It’s quite possible that the person that invented the phrase sweet sixteen meant it as an oxymoron. In my experience sixteen has a temper and is a little moody.
It’s May 17th and you, my birthday girl, my only girl, are exactly sixteen, and I love you even more now than when we first met. If you had told me that was possible in 2000, I would have not believed you. I know that I have a lot of posts about time flying, but in some ways, the bedrest pregnancy that preceded your birth feels more like it happened in another life time. I look back and wonder why I was in such a hurry. I look back and miss little you.
You are still you though, in so many ways. Messy and funny, animated and sensitive, thoughtful and intuitive, open minded, anxious, and just a wee bit hot tempered. You are the most social person I have ever met. Each time I have to pick you up at a friend’s house it seems like it is yet another friend I have never met. How many Grace’s can a girl know? The other day you asked me what I remembered about high school and I said “Nothing. I blanked all of that out. I hated high school.” You were incredulous. You said, “Well, I love high school.” In many, many ways you and I are different. You have a million friends. I have only a few close ones. You are athletic. I prefer not to move. You don’t like stew. I just, really? Who does not like stew?
Yet as you grow older, I see more and more of myself in you. When you walked down the stairs this weekend, Dad looked at me and said, “Kelly, who does she remind you of?” It took him awhile and then he said, “Oh. You. She looks like you when we met,” and then (because Dad is Dad) he added, “but, you know, with all my good parts.” Yeah, sigh. Legs for days was not from me.
Having you in my illustration class has been a love/hate relationship for both of us (mostly love). As the school year wraps up, just know how incredibly proud I am of the work you have created there. I am proud of all of your mistakes and truly in love with your successes. Recently you have started to talk about studying fashion design. When Grandma said, “It’s a super competitive field,” you answered, “I am competitive.” Even though I am not remotely an athlete, I see myself in that answer. I see myself in your dreams, your drive, your unwillingness to settle for second best. The only real birthday advice I know is to stay true to that self … just allow some room for error. Allow some room for belly flops. Continue to surround yourself with amazing friends … like the ones who know you are having a bad day and secretly drop off grocery bags full of chocolate ice cream and goldfish crackers on our doorstep. Surround yourself with that kind of love and you will always have a net to catch you on the days that perfectionism gets the best of you.
Thank you, baby girl, for letting me in. For crying to me, for laughing with me, for making me pee in my pants on our drives home from far away tournaments, for not just plugging into your headphones and shutting me out. The biggest gift you have ever given me is allowing room in our relationship for friendship. So, yeah, I miss little you, but I love teenaged you. As you travel the road into adulthood, know that every time my own heart beats, it sings your song.
Happy Birthday, darling girl. You light up my life.