When your first child is born, you enter a whole new world that you never existed before. It’s as if, in a split second, your entire universe suddenly expands exponentially, as you cradle your newborn in your arms. It’s a world of so many firsts, so many new roller coasters of intense emotions,  so many new paths to tread with trepidation and awe.

One of the “firsts” that blows your mind is the intense tiger-mother love that arrives in full force, and you cannot believe that you can unconditionally love another human being that you only just met. And then the firsts keep coming…. the first smile, first word, the first step that she takes in the library and you start squealing with delight and call your husband to tell him that our little girl just walked for the first time ever!

As the years go by, there are many more firsts…first bite of real food, first tooth lost, first day of kinder, then prep, followed by primary school.

And there comes a time when the “lasts” start to happen. The last time she really believes that it was the tooth fairy that left a coin under the pillow, or that the birthday fairy arrived in the dark hours of the night to put out the extravagant display of birthday gifts and tinsel.  Some of these lasts makes you want to reach into the annals of time and halt the end of an era of childhood traditions, like the last time she excitedly used the family apple tree to countdown the days until her birthday, or the last time she lets you give her a piggy back to bed.

Of course there are many lasts that cut deeper into your heart. Like the last time she lets you hold your hand as you walk through the school gate. Or the last time she willingly shares  everything that happened during the school day and you can see her holding back, putting up boundaries as to what she is willing to show you on the inside of her head and heart.

The thing is Evie, what I have come to realise as you transition between the early years of innocent childhood into the more independent and turbulent years of being a ‘tween-ager’, is that whilst we will say goodbye to parts of your life and experience quite a few “lasts”, there is a whole new world of “firsts” opening up. This year was the first time that you left the house on your own to walk Cino around the block. You attended your first ever school camp. You danced in your first ever solo competition and filled my heart with such a phenomenal sense of pride and joy, that it felt like I was watching you dance on the moon.

So for your 9thbirthday, I will look back, as I do for every birthday, and remember the year gone by when you were eight years old.  And as The Verve so truly sing, it really is a bittersweet symphony of life. There have been some tough parenting moments this past year, times when your dad and I felt that we no longer knew our little girl. But then I guess you are not so little anymore. And I do want to look back and  remember all these “lasts”. But more importantly, I want to look forward….forward to a whole new world of firsts as you shed layers of childhood and slowly enter your new world.  This is your 9-year-old world. It’s your world and your stage. I will merely be in the audience watching, but have no doubt that I will always be the one cheering the loudest for you.

I know the years ahead will hold more challenges. But I also see you are growing new wings. Whilst there will be many times that you fly away from me, I will always be here waiting when your wings return you home to my heart.

What I remember when you were 8….

I will never forget your 8th birthday and the squeals of pure delight when you received Arlee – your beautiful doll that you looked after like your own baby child.

Your love for dancing has no boundaries. I think if it were up to you, you would dance every day, every hour and every minute. This year you have taken part in so many competitions and performances. Whilst I sit in the audience with my heart beating nervously, I am amazed at your quiet and calm confidence as you perform on stage, with such poise and determination doing what you love best.

This was the year you started reading on your own all the time. Whilst there are still occasions you will let me read to you, you are quite happy to sit on your own and read the time away. I too love nothing better than losing myself in a good book and I love seeing you devour book after book. The only problem is getting you to go to bed when you keep saying “just one more page!”

Cino! What can I say, Your puppy was your birthday gift last year and I don’t think you ever knew that you could love an animal as much as you do. He has brought immense joy to our entire family, but especially you Evie….your new best friend, your ally, your comforter when you are feeling down and so much more. I was exactly your age when I got my puppy Smokey and he became my life long friend. To see this same relationship with you and Cino makes me happier than you will ever know.

When you were 8, you were a flower girl for the first time. I know this is a very biased comment, but I think you totally upstaged the bride as you walked down that aisle….your smile, your poise, your graceful beauty. You took my breath away and it is a moment I will never ever forget.

Your love of fluffy toys and dolls has certainly waned over the past 12 months. It feels like just yesterday that you were obsessed with your beanie boo collection. Nowadays, if Cino gets hold of one of these poor unsuspecting cuties and removes an eye or a nose, you barely bat an eyelid!

