Monday, August 24, 2009

A love letter to my darling 17-year-old daughter

This may be the last year we celebrate your birthday while you live with me.

I know that this makes you excited, and it makes me excited too...and sad. I love knowing you and your life every day, and I can't imagine the space that will be left when I don't get to assure myself that you are safe every nite by peeking into your bedroom just to make sure.

You got your first car this weekend, and you started your senior year of high school (sophomore year of college).

Every day it seems like another piece of the life you will have that belongs only to you (and in which I will become a visitor) is put into place.

It is as it should be. And it is wonderful for you. And it is bittersweet for me.

I am continually in awe of the amazing creature that you are.

This was true 17 years ago when you charged into this world (without aid of an epidural!) and instantly claimed the adoration and devotion of the nurses in the hospital nursery. They were so excited about your abundant, white "locks" that you were afflicted with an ungodly number of infant bow assaults (utilizing the ever-popular karo syrup or honey technique) during your first 48 hours.

This was true when you burst out the front door in the dead of winter in a tanktop, shorts, and bare feet and were stopped in your tracks by the bitter cold. Your eyes were like saucers as you looked around yourself incredulously at the brilliant blue sky and blinding sunlight and said, "Has this ever happened before?"

This was true when you figured out the joy of trick-or-treating. With a wicked gleam in your eye, and wily upturn of your lip you said, "THIS is life!"

One night, after singing you a song and kissing you goodnite, you looked into my eyes and said in the purest voice, "Your kisses fly straight from your lips to my heart."

You have always had a way with words. Terri and I were with you at the airport one nite and you were getting bored. You stretched your miniature body out across three seats--and as you extended from fingertip to toe said, "I'm a strange kind of cat."

I loved running on the moonlit beach of Maui with you and Gabi and squealing because we were scared of being pinched by all the crabs that had been left as the tide went out.

I love every time the three of us go to Taco Time or stay up too late and get out-of-control silly for no reason that any of us can remember--but we know that it made us laugh until our bellies ached.

Lately, I like hearing the quiet voices of you and your sister as you talk about hair and what to wear and other, whispered things that I never quite catch. It makes me smile and my heart swells just a little bit (so grinch-like!) every time I am lucky enough to catch a snippet of your sisterly conversations.

I appreciate your patience with my crazy control issues and other, just-plain-crazy issues.

I am simultaneously relieved and impressed by your choices in friends and boys.

You are all the best things I ever wanted--in a walking, talking (slightly ditzy, but very grounded) package.

When you were a baby you would stay asleep in your little carrier at the movies or out to coffee. Now you stay awake to share a movie, have a random chat, or drive me home from Terri's after a couple of drinks.

You have a great sense of humor. You are patient. You are neat and organized (thanks to the influences of Grandma Phyllis and Terri!). You are willing to try new things.

It rocks that you took a hip-hop dance camp this summer. While I secretly knew inside (okay, not so secretly) that you are the whitest girl I've ever known, I was fascinated to see your passion and fearlessness.

Part of me wants to hold on to you. And part of me always will. The thought of you leaving the warm (hopefully safe) fold of my daily diligence is something I can't really think about for too long (but is ever-present, nonetheless). This year is--despite all of my best efforts to change my perspective--a countdown.

My very soul feels each moment, event, milestone...and recognizes it as a collector's item. This birthday, this Christmas, this surprise day when we all decide to play hooky--these are now limited editions.

Thank you for letting me be your mom...and for sharing your clothes (and shoes!) with me. If you find your black, suede boots missing a year from now, I'm sure I will not be able to help you find them--they must have been lost in the move to your new life!

Happy Birthday, Savannah-monk. I can't believe we've been doing this family thing for 17 years!

I love you more than hot baths, dirty martinis, and perfect, rainy days.



Jason said...

Happy Birthday, Savannah!

And thank you, Becky, for expressing what I imagine many parents of children this age feel. You've gotten me weepy thinking about Connor - and his 18th is this spring.

Thank you for sharing your heartfelt words. I always enjoy them.

Phyllis said...

I remember when Crishawn told me three days after she graduated from High School that she was moving to Reno Neveda. My heart sank and I was hysterical. Valium was my friend that day. Letting go is hard to do but you will survive.

LaRiesse said...

Savannah is fantastic and you have done a fine job. I can not believe how much time has passed!