I am aware that my three most recent pieces have been about birthdays. I promise that I am working on other pieces. Time has gotten away from me this summer and I haven’t had many opportunities to sit down and write in peace. So in an effort to keep things timely and current, you get this before you get my next non-birthday post. Deal with it. 😉
Twelve years. It’s been twelve years since you came into this world and forever changed me. For me, these twelve years have flown by at a ridiculously unfair speed. For you, though, I’m sure that they have dragged on painfully, as you wait impatiently to hit each milestone in your life. I remember what it was like to be twelve, despite what you prefer to believe, so I know how desperately you want to grow up and spread your wings. The time will come, dear girl. Sooner than you realize.
I probably don’t need to sit here and rehash your childhood because we talk about it a lot, but I am going to do it anyway.
At 21 years old, I was terrified of giving birth. I mean, we’re told from the very beginning how painful and exhausting it is, so who wouldn’t be? But when you’re 8 months pregnant, there’s no way around it. The baby has to come out somehow. But much to my surprise, it wasn’t nearly as awful as I expected. And I’m pretty sure that after you were born, I said something along the lines of “If having a baby were always this easy, I’d do it everyday!” Of course I changed my tune three years later, but that’s another story.
Since I got lucky with such a smooth delivery, one might think that I would end up challenged by a fussy or otherwise high needs baby. But no. You were perfection. The model baby. Aside from some issues nursing, you made adjusting to life as a mother a total breeze. You spoiled me with your easygoing personality… you slept well, you were content to be held by anyone or not held at all, you were happy and cherubic and completely lit up the room around you.
And because you were such an easy and mellow baby, one might think that your toddler years would be hell. Quite the contrary. Sure, you went through a short period where you made your displeasure known through temper tantrums, but they were brief and infrequent. And that phase passed within about six months. As opposed to, ya know, the 2+ years of defiance that your little brother has inflicted upon me. So as a toddler, you were about as easy as they came.
Yet again, because you cut me some slack during your toddler years, one might expect a challenging little girl. Sassy or whiny or demanding. Nope. You were polite and well-spoken and sweet as sugar. You charmed each person you met. And you weren’t just an angel in public, you truly were a wonderful child all the time. You made me look like I deserved the award for Mother of the Year.
So because you were a purely angelic little girl, one would assume that you would become difficult as you grew into a young lady. And in that, they would be correct.
But dear daughter of mine, you are difficult in all the right ways.
You are independent. You are confident. You are strong-willed. You are sharp as a tack. You are ambitious. You are passionate. And most importantly, you are fierce.
The world doesn’t often see a kid like you. But the world needs more kids like you.
Don’t get me wrong, you’re not perfect. You’re pretty damn selfish and teaching you humility is an ongoing effort. You are a little too blunt and just because you don’t get your feelings hurt easily, it doesn’t mean that other people don’t. You don’t realize how much your words can sting. You don’t know when to just take your toys and go home. This is, of course, a euphemism because you haven’t played with toys in years. You complain… A LOT. You often forget that you are the daughter and sister and not the parent.
But you know what? I can accept and work with all of these things if it means that I get to keep the rest of you.
At twelve, your relationship with me and pretty much everyone else is tedious. Hormones and emotions are sinking their teeth into you and your moods are volatile. This isn’t your fault, we’ve all been there. And even though you think I don’t understand you or “know what your life is like”, I do. I remember all too well. Sometimes I’m your best friend, but five minutes later, you can’t stand the sight of me (and I don’t like you very much, either). You don’t know this (even though I’ve told you over and over), but one day, we will actually be friends. And one day, you and your little sister will be friends. We will all appreciate one another and be able to recall stories of days gone by… the good and the bad.
But at twelve, you don’t care about any of that. You care about going to amusement parks with your friends or nailing your back handspring. You care about traveling to Atlanta so that you can visit the zoo and finally meet the twin pandas who share a birthday with you. You care about perfecting the bun on your head and getting your eyeliner just right. You care about using the right filter on Instagram and how many likes your photo gets. You care about seeing Melanie Martinez and Panic! At the Disco in concert with your best friend, Norah.
And that’s okay. Because you’re twelve. And those are the things that you’re supposed to care about.
So thank you for being the soul that I get to love for the rest of my life. Who I get to look at and think “I made that”. For making me proud every day.
Happy 12th Birthday, love. Enjoy this year and every year after. And I can’t wait to spend as many of them with you as possible.