grown

I’m writing these words for someone who may never see them.

Our firstborn turned eighteen today. A legal adult. Technically free to leave and go about her business.

She’s got one toe out the door. What she’s doing after graduation in 8 weeks is not quite decided – she may be going away to college or staying here for community college.

It’s a little surreal to think that this little person who’s been living with you for 18 years is now old enough to be on her own. I can’t quite wrap my head around it. I can remember being 18, for crying out loud.

So before she leaves, here is what’s rambling around in my head.

Whether you leave for school in September or stay here, this is your home. No matter what happens where you are, you can always come back. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can bail the second things get hard. Stick it out. Don’t take the easy path. Make it mean something.

You’re not done growing – we never are. There will be some big challenges coming up. You won’t succeed at all of them. That’s not always the point, anyway. Sometimes what you learn by failing is more important than succeeding.

Try new things. I wish I had. There will be so many opportunities for new adventures. Take advantage of them. If it’s not your thing, that’s cool. At least you’ll know and your pot of experiences will make you more interesting.

Be flexible. I know that’s hard for you. Sometimes the joy is in the unexpected and unplanned. Learn to like surprises.

Trust your gut. Make smart choices, especially when your safety is at risk. Don’t have 8 shots in 45 minutes at a party.

Admit when you’re wrong. It takes a big person to apologize. Be sincere.

BE ON TIME. It shows others you respect them and their time.

Do it right the first time. This isn’t high school anymore. You won’t be able to talk your way out of late assignments.

Balance your bank account. For the love of god. Save some money every time you get some. I wish I had been better about that along the way.

Hoochie is not classy. Start buying quality now.  Yoga pants are NOT pants. Dress like you respect yourself.

Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Avoid the comments – they will crush your soul.

Please be a Democrat. If you aren’t, don’t tell me.

The work that you think you’d like to do now is probably what you’d like to do 25 years from now. It’s true for me, yet I didn’t follow that path. I wish I had. Of course, if I had, I might have hated it, so who knows. See above re: flexible.

Put down the freaking phone. See what’s going around you. Be still sometimes. Let your mind wander. Be grateful for something, one thing, every single day.

And about that phone: those pics you’re always posting? They’re still out there. Be aware.

Surround yourself with people who are worth it. Let the toxic ones go even though it may hurt.

Finally. Life is really damn short. It seems now like it will last forever and you have all the time in the world. Trust me – you don’t. You will be pushing 50 before you know it, wondering what happens now. If you’re really lucky, you will have a partner who is your best friend. I selfishly hope there are grandbabies (but NOT for a good ten years). It won’t be perfect and it will take work, and sometimes it will be harder than you think you can manage. You can.

Above all that, you’ll have me and Dad and your little brother who’s bigger than you behind you all the way. We can’t wait to see what happens next.

(When the tears come, I know the words are right.)

Happy birthday.

 

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fifteen

Huh. Seems I didn’t write a post for the Girl Child’s 14th birthday last year. She turned 14 anyway, and now here we are at 15. Already.

Which also means that I have been a mom for 15 years. Those baby days are so far behind me, it’s hard to recall what they were like. I see photos and am reminded of points in time, but the people in them (myself included) seem like strangers or maybe people I once knew.

We took the kids out of school for one day last week to get away early for spring break. The Girl Child’s high school frowns upon this sort of thing, calling them “unexcused absences”. Which I think is silly.  When it comes down to it, the trip we took will be remembered far longer than missing one day of school. And at this stage in the game, family trips like that will be farther and fewer between.

Time in these crucial years is running out and I admit to a bit of panic. What if I’ve been doing it all wrong?

There has been yelling. And impatience. Frustration. Waiting for the bad times to pass. Meanwhile maybe missing some good moments along the way.

A big regret – not enough hugs as the kids get older. My own fault, falling back into the routine I grew up with. I need to change that while I still have a few years.

But there has also been big love, even when we aren’t each other’s favorite person. Silliness. Saying I’m sorry. Encouragement. Growing inside and out. Tolerance and acceptance. Pride.

