February 08, 2006

My Baby Girl's 16th Birthday

Once upon a time, I thought adding babies to my family no longer would happen. I had three. My husband had vasectomy. Yeah I wanted a fourth but believed there would be no more babies in my life…at least not until grandchildren.

I was wrong. Now, I am a mom to 6 or so, depending who I count. Of those, one more is my baby. No, I didn’t give birth to her. (Though some days/weeks/months it may have seemed like it). I didn’t even meet her until she was almost ready to start sixth grade.

She turned 16 today.

Let me tell you about my Michelle. Goodness knows, I comment long and hard enough about her at work and to anyone else who will listen. I am tremendously proud of this baby.

When we met, I knew that I would have to come in fourth after her and her siblings. I respect that. I expect the same of her mother.

I didn’t expect Michelle. I expected some child that was the embodiment of all the cool kids in my junior high. She was going to be the cheerleader, put-together, friends out the door, busy life, phone ringing non-stop, popular; amalgamation of my own girlhood hero (or anti-hero). I found underneath the myth of together young teen, a different child altogether. She was a girl I understood. I had been that girl even.

Michelle and I went our rounds. My finding a place in her life probably never would have had a perfect introduction. My finding a place when I did…well, I think the odds were not with us. I am not going to ramble about the finding that place really (or even the girl she was) in this post.

I am going to tell you about the girl who has grown into to steal a trite phrase “a lovely young woman.”

Most every day she seems more grown-up, more responsible, more ready to leave us. Then the next she is a child again.

She is discovering the world. She likes a good bit, she has issues with other things. Michelle is an idealist with high expectations of herself, of others, of the world. She tends to spend a lot of time on things being fair. It frustrates her that none live up to it. As she sorts out expectations, reality, plans, all those things that growing up girls do, I am forever amazed at how well she does the sorting. She also spends a lot of time on art of one sort or another. She does those creative things really well.

Talking to her is often a joy as she pulls the flipside of what you meant, plays with it and turns it back. (much like her mother). She isn't going to let go of anything she stubbornly believes but she will change her mind from time to time.

She has public poise and confidence. Yes, I know it is a lot of acting and she hasn’t yet figured out that all those she admires for that same poise are faking it until they make it.

More than all of those things, the thing she hid the best from me for a long time is just how much she cares. She loves her mom. She loves her older siblings. She loves me. She even loves those kids I brought into her family, her younger siblings. She is protective of them. She teaches them important things. She steers them from trouble.

Of course, she will hotly deny each/all of the things I have said.

She is growing up excessively fast, this baby of mine. I had my points where I worried about what kind of grown up she would be. Now, I don’t.I am just thankful I have a fourth baby who has taught me more than anyone else about girls, young women, and being a mom to a big kid. I love my baby girl, this baby girl, and I am glad that this once upon a time has come to a happily ever after, not easy, not smoothly but definitely a happily ever after.


Roye said...

Nice, really really nice. I'm obviously not around her nor do I feel like I know her so it's nice to see your take on her.

I'm glad that the two of you are finding your way together, and I'm glad that you're proud of her for the lovely young woman she's becoming.


Emsxiety said...

Happy Birthday and what a great posting about your daughter. I love reading your birtday posts about or to your children.

SwampHag said...

What a lovely tribute to a 'lovely young woman'. You're each lucky to have the other in your life.