Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ten. A Celebration.

The other day someone asked how old my daughter would be turning when I mentioned birthdays.  I replied that my oldest was turning 10 and a couple weeks later the younger would be 8.  The woman told me to "Enjoy it now before it all changes."  I've had this happen before...every parent has.  While pregnant everyone tells you to get ready for no sleep with a newborn.  As they approach their second birthday everyone warns you about the terrible twos...and threes.  There's been several years we've had the relief of no unsolicitated advice.  However, as we creep towards the tween years I begin hearing it again.  The warnings of the terrible things to come with having a tween and teen child...what, you have a girl? Oh, that's even worse.  It really bothers me.  First of all you can't help but then worry about it.  You're coasting along, enjoying this ride of parenthood and then bam, someone says these things and you wonder if you really should be worried.  Of course I know things will change, they have constantly each year of my children's lives.  New steps, new developments.  But, I don't want to watch  my ten year old and think one morning she's going to wake up some terrible tween.  I want to just love her each day as she is and figure things out as we go.  

The sleepless nights of newborn babes were tough.  Walking around in a haze during the day, dreading the evenings because you knew it would be a night of broken sleep with a crying baby.  Yet, it was also the most peaceful times.  The middle of the night when the rest of the world was dark and sleeping...holding my babies close and soaking them up without distraction.  

The toddler years were trying.  There were times I thought I was going to lose it when putting a screaming Ava back into time out for the fourth time in a day (and if it was Layla more like the tenth).  Times when I was willing to try anything to get them to eat just a nibble of a vegetable and not only macaroni.  Yet, these years of two and three were the funniest times.  Girls learning more words each day and saying the cutest things ever.  Ava calling her sister "Layla Flaith" because she couldn't say Faith.  Oh, and the giggles!  There is nothing like the contagious laughter of a three year old.  

As we approach each chapter in childhood there will be tough times along with beautiful moments.  I will choose to look for the good and focus on that.  Yes, puberty may be hard.  Heck, I still feel scarred from it sometimes.  All I can do is love them through it all.  So when they come home, they know they are loved and home is a safe place.  

I can also choose to stop this cycle of people feeling compelled to point out the negatives.  I can tell the pregnant friend that the moment they hold their precious baby they will be forever in love.  I can tell the mother of the two year old to remember to write down the hilarious things they say so you can remember it when they are older.  And, although I don't have a teenager yet I can tell them to be gentle with their daughter who is going through a rough time and see the beautiful young woman she is trying to become.  I will tell myself to know that even though it seems crazy how fast this is going I still have many years to enjoy my children...they aren't turning into scary monsters as they get older.  They are growing into  who they are supposed to be.  We simply get to love them and help shape this.  Rather than think about what this woman said to me, I will think of the other comment someone told me years ago.  When my girls were still babies.  A co-worker, who had an older child told me to not be sad about each stage that passes because with kids, it just keeps getting better.  

The reason all of this came up is obviously because we are deep in birthday month.  The reason it gets me a little fired up and emotional is because it really does seem like yesterday we were here...
That face kills me.  Seriously, I can't handle it.  
Birthdays really get me going.  I have spent much of the day reflecting on the moments she was born.  I remember it all so well, I won't bore anyone with the details.  It was a moment of such clarity for me.  Matt and I had been floundering through our twenties.  Moving from city to city, job to job.  Trying to find where we belonged and what we should do.  Unsure if where we were was the right place.  Then Miss Ava entered our world and it all made sense.  It didn't matter where we were or what we were doing.  We were now a family of three.  This girl has taught me so much.  About being kind.  She has the gentlest heart and loves deeply.  About not worrying what others think.  She's independent and does her thing.  About being a good person.  She gets sad when she sees litter and doesn't like it when her sister stomps on ants...this girl could change the world. I cannot believe we have had the privlige to have her for this past decade.  

So now we celebrate.  We started her birthday week with a party with her friends.  Our little fish wanted to swim so we headed to the hot springs...
Then home for pie...

This goes back to her thoughfullness.  One friend doesn't like chocolate and one can't have dairy.  Ava racked her brain to come up with a dessert everyone could enjoy.  Even though I know she would really have chosen a chocolate-full-of-dairy cake.  But, don't worry I took care of her later with a double chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and chocolate runs through it ice cream.  
Make a wish baby girl...
I couldn't figure out who stole the ay from our cake. A blue paw gave away the culprit...
The day of Ava's birthday it snowed several inches here in our valley.  It didn't bother me as much as an April snowstorm normally would.  Maybe because we never really had much snow in winter so I wasn't as over it.  Maybe because I know how very badly our mountains need the moisture to prevent summer fires.  Or maybe because the birthday girl was so happy to have a snowy birthday.  We took advantage by cramming all their favorite winter activities into a couple hours after school.  Sledding, building a snowman, having a snowball fight and drinking hot cocoa in the snow fort we built.  Phew.
It was a very good birthday for her.  We spent a lovely evening eating all her favorite things, opening gifts, watching home videos of when she was a baby and feeling so very lucky to have had this girl for the past decade.  

Here's to many, many more.  

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