I was pregnant with her during my last year of residency, which means, she learned early to be a fighter. During the first year of her life, I adjusted to a new baby, a new marriage, a new job, and a new mortgage in a new town. I worked weekend nights as an ER doctor in a small town and stayed home with her during the week. I was able to nurse her until she was six months old, notwithstanding the four episodes of miserable mastitis, that tempted me to stop after 4 weeks.
She was always a spit fire. She cried for hours in the evenings and wouldn’t go to sleep unless I laid with her in her room every night. She rattled me and despite the fact that she was my third child, she pummeled my mothering self-esteem. I read books on parenting as fast as I could read them, but in the heat of her red-faced fits, nothing ever seemed to work.
But, oh was she charming.
She had gorgeous blond curly hair, which she twirled with one hand, while she drank her “chocolatey”, as she affectionately called her chocolate milk, in the other.
When she was four, we thought it might help her stubborn streak if we tried soccer.
During her first game, she stood in the middle of the field screaming bloody murder. The coach and I ran to her, hoping she that by the sound of her screams, she hadn’t ruptured internal organs, or some other such serious injury. When we asked her what was wrong, she said, “EVERYDODY’S JUST RUNNING SO FAST AND KICKING AND IT GETS ME MAD!”. Yes, my dear, that’s what they call soccer.
So, we took her to ballet and prayed she didn’t get kicked out.
Then, the years at home twisted both our hearts inside out. We fought and cried and stood our ground until we learned to give in and forgive and give our ground away.
Today, I couldn’t be more surprised and more proud of her tenderness. She’s quick to see her fault, quick to say I’m sorry, and always finding a reason to laugh. She LOVES babies and dogs and is so talented with her hands. She’s a dancer extraordinaire and has a creative streak a mile wide. All those years of stubborn heartache have come to this—to a thirteen year old who is full of grace.
I can’t remember my life before her. She has always been my girl. I was 22 years old when she was born, a mere babe myself, and I toted her to biochemistry with me when she was a week old. She went through a lot of schooling with me and now we study her nursing together and I can’t fathom how the years roll on. She is the girl with my smile and my eyes and the oldest one, who bears the brunt of my hard fought learning. We have had our share of heartaches, her and I, but the depths of what we have forged together through tears and loss and joy and laughter, can never be plumbed.
Her voice and her smile melt my heart and she has a way of knowing and forgiving that are way beyond her years. She has an old soul and a generous streak and incredible eyes.
She is the funniest girl, and yet, wise and discerning.
I am so blessed to be her momma, to share in her story, to watch as she grows into a woman full of grace.
These two middle girls of mine are similar in so many ways—it’s only fitting that their birthdays are together.
I pray they always lean on each other and learn early that there’s nothing in this world like a sister.
And I pray they learn live always from a place gratitude, eager to serve and love and forgive.
Happy Birthday, girls. You make me look like I know what I’m doing, when we all know that I’m just fumbling around in the dark, hoping and praying for grace.
May you stay forever young.
I love you,