Sweet Sixteen

Tonight at dinner, we talked about Grace’s birthday, which is tomorrow. She said that she thinks birthdays are more for the mom than the kid. Kids don’t remember when they were born, but moms do. Kids don’t remember all the years of their lives, or even notice time passing, but moms do. I think my sixteen year old daughter is wise beyond her years. Although, at the moment, she still has just a few hours left of being fifteen. At this time sixteen years ago, in the dark and lonely hours of the night, I was breathing shakily through lips that quivered, while sitting on a bouncy ball at the end of my bed. With my hands outstretched before me on the bed, in an effort to keep those hands from tensing up, my husband gently caressed one and my best friend tenderly held the other. My dad was asleep on my living room floor, and my mom and mother-in-law sat quietly waiting on the bedroom floor. My future sister-in-law was capturing every moment on video, in the hope that each contraction might be the one we were waiting for. The midwives readied the supplies while speaking encouragements and I focused on letting my body do what it was made to do.

Tonight, sixteen years later, I reminisce. The years are so clear and yet so cloudy. My little girl who has always loved to cuddle and has never lacked in confidence and has never known the lyrics to songs even though that has never stopped her from making up her own lyrics, has not changed one bit and yet I do double-takes all day long wondering who this young woman is in my house. You would think I’d be used to it by the third daughter, but I never get used to it. There is no getting used to it.

When we chose her name, sixteen years ago, I remember thinking that there could be no negative connotations with Grace. It’s a beautiful word and there can only be beauty and goodness associated with it and that was what we wanted for our littlest daughter. Little did we know how much laughter would be associated with it as well. She has entertained us her entire life with alter-egos that have their very own voices, purposeful mispronunciation and misuse of words, insisting that she has seen famous people in the most unlikely of places, and yelling “I’m okay!” as she’s in the middle of falling because she seems to have inherited her mother’s affinity for throwing herself around without considering the consequences until it’s too late. This was her bedtime prayer one night at six years old: “Dear God, thank you that I didn’t die today and I hope I don’t die tonight. Or the next day. I mean, I know I have to die someday, I just hope it’s not today or tonight or the next day.”

Happy birthday, Geesie Pie. You’ll always be my baby.