Love is counting your favorite freckles.

Define love.

I know I can't do it, not in words anyway. 

Tonight I sat with her at the ocean, all wrapped up in her blanket, and all I could do was watch her move through expressions.  I get lost in watching her, wondering what she is thinking.

"Nothing, Mom", so I leave it at that and watch her some more.

She's quiet for the first while, watching the sea that I can hear crashing behind me. And as I look,  I know she finds the same peace in the ocean that I do.

People say she is like me, but that is not true at all. She is not like anyone and I am everything I am today because of who she has been for me. There are more stories in those eyes then I will ever be able to tell her, as she lies awake at night. She knows. 

I think that every mom wants to stop that clock so desperately at so many stages. I know that I have. But tonight, as we sat there, rested along the driftwood, I realized what an honor it is to watch such a phenomenal individual grow into her own.

It's humbling as a mother to be constantly learning so much from your child. She grounds me.  And when I need it most, she makes me laugh out of nowhere.

We went to the water tonight with her favorite new blanket, with a mission to get some photographs for the beautiful woman who handmade it for her.  But tonight as we left the beach, I left with far more than just photographs. Tonight I left with the realization that I have been gifted both a beautiful daughter in this life and a beautiful friend.

Ella Rhodes, age 8. Current freckle count: 1582