! it just gets sweeter from here on out. Enjoy your day!

  49. Tammy

    Mir, you are the best mom ever.

    Happy Birthday Chickadee!!

  50. Ramblin' Red

    Bawling, Mir.

    Thanks a lot!

    Oh….gosh, I feel that one coming up with my LMNOB. Can’t believe that it is only 3 yrs out.

    (hugs) from the BirthdayMama Fairy (these days are hard for the mamas)

  51. Leah

    10 is a wonderful birthday! I hope she has a great one! What a beautiful post.

  52. Alison C

    Happy Birthday, Chickadee!!

  53. kim

    Happy Birthday Chickadee.

    Today is my DD’s 8th birthday. Similar emotions. Thanks Mir for expressing it so eloquently.

  54. Jamie AZ

    Happy birthday, Chickadee! That’s a beautiful letter, Mir!

  55. elizabeth

    Happy Birthday Chickadee!

    Mir, that was beautiful. and you’re sneaking the candy in aren’t you, I thought so. ;-)

  56. saucygrrl

    Happy Birthday to Chickadee!

    You two are truly just wonderful people and deserve everything good you have coming to you.

    Have fun at the movies with your handcuffs! :)

  57. juliness

    Ok, so I am sitting here, holding my own baby (who just fell asleep) while crying and trying to sniff up the tears so they don’t fall on her. Thank you for giving me even more to look forward to.

    PS You TOTALLY deserve her, my friend.

  58. Melisa


    Happy Birthday, Chickie!

    Double digits are the best!

  59. Beth

    Happy Birthday, Chickadee! I hope you have a wonderful party tonight.

    Big hugs to Monkey and Otto and Mir, too!

    And Mir? Thank you so much for giving us this wonderful window into your life. I really wish I lived closer to you — I’d hunt you down and make you hang out with me ;-)

  60. Mom24

    That was absolutely beautiful. Isn’t it fun how amazing 10 is? I hope you have a wonderful day, and I hope Chickadee has a great time at the movies. I’ve been tempted to second guess myself, but now I’m pretty sure that my children will not grow up to be hoodlums because Mommy takes candy to the movie. They don’t even realize that’s why Mommy always brings her BIG purse!

  61. gwendomama

    mir, that brought tears to mah eyes. what a beautiful mama you are.

  62. The Other Other Dawn

    Aw. That was just lovely.

    No. That’s not a tear. No, it isn’t!

  63. carrie

    Can’t type — too teary.

    Sigh. Lovely.

  64. mamalang

    So sweet. And you now in less than 6 months, this will be me. Only more emotional. Yup.

  65. The Other Leanne

    Happy 10th Birthday, Chickadee, from the whole Internet!

  66. carrie

    when chickadee turned 10, she was very very lucky to have a mom like you.

    this made me cry. thank you! (well…that just seems weird, but…you know.)

  67. Melissa

    Happy 10th Birthday Chickadee!
    That was just beautiful and now I’m crying too.

  68. arduous

    Happy Birthday Chickadee!!

  69. Megan

    Best Love Friday ever.

  70. Alice

    That is SO beautiful. I hope that there’s a paper copy somewhere for her to read later on down the road. It’s really inspiring how much and how well you love your kids – there’s so much time on the news and such devoted to describing all of the awful things that can happen, it’s so wonderful to read something like this.

  71. Lylah

    Happy Birthday, Chickadee!

  72. mike golch

    Mir,not only are you a great Mom(I nominate you for Mom of the year award)you are a greatneighbor that I enjoy visiting with.Happy Birthday Chickadee.

  73. Beachgal

    Wow. Happy Birthday Chickie! I’m bawling, that was so awesome.

  74. Pat

    Happy Birthday Chickie!! I have been reading your mom’s work for over a year now. And it took me until about 15 minutes ago to realize that we share a birthday. But you have the coolest Mom because she writes the most beautiful words to you. Many happy returns.

  75. kris

    Happy Birthday Chickadee!

    10 should be a fantastic year for you, with all of these well-wishes coming your way!

  76. Jenny

    Happy Birthday, Chickadee!!!!


