on her 18th birthday

This is the DVD special-feature, director’s cut, extended version of what I wrote in the card Kristina opened this morning:

Dear Kristina,

I haven’t spent much time imagining what this day would be like.  You know me – I prefer to hang out in and enjoy the moment.  (I don’t always succeed at that, of course.  But I prefer it.)

So, instead of looking down the road, I was busy enjoying your first word (bird) and your unwillingness to crawl until the day – with no warning – you launched yourself over the stairs. Okay, that falling part I didn’t exactly enjoy, but I did make it to the bottom of the stairs before you landed.

I still don’t know how.

I remember your third birthday, which was all about music, and your thirteenth, which was all about makeup.  I remember when Buster Bunny was your best buddy, how he stays with you still, buried in the jumble of pillows somewhere around your bed.

You have loved, at different times,

  • worms, frogs, butterflies, and dinosaurs
  • stars (the shape) and stars (the galactic body)
  • pink, purple, sparkle, and zebra (print)
  • eating vegetables, riding your bike, and changing your name

You have loved, always,

  • your family, especially Grammi and your Aunties
  • dogs, especially Nana and Kaylah (Nana came first)
  • reading, especially Swallows & Amazons, The Count of Monte Cristo, anything by Tamora Pearce, and Greek myths
  • the beach, ice cream, and popping bubble wrap

There are new loves of course – more fierce as you come into your own and claim your life – your boyfriend, lacrosse, a passion for social justice, your recent discovery of photography.

I remember your insistence – at six – that there was more than one way to view or experience God(s).  I remember that the most thrilling part of getting a sandbox was the enormous dumptruck that delivered the sand.

I remember your shock and betrayal the first time you were stung by a bumblebee.  You were only trying to pet it.

I remember how proud you were the first time you galloped a horse.

I remember how diligent you were about wearing headgear when you first had braces, how you surprised the orthodontist by finishing two months early.  I remember the look on your face as you took in all the stars in the night sky – in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

I remember… everything.

Mostly, I have not seen your life as a progression of years, but of moments.  And we have had so many wonderful moments.  Even the ones that didn’t look so good at the time.  (We did survive you being 13 and 14.)

You are growing still, you will keep on growing, learning, changing, becoming more the brilliant young woman you are.

All the ages you have ever been live inside you.  Keep them well.  Be tender with them – the wonder, the innocence, the enthusiasm, the curiousity – these are gifts from your childhood.

As your childhood has been a gift to me – I grew along with you, and I thank you for that.  We figured it out together, we who fancied ourselves the Gilmore Girls.

If there have been times I held on too tight, when you thought I was over-protective, when the transition to the next stage was rough, this was probably why:

Soon, most of the memories you make will not include me.  I am beyond grateful that we have made so many to choose from, to hold dear.

There will always be only one of you.  You are a treasure, my butterfly girl.

I celebrate you, all of you, all of your life.

Love, love, love,

♥ mama

listening to: Sugarland, Baby Girl

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