Thursday, August 3, 2017

Happy 14th Birthday, Katie! (Give or Take 48 Days)


You've been 14 years old for 48 days now, and I'm just now getting around to writing your birthday letter. Yes, I am definitely in the running for 2017's Worst Mom of the Year Award. Yippee!

There are two reasons I haven't written your annual letter until now:

1. We have been BUSY this summer. (Lame excuse, I know.)

2. I've been staring at you for 48 days now, waiting for this current acceleration to slow down for one cotton-picking minute so I can recover from the whiplash and collect my thoughts. But that hasn't happened yet... and tomorrow is your first (gulp!) unofficial day of high school.* It's Transition Day for 9th graders, also known as The End of Denial for all the freshman mommies.

*Cue all the "oh-my-gosh-where-did-the-time-go" comments, except I know exactly where the time has gone. This link will tell you!

Yes, we are in a turbo growth period this summer. If you don't believe me, let's look at a side-by-side comparison of you on May 28 and July 27.

At first glance, the hair has obviously changed. But look again. Do you see the slight change in the shape of your face? And what's even more apparent to me is the confidence slowly solidifying in your character. Maybe you can't see that in this photo, but I can. And I've witnessed it for the last two months.

It started the first week in June when we were at youth camp together. I got to share an especially holy moment with you and Jesus, and I won't forget it as long as I live. (In fact, this moment will ring into eternity, so I'll be reliving it for a loooong time!)

Your June birthday was also a milestone moment. That night for the first time, we turned on the new patio lights that Daddy installed. We opened your gifts, then had private time with you when Jackson went to bed. We gave you a special ring, talked about your future, then Daddy invited you to dance with him to the song "Perfect" by Ed Sheeran. (I tried not to think of the foreshadowing of this moment, but it was hard to keep my mind from wandering and wondering what your wedding day will be like. That night was the first time I could actually picture it happening one day.)

We went fishing on Father's Day, and I watched you through my camera lens as you sat with your grandfather. The look of contentment on your face spoke to your new ability to sit quietly at peace without forcing yourself into a situation. Does that even make sense? What I mean is: just a few years ago, a fishing trip like this would have meant constant busy-ness and intensity as you moved around and about, wanting another worm or a hook or skipping to a new spot to catch fish. This time, you relaxed and waited for the world to come to you - instead of running out to chase it.

The rest of June involved your first high school class (online freshman health), some new babysitting gigs (what maturity!), your first visit to Six Flags with friends and without an adult (what growth!), and your very last softball game (what an athlete!).

Daddy left for a week-long fishing trip to Canada in July, so you and Jackson and I went on a few adventures and you had a "sleepover" in my bed every night. The second week of July, we drove to South Carolina with your friend Ashleigh so we could spend a few days with Aunt Mimi at the beach.

You earned new freedom at the beach: you and Ash walked the dog by yourselves, stayed up late, watched more "mature" movies we wouldn't have seen a few years ago, and you got yourself up early enough to watch the sunrise over the ocean. Heck, I even let you drink lots of Coke! Say what?! One morning, you made a special plan to watch the sunrise with me. Man, this moment was priceless!

Then you started marching band camp.

And all of a sudden, the accelerated changes went into hyper drive. I can hardly describe it! When you were a preschooler, I knew you were changing regularly but couldn't quite see it until hindsight gave me clarity. But the last two weeks of July, I saw growth every single day. It was as if your soul was thickening right in front of my eyes, like the concrete foundation of your childhood was now strong enough to support a substantial structure. I gasped the day you came home from band camp and spontaneously decided to get a hair cut. I about fell over at the hair salon when you decided to cut off 10 inches so you could donate it to Locks of Love. Flabbergasted.

You've been painting your nails. Sporting jewelry. Wearing your hair down! I mean, I can't even...

I don't want to gloss over the growth and changes that gradually appeared in the year before June - before you turned 14 - but I can hardly remember the person you were before this lovely, vibrant, 14-year-old young lady emerged. Now do you understand what I meant when I spoke of whiplash at the start of this letter?

I am having the time of my life, exploring you and watching your personality unfold. I know the relationship I have with you is special. You tell me often that your friends don't talk to their moms like we talk. (You know this because your friends tell you this!) I wonder if I should be waiting for the other shoe to drop when you'll become a surly, eye-rolling, harumph-ing teenager. Maybe that phase is on its way, and maybe it isn't. At this point, I'm enjoying myself too much in the present moment to be distracted by any possible angst on the way.

You delight me, Katie. I can't believe I get to be your mom! What a fun ride we're having.

I love you,

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