Has it REALLY been 15 years? Why yes it has, as hard as that is for me to believe. 15 years ago, today, I was giving birth to my first baby, who I just KNEW was going to be a rough and tumble boy. What I got instead was a little slice of heaven, the most delicate, expressive, wonderfully loving little girl a mom could ask for. Of course, Casey’s entry into this world wasn’t any of those things. I gained 55 pounds over the course of 42 weeks (for those unfamiliar with gestation, that is two weeks overdue) then when I finally DID go into labor (on Labor Day, no less) I huffed and puffed for 18 hours before being rushed down the hall to have that kid surgically extracted from the place she called home. Now that Casey’s a teenager, I could use that same team of doctors and nurses, maybe even the jaws of life, to remove her from her room at dinnertime.
Let me let you in on secret. I’ve been worried for the time when my sweet girl turns nasty, the easy communication we have now, replaced by the bitchy snippets that I used with my own mother at that age. It is a prospect that is both terrifying and heartbreaking to me. I’m happy to say, I don’t think it’s going to happen, at least it hasn’t happened yet and for that I am greatly relieved. There’s so much I love about that kid it would be impossible to list all of it here but, like her brother, here are a few things that come to mind.
CASEY IS WHIP SMART: There was a time when I could comfortably handle whatever homework she brought back from class. Not anymore. Is it wrong to say it makes my heart sing that she takes to math so well? Is it because I am so bad at it or because I know so many girls don’t get the support they need in that discipline? If she continues on, will she become a mathematician? A doctor? A scientist who finds a cure for cancer? Yes, maybe all of the above and more.
CASEY IS CREATIVE: Casey has always been an introspective child, comfortable spending time alone. She uses that time to beautify her space through her own creativity. Now, crayons and construction paper have given way to a sketchpad and pencils; together they lend insight into the kind of woman she is becoming. The picture that emerges on paper is beautiful; what we see in her soul, even more breathtaking.
CASEY IS RESPONSIBLE: My mother used to tell me I would have a child just like me and frankly that was scary as hell. By the grace of God that was not the first child. Honestly, if I hadn’t seen her minutes after birth, I would have sworn she emerged from the womb with an organizer in hand. She’s on top of her homework assignments without being asked, plans her own play dates and knows the requisite dress code for school activities. Casey’s also a self-policer. You know what I mean by that? She’s knows she disappoints me before I ever say a word. Unfortunately, she’s also much harder on herself than any punishment I would mete out.
CASEY IS A PEACEMAKER: You wouldn’t believe how many of her friends’ mothers have told me that when her girlfriends feud, as teens do, Casey is right in the middle of it; not as an instigator but as a peacemaker. Unlike her brother and mother who are shouters, Casey takes control using a velvet hammer; her soft voice and demeanor get the job done while being respectful of others. I adore that about her.
CASEY IS BEAUTIFUL: Now hang on, I’m not placing undue emphasis on looks. When I say Casey is beautiful I mean on the inside. Her gentle spirit is evident as soon as you lay eyes on her. She’s quiet and shy, at least initially, unlike her raucous brother. But don’t be fooled. Once she opens up, there’s no turning back. She doesn’t talk a lot, but what she says is important.
This was a big year for my baby girl because this was the year she outgrew me. It was coming; I saw it happening and was powerless to stop it. With her flowing hair and long limbs, I look at her and marvel that I had any part at all in someone like her. She teaches me daily how to be a better mother and I am so very grateful to be able to call her, daughter.
Happy Birthday Baby Girl!