I love that you still engage in pretend play. Whether it’s putting Arlee to bed, setting up a shop or any other make believe, I hope it is something that will always be a part of you. This pure childhood play has become less and less over the past year, and I prey it never totally disappears. In some way this escapism from reality will become even more important as you grow up and need to deal with some harsh realities of life. Having a make-believe world for your mind and body to escape will always help you recharge your batteries.

Coles Minis! The craze that took over the nation infected our household too. I think I secretly enjoyed it as much as you; the anticipation as you tore open the plastic wrapping to see what you would find inside. And who could forget the time spent on Facebook groups looking for “swops” to hep you get your full set.

And then the bracelet craze that lasted all of about 2 seconds. You were desperate for all the yarn to make your own bracelets and of course as soon as I forked over my hard earned cash, the latest craze seemed to disappear and the lonely yarn sat waiting to be unravelled. It’s these little moments of your 8-year-old life I will remember.

Slime! This sticky, gooey pastime is your favourite thing to make when you have friends over for a playdate. Luckily after so many slime sessions, I have learned the fine art of ensuring no food colouring and gooey mess is left all over your clothes and the house.

I wish I had dollar for every time you have left these drawers in your playroom open. No matter how many times I nag, I always find them like this. Whilst this is an irritation today, will I look back in years to come when there are no more playroom drawers with small pink scissors and arts and crafts to create anything the mind can imagine, and wish that someone could leave these drawers open once again?

For the past 4 years you have learned to play the piano. You have been lucky enough to have the most incredible teacher who gifted you a love for this beautiful instrument. From receiving honours with distinction for your first exam to the many recitals you have been part of, I have loved watching you develop and mature as a piano player. Just a couple of months ago you decided you didn’t want to play anymore. I could tell your heart was not in it for a while and whilst I was very disappointed, I did not disagree with your decision. I do hope you take it up again in the future as I love watching and listening to you play and it is an instrument you can enjoy for life. But if not, I will nonetheless always treasure and never forget your piano years.

As you have neared another year around the sun there have been some physical and emotional changes. You are becoming a more discerning dresser with very specific tastes of your own and a typical Melbourne fashion keenness for the colour black. But whilst your body may be growing up there are still child-like attributes. Just last week you lost another baby tooth (the first in over 2 years!) and you still sometimes need the kitchen stool to reach the counter.

Your fierce independence is growing at a rapid pace. Whether it’s the little things like brushing your own hair and refusing to let me do it….or insisting you walk in by yourself to your dance class, I feel myself becoming more redundant. I know this is a good thing and exactly how your life is meant to unfold, but I cannot deny that it is hard for me to let go.

As the setting sun kisses your head on yet another birthday, part of me doesn’t want the day to end. For tomorrow you will be one day older, and then before I know it, you will be grown up. I want to steal from time. To savour these moments that slip through my fingers like water. I will continue to pickpocket father time’s deep memory and keep for myself these shining moments of treasure that I will love, as much as I will always love you, forever and ever.

A 9 year old birthday interview (127cm tall)

Who is your best friend?  Jazi & Amber

What is your favourite subject at school?  Lunch time

What is your favourite colour?   Aqua

What is your favourite food? Cake

What do you want to be when you are bigger? A dancer

What makes you happy?  Dancing

What makes you scared? Nightmares

What is your favourite book?   Diary of a wimpy kid

If you could have one super power, what would it be? To fly

What would you like to learn to do? To do an aerial

What do you think is the most important job in the world? A doctor

What type of music do you like? Pop

What is something important that your parents have taught you? To save your money and not spend it all at once

What is something important that a grandparent has taught you (which one)? That I know more than grandparents

Where do you like to go on the weekends? Totally Game

Do you have a favourite memory? When me, Zarah and Freya talk in hoopla

If you had three wishes, what would they be? 1) Travel the world being  dancer 2) To have an endless pit of money 3) To have my birthday every day

If you could change anything about the world, what would it be? No rules

What is something you are really good at? Dancing

What is something you would like to be able to do better? How will you do this? Multiplication. I will practise

What is the best thing about being a kid? You don’t have to pay for as much stuff as an adult

What is one goal that you would like to achieve when you are 9 years old? Do a backwards walk over