She’s Sweet Sixteen

She’s finally up — before noon, I might add. When you’re a teenager, summer birthday mornings are for sleeping in as late as possible.

Even later than your older brother, apparently.

Sixteen. She says it, the calendar says it too… but my mind can’t wrap around the idea that my 6-pound baby girl has lived most of her time with us already. That while I have felt the past 16 years slide through my fingers she has used them to their full advantage.

She’s kind. She’s funny. She is smart and determined. She cares about her friends and her pets and her family.

She’s a little bit him and a little bit me, but she has always been very much her own person.

And there is a certain spark about her that stuns me, something I can’t quite put my finger on. It feels like she radiates joy and energy and peace, and at times I can’t get enough of just having her near me.

I guess that’s how all moms feel.

When I am distracted by her piercing blue eyes I find myself wondering what’s going on in her head. But mothers of teen girls know we dance on a thin line between comforting and being nosy. And that when they really need us, they will let us know. That asking “What’s wrong?” actually pushes them further away sometimes.

I am trying, sweet girl. I really am.

We traveled together this past spring, just the two of us. And I had glimpses of the relationship we would have one day soon, when she won’t need my permission to go see friends or my questions about homework or chores. When she will shed the blanket of my mothering and start living life on her own.

When she’s an adult who chooses whether or not to spend time with her mom.

We laughed, walked, swam, watched the sunsets, ordered room service pizza and just let ourselves be comfortable together. I didn’t dole out advice or correct her manners in the restaurant. I listened to her, really listened, as if I had just met her for the very first time.

And my heart was so full. Just like that day 16 years ago when the nurse handed her to me and announced that we had a girl. Back then I already knew that our time would be short — but from my vantage point now it seems a cruel joke that parents really only have 18 years to get it right.

I can deal with that. If you promise to ignore me when I stare at you, still trying to see that tiny baby girl inside. To let it slide when I kiss the top of your head or call you a pet name in public. To understand that when you are away from home a small piece of my heart is always with you.

To understand that a mother never really stops mothering.

We just upgrade to the new version.

Happy Birthday, sweet girl.

Have a wonderful year.


Kelli and Mom


  1. “lived most of her time with us already” …..sigh.
    Big heaving sigh.
    She is beautiful and I swear you look like sisters.

  2. I feel every word of this, Sherri. It is bittersweet, this loving and launching thing. But, we are oh so lucky, aren’t we?

  3. That was beautiful and made me teary. My 3 daughters are all grown up with children of their own and I still look for my baby girl in their eyes.

  4. Both of you, so beautiful! I loved reading this, Sherri.

  5. Oh, this is so beautiful. Seriously. My goodness. I’m loving every single word. My daughter is only seven, so I can see your experience in my future and just hope for so much love and strength.

  6. Having a 16 year old I am nodding to every sentence! The time is slipping away so very fast and we are treasuring family moments knowing they are soon to be scarce. Beautiful photo of you both,

  7. This brought tears to my eyes. My eldest is turning nine. I am planning his ninth birthday party. There is no theme, not goody bags, no fancy cake (he doesn’t like cake!) It’s a bunch of boys going to play laser tag and then sleeping over. I’m so proud of who he is becoming, and yet I long for the days when I could hold him in my arms, sway him softly, sing him a lullaby. My youngest is now three, and has finally outgrown his crib. It’s all so bittersweet….

  8. This is so beautiful, Sherri. Happy sweet 16 to your amazing daughter!

  9. DANG, but I love a good birthday post.
    Hope her day was beautiful and that you are savoring these last few years with her under your roof. I know you are.

    I am just now beginning to feel this connection with Karly, where she is a young woman not my baby.

    I mean, she’ll always be my BABY.
    But now I see the person she is not just the child whose needs must be met.

    She is 15.
    When did that happen?

  10. Aw. I hope she has a terrific 17th (!) year. xoxo