The Fourth Child (Eleven)

With your first children, it’s easy. You schedule every detail about their birthdays, whether a party is planned or not. You cook them all their favorite meals. You wrap their presents two weeks in advance and buy special plates and napkins. You design a cake just for them.

With your fourth child, you have the energy to do that for several years and then . . .

And then you get to her eleventh (!) birthday, and you’re tired. You make the cake and buy presents, but those things aren’t really taken care of until the last minute. And meals? How about hot dogs and frozen french fries? You like those, don’t you? Great.

It’s a tough place to be in, that last child slot. And yet it’s not. Melina has the love and attention of five other people in the house, along with adoration from the dog (and perhaps the cats). She receives hugs from neighborhood children who go to her school and high fives from her friends. She gets to spend time with cousins from Illinois and family from Pennsylvania. And her actual birthday, being in the middle of summer, means that instead of trudging through cold and snow, she can enjoy the beauty of a hot, humid, July day.

So, while I felt a little behind this morning (even more so than last year), I quickly realized that my fourth child with the sunny disposition is in a great position in life and that no matter what I did today—like possibly take her shoe shopping—could ruin her day. Part of that is due to who Melina is: a particular, quirky, funny, somewhat resilient, always talking, interior design loving, now eleven-year-old wonder. And part is simply due to all the love that surrounds her.

I hope she knows as she moves into this new year just how lucky she is.

Happy Birthday, love.

Image of pink 11 by Alexander Ignatov from

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