Fifteen is a tricky one. Just on the cusp, more adult edging out the kid. Needing to let the adult out to make decisions, letting her see where her choices take her while so wanting to protect her, especially in this crazy new world. It’s not my fifteen.

And it never will be. This is HER world now. I will still be there to cushion where I can, nudge when I need to – sometimes even a strong PUSH. But maybe the best thing I can do now is sit back and wait, spot her a little, and clap the loudest and proudest at her successes.

And I know there will be many.

Happy Fifteen.

photo booth, circa 1999

photo booth, circa 1999

thirteen

The Girl Child turned into a teenager today.  Holy crap.  She is getting to the age that I can remember being (not being like Lefty, who can probably remember things from the womb). Like her,  I can remember planning out wardrobe pieces, though I didn’t have the interweb to assist me.  Specifically, a burgundy corduroy blazer when I was her age. But I digress.

In honor of the big 1-3, thirteen words and wishes for my girl baby…

  • Dream.  Dream big and reach for them.  You have the power.
  • Be kind.  Life is short enough as it is.  Don’t waste a minute of it being mean, or with people who are mean.
  • Stripes and patterns do go together.  Mix it up.
  • Widen your gaze.  What’s right in front of you isn’t always all there is.
  • Try.  Yes, you might fail. But what if you don’t?
  • Listen.  To a friend who needs you, to people who have something to teach, to your heart.  Especially to your mom.
  • Laugh.  It makes everything brighter.  It makes the wrinkles worth it.
  • Make your bed.  If that is clean, it makes the rest of the mess less obnoxious.
  • Write.  Don’t forget that gift. Texting does not count.
  • Work hard.  The easy way out is usually the hardest in the end.
  • Stop.  Take a minute once in a while and just stop.  Remember the moment.  How things smell and taste.  How you feel. The people.
  • Family.  We love you.  And you are lucky enough to have friends who may not be related by blood, but are family nonetheless.
  • Love.  All I really want for you is to know you are loved, and someday find your own love.  To have nothing but peace and joy and happy ever after.

I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.  Happy birthday, baby girl.

first day of kindergarten, with my first day photo

girl child

12 years ago today, at 8:20 in the morning after 8 hours of labor, out came the girl child.  She had a ton of hair the nurses coiffed tall and high so they could show her off.  Named after a sassy 60’s star and her grandmother, she has been the bane and joy of my existence ever since.

We brought her home from the hospital, set her on the floor in her car seat next to the bewildered cat, and wondered what to do next.  She turned out to be a cranky little thing for the first few months, and just as we were starting to think we’d made a big mistake, she smiled (and it wasn’t a gassy smile).  Game over.   So we kept her.

Kept her even when she had meltdowns in the middle of stores, necessitating the swift abandonment of any items and prompt removal from the premises.  Kept her even when she would pee on the floor 20 seconds after saying she didn’t have to go.  Kept her even after she cut a big, fat chunk out of her baby brother’s hair and locked him in the bedroom. Alone.   Requiring the assistance of a locksmith to the tune of $100.

Keeping her meant I could tickle the beejesus out of her and hear that chortle that makes my skin tingle.  Meant I could see that hair turn the color of the palest gold and turn grown ladies jealous.  Meant I gritted my teeth and said nothing when she was creating her latest concoction of food and science, which would be rediscovered in the freezer months later.  Meant I could hear her teachers say what a pleasure she was to have in class, despite the talking.  Meant I could watch her discover a joy of writing and making things I would never think of.

This is a new era we’re about to begin – the teenage era.  So far we’ve had our share of hormonal episodes and we’ve still got some years to go.  But there’s also been some blossoming into the person she will become – the one who hears her own music and is rocking her own style, the one who writes stories about her classmates and teachers that circulate the school, whose science teacher says she is full of creativity and originality (despite the talking).  The one who is kind and full of big ideas.  The one whose shine and magic grows ever brighter.

Being her mom can be a challenge for sure, but I’m the lucky one to have ended up with her.  Especially if she makes a ton of money as a writer and gets that mansion with a room for me like she promised.  Happy birthday, baby girl.