Two weeks ago our oldest daughter became a teenager. Just typing that sentence makes me a little weepy. Thirteen years. Seems like a lifetime, and also, just like yesterday. My Gracie girl made me a mama when she entered this world with a full head of black hair on a cold March afternoon. She considers nothing about her birth “special”. She knows that Brady was born right after their biological dad died, and that Abby was born with a disorder that sent us all into crisis mode. I, however, am so grateful that the ordinariness of her birth gave me one birth experience, that was not cloaked in grief and tragedy or a fight for survival. She was that one child, that allowed me to have a “normal” experience with a newborn. That is special. Amazing. She may only realize when she herself becomes a mother what a miracle that is.
Gracie came five days early. I was not prepared. All of her clothes were washed and dried. There were diapers for days and enough baby lotion to last two years. Her nursery was done and absolutely adorable. But, I was not prepared. I was not prepared for the way my world would be ROCKED by a screaming, needy, hungry, pooping and puking little human. I was not prepared to love that tiny human so much my heart felt as if it would burst right out of my chest.
The dichotomy of motherhood. You LOVE them so much it hurts even when they exhaust every single ounce of energy you have. You love them when they look up at you in the middle of the night after blowing out a diaper AND they are ready to eat AGAIN. You still think they are the greatest thing EVER. At least I did. Gracie was a needy baby, but oh my goodness, she was SO funny as a toddler. So smart. Her vocabulary was just stupid big at such a young age. She didn’t like naps. She didn’t require a ton of sleep. She LOVED her people and was not super keen on anyone else. She can still be that way. She had the cutest little pig tails and big blue eyes. And the questions. ENDLESS questions. She was a bossy little thing and still can be quite the mother hen. She was into EVERYTHING. My mom would say, “she’s like a maggot in hot ashes.” She always said the same about me. Boundless energy. Boundless curiosity.
She and I endured my first husband’s cancer diagnosis and eventual death, together. She was two, but she understood far more than your average two-year old. She got away with a TON because the most important thing during Brad’s illness was to keep HIM comfortable. That meant she got bribed often and mostly got her way to keep her “behaving” and quiet. You can’t be your best self when you are living in survival mode, and I was definitely not my strongest self during that time in regards to shaping a tiny human to not be a brat. So much fun to undue that behavior once the time came when I could consistently discipline her. That girl could and still can make her case like a trial lawyer. However, she is no longer a brat. Praise Jesus.
My mom always said that she would never go back and relive any of our childhood stages. That she always loved and cherished the one we were in at that present moment. I get that. I do. If I could go back just one day and hold each of my babies, snuggle them, read to them, it would be hard to resist that. But, you couldn’t pay me a million dollars to start all over again. No way. I love the ages they are now, and a large part of me LOVES that Gracie is a teenager. THIS stage, more than any other stage is in my wheelhouse.
Before I became a stay at home mom, after our last child was born, I was a high school Social Studies teacher. I spent my time in college studying to teach teenagers. I spent six years of my life coaching teenagers on the volleyball court and eight years of my life teaching them in a classroom. I do really love this age. They are old enough to start thinking about what they realistically want to do with their lives. They understand things in a way they didn’t before. You can use sarcasm with them, and they actually get it. Then they use it right back and it’s not always so funny. Ha!
In some ways, as much as I have dreaded her growing up because the time we have with them is so fleeting, I feel like I have been waiting for THIS time with her. This time where we can really dig in and talk about hard stuff. Issues. School drama. Future plans. Where she can come home and tell me about how awkward health class was and I can laugh at the faces she makes as she’s talking. I love that we can now share shoes and jewelry. I love that she wants my opinion on clothes and purses. I love listening to her play the piano and I love watching her compete on the volleyball and tennis courts. I adore her quirky spirit, her love of cats and her witty sense of humor. I love that she is growing into a beautiful young woman in front of our very eyes. I love that I have a front row seat.
The days are long, but the years fly right on by. I’m going to soak up every second I can with my girl. My teenager. And, I’m going to pray. A lot.
As always, thanks for reading.