My daughter, our first-born, turned eight yesterday and it’s got me thinking, particularly about how much my thinking has changed since 2004.

I used to think about “the kind of daughter” I wanted to raise. How could I have ever dared to define another spirit? Instead, our daughter has brought us the spectacular gift of herself, beyond any dream or fear or expectation.

This child is, thank God, utterly and fiercely herself. Even though many days her peculiarities fray me raw, I pray to never stop feeling grateful for and protective of them.

I can forecast the (not so far-off) storm approaching between her desire to fit in and her desire for uniqueness. The thunder that will roar as the super-heated air of her lightning personality collides with the cooler atmosphere of her peers will be mighty.

And then sometimes she is still such a little girl, loving a doll or playing dress-up at a museum. I try to remember to stay in Today, and not get too caught up in the whirling eddies of Little Girl Past and Tweenager Future.

I used to think I would raise my kids. By now, through so many missteps, mistakes, and meditation, I’ve learned the truth. We are, instead, raising each other, ever higher along the way.

This newly eight-year-old is so smart and so sensitive and so strange, she teaches me every day the extent to which I don’t know anything.

I used to fear that. Not anymore.