    The Internet

  77. SheilaC

    Beautiful post. Turning 10 is a really special milestone – a whole decade! Have a wonderful day, Chickadee.

  78. Jabberwocky

    Happy Birthday Chickie!

  79. mamaspeak

    “How do you know, Mama? How do you KNOW I’m going to be amazing?”

    “Because you already are,” I whispered. I dropped a kiss into your hair while your smile curved up to meet me.

    A conversation I’ve already had on many occations w/my soon to be 5YO and you described it so well! Right up the smile, I only wish I could write half as well as you!

    Many happy returns to Miss Chickee! Have a fun day, a great year & here’s hoping that boy gives you just the right amount of attention in just the right way.

  80. Heather

    *sniffle* Happy birthday, Chickie!

  81. becky

    that was awesome. and darn you for making me cry just a little bit. my (step)daughter just recently turned 20. *sigh*

  82. David

    That was a beautiful Love Friday post, Mir.

    Happy Birthday, Chickadee!

  83. erma

    Happy Birthday, Chickadee!
    Absolutely wonderful post, Mir.

  84. Daisy

    Ten is a special age. I really enjoyed watching my daughter grow that year. Beanie babies and bras in the same shopping trip… so when will you post the cupcake pic?

  85. Kailani

    Let me know when you find a crazy deal on wireless mac keyboards…cuz gallon-drop tears shorted mine all to smithereens. That was an amazing post! You are good at what you do.

    Happy, Happy Birthday Chickie!!! You are loved.

    Kitty just turned 7 last week, and double digits scare me. But you can bet that when she turns 10, I am totally stealing your idea of 10 presents cascading down the stairs.

    (For her special day she got a copy of “101 Things You Gotta Do Before You’re 12!” If you haven’t seen it, check it out!)

    Now….go eat cake! ;o)

  86. Suebob

    Oh, you, you crying-maker you!

    Congrats to you and Chickie!

  87. carson

    Happy Birthday Chickie!

  88. Astrogirl

    Happy birthday wishes from the entire Bunker clan to Chickie! She sounds like an amazing kid – good job, mom (and Otto :)).

    We may be stealing the idea of a gift for each year of age – we’re always looking for new rituals to pass on to the Bunker Monkey.

    Anyway, wonderful wonderful birthday wishes, and many, many more!

  89. Cele

    Happy birthday Chickie, and to mom too, whose been there for the whole ride.

  90. Dave

    Dear Chickadee,

    Happy anniversary of existence. You’ve got an amazing mom.


  91. Jen

    Happy 10+1 day, Chickadee! And thanks for making me cry this morning, Mir! ;)

  92. Anna

    Happy Birthday Chickadee! This post made me teary too :)

  93. Her Bad Mother

    DUDE. I’m already messed up from hormones. Don’t do this to me.

    (beautiful, obvz.)

  94. elswhere


    Happy 10th anniversary (plus one day) of being a mom.

    It’s a trip, isn’t it?

  95. LiteralDan

    My son just turned 4 and I already feel this way– I can only hope to be as coherent and insightful as you were here next year, when he hits The Big 0-5.

    Happy Birthday, Chickadee!

  96. Shanti @ Antishay

    WAY TO RENDER ME TO TEARS! Oh, that is so beautiful :) Thank you!

  97. mamaspeak

    I’ve been thinking about this post all day & keep giggling at the thought of Chickadee’s answer about those being “stupid rules”. The reason I keep giggling is that I’m sure someday she’ll use this exact reasoning for why she should be able to stay out late on a school night or blow off class on the first beach-worthy spring day. Not that I’d know anything about that,I’m just saying…

  98. Jaime

    Happy Birthday Chickadee!!!

    fantastic post.

  99. kristi

    lovely, so so lovely.

    Happy belated birthday, Chickadee! Sounds like it was a perfect day!

  100. prophet

    beautifully observed. . . . thanks.

  101. Sylvia

    This is beautiful. I have a tear in my eye.

  102. Pamela

    **Sniffling here**

    This was beautiful. I’m sorry I’m a week late but Happy Birthday Chickie! 10 will be great!

  103. fairyhedgehog

    I am so not crying. It’s the wind.

    Hope the rest of the birthday went as well as the beginning.

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