Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Today You're 17

My dearest Abby, 

Today you turn 17 years old. Exactly 17 years ago, right now, they were finally taking you away to the hospital nursery for the first time. I had spent nearly 10 months with you inside me, spent an hour with you in person and when they took you away for your required two hours away, I had to let go of you for the very first time. That was really hard. 

And now, I'm having to let go of you again. It's slower than a simply taking you from my arms. It's a long, drawn-out process. It's even harder than that first time.

Not long ago, I started to wonder if I've done enough, taught you enough, and showed you enough in the time I've had. I've had the amazing privilege of staying home with you for almost your entire life and for the last year and for the next, I get to be your teacher as well as your mom. And even with all that time we've had together....I realize I haven't done, taught and shown you as much as I've wanted. And then I wonder if I'll have enough time to do for you, teach you and show you before you leave our house and go make your own.

I probably won't. And no parent ever does. I don't think any of us parents send our kids out into the world with a hearty pat on the back and a cheerful, "Yep, you're ready!"

No, I think we all panic and think, "Oh crap....I forgot to...." and want nothing more than to grab you up and cram all that we forgot into your head and heart as fast as we can.

And strangely, the things that keep popping into my head when I think of sending you out into that big ol' world is how to fold a fitted sheet and how to make gravy.

Silly, huh?

You are amazing. You're beautiful inside and out. You are kind and compassionate. You're brilliant, talented, wise beyond your years and confident. You amaze me. 

You were the hope your daddy and I thought we had lost forever. You were the answer to so many prayers. Please, please, please don't ever think for one second that you aren't loved and cherished. 

As we go into your last year as a child - although you rarely act like one anymore - please go easy on your ol' momma and daddy, okay? But especially your momma. You're the first and you know you are the practice child, right? You have paved the way for your siblings from the beginning, so you get the new, raw, unknown emotions from us. Your brother and then your sister will still get these weird outbursts of emotion from us, but they won't be as new to us and hopefully we'll be more prepared to handle them. 

In the meantime, we are going to struggle with this. You will, too. You are growing up and there isn't a dadgum thing any of us can do about it. We know you're just itching to get out there and GO. And while we are excited for you, we are sad for us. We are going to miss you and your hamsters when you move out.  

We will never feel like we've done enough, even though I'm sure you're screaming on the inside, "Seriously? You've done so much I feel like I'm smothering!" It's okay to feel like that. I can tell you from experience, I felt that way. My mom didn't like it when I felt that way and I don't like it when you do. However, she let me do things my way and was there for me. She still is. 

And I will always be here for you, too.

I love you more than I could ever say.

Happy 17th Birthday, my Abby Girl.

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Originally published in The Miami News-Record, July 2020 Everything is different now. I’m not just talking about masks and social distancing...