I guess there are just some birthdays that seem bigger than others.
They stand out for whatever reason. They strike a mama’s heart in a different way, with more severity.
The age they’re turning, it screams “older” more loudly than the other years.
That was this year for me.
It was deafening.
It was crazy!
How could my sweet girl be turning 9?!
This. Can’t. Be.
And maybe it had something to do with my girl’s limitations.
You know us special needs moms are always wishing that a year could be a little longer for our kiddos.
If they had a bit more time, then maybe they would catch up.
We’re certain a few more months would make all the difference.
If we could just slow the clock down long enough, then maybe their milestones would match their chronological age.
They would surely be physically independent, socially appropriate, and perform at grade level, with time on their side, right?
Honestly, what this year of turning 9 shouted most emphatically was that my daughter wasn’t really acting her age.
It can be a bitter pill to swallow.
It can cast dark shadows on the miracle this child is.
It can prevent you from enjoying the blessings this child brings.
It can rob you of thankfulness.
It can cause you to question God’s plan and purpose.
It can undermine your trust, and shake your faith in Him.
But, what if instead…
you threw all the charts, tests, graphs, and expectations out the door?
What if instead…
you loved this miracle child with all of your being?
What if instead…
you danced together in the rain and counted every drop a blessing?
What if instead…
you searched for the unique gifts this child possesses and overflowed with thankfulness?
What if instead…
you surrendered your ideas, the world’s expectations, and waited expectantly for God’s good and perfect plan for this child to unfold?
Lord, I trust your promises. I believe this child is exactly who You intended for her to be.
I know that Your ways are perfect. I know You work all things together for good. I know You desire to give individually what is best for each of us.
Lord, help me to stop comparing this child’s achievements to normal standards. I don’t want to see a child who isn’t measuring up.
I want to see this child through your eyes, Lord. I want to see a daughter of the King who is enough, who is perfect, just the way she is.
I don’t want to feel cheated…wishing or hoping for more.
I want to have only joy, Lord.
I want to celebrate Gabrielle Faith on this 9th birthday and cherish her completely with Your perfect love.
So yes, that’s exactly what we did!
Gabby awoke on her 9th birthday and I told her we were going on an “adventure to somewhere”.
She was thrilled.
I told her Makinley and Keagan would be joining us. They needed to pack their bags. We would be leaving after breakfast.
There was much excitement in the air. But you know, after two hours of driving and many erroneous guesses, the surprise factor begins to lose its glamour.
We were about 2/3 of the way there, when Makinley suggested this must really be “the trip to nowhere”.
I figured it was time to stop for lunch before this bunch grew any more disillusioned from a lack of leads and low blood sugar.
Gabby could eat there seven times a day.
It was chicken tenders, waffle fries, and sweet tea for my birthday girl.
With bellies full, we continued onward toward our destination.
They still hadn’t a clue. Not one of them.
We rolled up to the entrance and Keagan alone understood where we had arrived.
Gabby and Makinley were confused. Excited, but confused.
Because I had told them to bring along swimsuits, Kin was now certain we’d be swimming with the wolves.
I guess this could be a fun alternative to swimming with dolphins, no?
We received wolfie ears and Happy Birthday wishes upon our arrival! They were impressed.
After checking in, we stood by the elevator waiting to catch a ride.
Both Keagan and myself, fully expected the girls to notice the large windows across the way, boasting a view of all things water and fun.
We suggested they might want to take a gander, over there, in that direction.
When they did, there were exclamations, much jumping, and unbridled excitement.
We have to get changed so we can go and play, they insisted.
We found our room and whipped out the swimsuits.
We did all things water.
I think my favorite slides were the ones especially designed for toddlers.
Thankfully Gabby is more adventurous than yours truly.
She had an absolute blast!
Still, we had to stop for nourishment occasionally.
When you’re climbing about 80 steps per slide…
you develop some bigger quads and an insatiable appetite!
She loved the special show that night…
and story time with Brinley the Bear.
We took pictures over our Dunkin’ Donuts the following morning…
and then participated in the nature walk and pumpkin decorating.
Gab loved every minute of it.
After that, it was back to the water park!
Because, why call it a day when you can ride the Howlin’ Tornado one more time…
And almost lose your lunch?
And spend two hours wracked with nausea?
And wonder if you’ll ever make it home?
I’m not sure how I would have survived this trauma without Keagan-to-the-Rescue.
That girl can ride some rides.
And she carried some cheese for this sick mama.
The four of us had a wonderful stay at Great Wolf Lodge (mostly).
We created some super-special memories together.
But it was time to head back to the ranch for some more surprises!
Happy 9th Birthday,
Gabrielle Faith O’Melia!!
You are an absolute GIFT!
“Thank you, Mimi, for my purple bike.
It is awesome to be able to ride a bike like other kids.
I never thought I would be able to.” – Gabby, age 9