A new era began for me today.
At 6:59 this evening, my baby girl turned twenty years old, ushering me out of a twelve year stint in that fun club, "Mother of Teenagers."
Now I belong to "Mother of Just Twenty-somethings." I think I'll stop keeping track after this. It makes me feel old.
I dropped her off in town last night so she could celebrate with friends. Who wants to hang out with old people on your 20th birthday? Tomorrow we'll do the chocolate cake and special dinner thing for her.
I'm having my own celebration tonight.... a night of reminiscing with my brother, getting to know the new love in his life.
But still, in the back of my mind, I'm thinking of where I was twenty years ago, holding that tiny pink bundle, relieved that my hours of labor were over and so happy to finally meet that little blue-eyed girl. Those hours of pain were totally worth the chance to hold her in my arms, though. I'd do it again in a heartbeat if I had to. The day she was born was a sweet, sweet day. And the past two decades have been packed with sweet moments, so many memories of a little girl that kept me hopping, that amazed me with her independence and self-confidence.
My twentieth birthday is a blur of twelve-hour shifts - I had to dig through old photos to trigger my memory. I found a handful of photos, depicting a brown-haired, smooth-skinned girl I barely remember...
...surrounded by people who loved her, although I doubt she knew the value of that love back then. Many of them are no longer in my life...
There are photos of me with my arms around Mam-ma and my ex-brother-in-law... one of me showing my quadriplegic brother Buster my gifts - a jewelry box and a set of knives for my apartment... one of me and my 24-year-old bearded, long-haired brother Donnie who is here with me tonight at the ripe old age of fifty-seven, clean-shaven and buzz-cut, who has come from the ashes of heartbreak to find new love.
So what do I tell my girl today? I think I'll tell her that life goes by quickly, to value these days and the ones who love her, because they're gone all too fast. I would tell her that life will be hard sometimes, but overall, life is really, really good. I would remind her that she comes from a line of strong women and not to worry about what's around the corner - she'll get through it just as they did, and she'll be able to find sweet moments every day, just as they did.
Just as I did two decades ago when I first looked into her sweet blue eyes. Just as I do now every time I look into her still sweet blue-green eyes.
Happy birthday, sweet baby girl!
"A daughter is the happy memories of the past, the joyful moments of the present, and the hope and promise of the future."