There she was: A birthday post for my daughter.

There she was


At some point* in the next few days I’ll be the mother of a 19-year-old.

*I actually do know when, in case you were worried.

A nineteen year old.

(BRB, I need to go do a shot and sing some Wham! so I don’t feel as old as that makes me sound.)

The point is, most some there’s occasional days I don’t really feel like I’m much older than 19 myself.

So how in the hell is it possible that I’m the mother of one? That for nineteen years I’ve been allowed the responsibility of parenting a child? And more staggering — that I haven’t screwed it up?

When my (almost) 19-year-old was home from college last weekend we celebrated her (almost) birthday and did one of her very favorite things: watched old home movies.

Stop it. I know.

When I saw her tiny, two-year-old self running around and heard that voice that I’d forgotten (but that I also felt like I’d heard just yesterday), I felt my heart seize up and tears instantly sprung to my eyes. I almost couldn’t bear to watch. (And no, it did not have to do with the corduroy overalls and burgundy lipstick I was rocking in 1998.)

There she was, questionable haircut yet still adorable, helping her Daddy build a swing set and singing about how ‘cooperation makes it happen.’

There she was, zipping down our homemade backyard water slide in her ruffled swimsuit, her little two-year-old fanny cheeks peeking out.

There she was, “reading” the entire Mulan storybook — word for word — in her two-year-old speech that 17 years later I could still understand — word for word.

There she was, bravely waving goodbye on her first day of preschool and giving me a tight hug around the neck when I picked her up at the end of the day, asking, “Did you cwy?” and then giving me a high-five when I told her I didn’t … before telling me she loved me and hugging me again. HOW THE HELL WAS I NOT CRYING? 

There she was, helping disassemble her crib and put together her little toddler bed, tucking in the same stuffed animals she still sleeps with today, even at college.

There she was, dancing in her Disney princess dress (Mulan again, in case you were wondering, which was released in 1998 and as big in our house is Elsa is in yours), twirling slowly and calling me “Fa Li,” fully immersed in the transformation made by the scrap of shiny, cheap satin.

And then, just when I thought my heart couldn’t bear to watch anymore, I looked next to me.

There she was, snuggled up next to me and holding my hand under the blanket, watching her two-year-old self with bright eyes and a smiling face. That same bright, smiling face (but thankfully, much better hair).

There she was, (almost) 19 years old, still the imaginative, smart, loving girl she was all those years ago.

There she was, (almost) 19 years old, taking college by storm and full of dreams for the future (which may or may not include voicing a Disney princess. Some dreams never die).

There she was, (almost) 19 years old, still—thankfully—every bit her mama’s girl.

And instead of feeling sad, I felt so lucky.

Because while it’s true that 17 years ago I had an adorable toddler who said adorable things, 17 years ago I didn’t yet know the remarkable, fun young woman she is today. Now that’s sad. (Again, let’s leave my corduroy overalls out of it.)

How fortunate am I to get the best of both worlds! And what’s even more exciting? The thought of all that is to come.

I can hardly wait.

So happy (almost) birthday to my little/not-so-little princess –

“The greatest gift and honor… is having you for a daughter.” – Disney’s Mulan

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For other family birthday posts, just click here.

 

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