Eighteen Candles

mom holding baby girlParenting.

One of the few jobs that doesn’t necessarily get easier the more years you have under your belt. Because while your skills might sharpen as you balance the tightrope between “yes” and “no” every day, your child is changing the playing field.

Constantly.

You might have one child or five — all boys or a mixture of kiddos — but each and every day you suit up to play a game that isn’t the same game you played yesterday.

I’ve done this parenting thing once already. With 22 years under my belt and a son recently launched into young adulthood, I thought I had it all under control.

My baby girl changed the game.

And now she’s ready to fly.

My last child, my only girl… I’m not sure what it is.

But while I am incredibly excited for her next chapter in life — college move-in only one month away — my heart is already missing that little girl who has been my sidekick for so many years. The toddler who grasped my legs while I cooked dinner and now shares my love for iced coffee and Target runs.

She’s 18 today.

I still can’t wrap my head around it.

From the day she was born, she’s been such a presence in my life. This tiny 6-pound baby girl who couldn’t wait for her due date to make her appearance; who threatened to be born while her father was off in search of a soda machine in the depths of the hospital hallways.

She altered the course of our lives, bringing a new perspective on parenting to two people who thought they knew it all. Her 4-year-old brother had no idea what a game-changer she would be… or that she would be his trusted ally and playmate for years to come. To watch them interact now as young adults is incredible. These two little souls who grew up in a heartbeat — right under my nose — as I fed them, bathed them, read to them, taught them, laughed with them and cried over them.

But my daughter.

How can I sum up 18 years of memories in just a few sentences, or a few memories pulled from the pre-digital years? Shuffling through the old photo boxes this afternoon I wished Steve Jobs had been a little bit quicker with his iPhone… or that I had not worried about the cost of a roll of prints from the neighborhood photo shop.

The cost of the missing memories is steep right now.

She is tenacious and caring, both a deep thinker and a free spirit. She makes me laugh and makes me think, makes me want to be smarter and do better. She loves a debate, yet loves a silly conversation just as much. She is fiercely loyal to her family and friends.

For the past 18 years she has graced our home with so much energy, laughter and love… and when she leaves for college next month her absence will echo down the hall, towards her empty bedroom.

But give me some Facetime, a text filled with emojis, a funny meme shared with an LOL or a call out of the blue — I’m good with that.

She’ll always be my sidekick.

Happy 18th birthday, sweet girl.

It’s time for you to fly.

kak grad walk

 

Table for Two

This is how we started out.

After I do’s were said, rice was thrown, gifts were opened, and a long white satin dress was cleaned and stored away.

In a small apartment with little to call our own, our table for two was sometimes the couch; an old wooden box we called a coffee table pulled close with two dinner plates on top.

We worked all week, we hung out together, ran errands, tried to exercise, watched TV, and just spent so much time together.

I can barely remember how that felt.

For about seven years, we just enjoyed being us.

Then we became a family. Life was never quite the same. The craziness and fun of new parenthood was so much better sharing it with someone I loved so much. I knew he would be such an amazing daddy and he was. Still is.

Seventeen years later, we sit more often at that table for two again.

Not the couch, but our massive dining-room table, made to seat a crowd.

Not just two.

Our son gone to college; his 13 year-old sister busy with soccer and BFF’s. This is what we hoped for, what we planned for, for all of those years in between. For our kids to be healthy, happy, busy, and doing what they wanted with their lives.

And they are.

And now when we are alone and the house is quiet, I am remembering so many reasons why I said yes all those years ago. Why it was so important to keep the you and I part right there with the mom and dad part.

Because eventually we are back at the table for two.

And I wouldn’t want to be sitting with anyone else.