A portrait of a happy red head girl smiling by Kuala Lumpur based photographer, Erica Knecht

She turned eight yesterday, my baby girl. This unknowable force of life who I did knew even before she was born is eight years here. I'm eight years a mother. We're eight years a family.

 She’s tender, my girl; the underside of a dove, but tucks it away, cloaks it in iron, in fire. She’s steadfast in her wants, wild like the ocean. She wants to be a fashion designer, and artist, a singer. She has perfect pitch, and she sings at the top of her voice. She moves with the grace of a dancer, but prefers kung fu lessons. She comes alive in the water. She’s sure and unwavering. She’s a deep feeler. She has the best social radar I’ve ever known. 

This past year has been one of bloom. The more space I give her, the more she shows she’s capable. She gets up on weekend mornings and listens for Lyra to cry out. She lifts her out of the crib, and carriers her into the living room. She changes Hugo out of his pull up. She fixes them breakfast and entertains them till the grownups rise. She apologizes unprompted. She offers to read to her brother. She looks for Hugo over the gate at school, and gives him her snack when she sees him at recess. 

She’s weathered this move mostly effortlessly. She has been braver than I know how to be. She went to school, gulped back tears, and entered the classroom without me. She came home with two new friends, and about three centimeters of hight.

I dreamt this child before she was born, hair flames of curl and swirling with energy. She came into the world an enigma, and has puzzled me ever since. Of all my children, she’s the one over whom I’ve fretted most, never sure what was going on inside her mind, always worried I was failing her in some capacity. It was this girl, her fire and intensity that pushed me as a parent, forced me to begin thinking outside existing paradigms of childrearing. She drew me to question and wonder and consider and think deeply about what she needed, and what I needed to parent well.  She taught me patience. She taught me stillness. She taught me curiosity. She taught me and is teaching me non-judgment. She brought healing of old wounds because she more than my others has needed a whole and present parent. 

The older she gets the more interesting she becomes. And I look forward with my ribs wide open to who she'll grow into.

A red head baby on a white bed in Fukuoka, Japan, by Kuala Lumpur family photographer, Erica Knecht.
A young girl with red hair swims at the W hotel Nusa Dua by Kuala Lumpur Photographer Erica Knecht.
A young girl in at the pool at Grand Hyatt Jakarta by Kuala Lumpur based photographer Erica Knecht.
A little girl runs on the beach near Lovina, North Bali. Photograph on Portra 400 film by Erica Knecht, a Kuala Lumpur based Photographer.   
A little girl stares out at the ocean in Lovina, Bali by Kuala Lumpur photographer Erica Knecht
A girl wades into the ocean near Byron Bay, Australia by Kuala Lumpur photographer Erica Knecht
A reflection of a girl running on the beach at twilight near Byron Bay, Australia by Kuala Lumpur family photographer Erica Knecht.
An artistic black and white portrait of a little girl by Kuala Lumpur based photographer Erica Knecht