Although her birthday is still one week away, it really hit me today... she will be eleven years old in one week. She is not yet a teenager but definitely not the little kid I'd grown so used too over the years.
I suppose part of my nostalgia tonight is due to this song "Slow Down" by Nichole Nordeman. You can find it here "Slow Down"
The song really hits to the heart of watching your child grow up. I understand this in some part due to being the oldest of five children and watching my youngest sister, Teresa Megan, grow up and seeing her distance herself from the family but she wasn't my child so I didn't completely understand the joy and pain of a child growing up and growing apart from you, and when I was blessed with my own darling, I no longer had to feel that anguish.
Now, though my child is becoming independent, she has her own ideas, her own thoughts, opinions, likes, dislikes, fears, hopes and dreams. She is still young enough to love and appreciate me as "the best mom in the world" but I know all too soon that will be gone and I will be left with these awesome, amazing, heart wrenching and truly beautiful memories.
I remember that night she was born, the absolute fear that she was going to die because she was born early and she was having trouble breathing and her blood sugars were so very low, too low, she wasn't eating and she kept throwing up what she did eat. It was an extremely frightening couple of weeks... and then they let us take her home.
Needless to say, we didn't have any clue what we were doing. Grace's father was the youngest in his family and hadn't been around babies much. It had been many years since I'd changed a diaper and I wasn't really all that up to par on making and feeding bottles to an infant! And of course, Grace presented us with challenges by having one of the worst cases of colic her pediatrician had ever seen. To boot, I was working afternoons at a job I'd had less than a year and we were living with my mother in law! Talk about stress on a brand new mommy. Grace's father was working nights while I was trying to recover from an emergency C-section and subsequent infection and this bundle of joy who did nothing but scream her lungs out every night and that with little lungs that weren't working quite right.
Oh what a mess... and it all went by so fast. Soon she was a year old, and then two years old, then she was three and not talking right and had to go to early childhood education classes and she's been in school ever since. Now here it is ELEVEN years later. Jeff and I have had so many challenges, financially, personally, health wise, employment wise and through it all we've raised this amazing little girl. This little being who is someone I love more than I ever imagined it was possible to love someone.
As a parent I have given everything for my child and I do not regret a minute of it. I don't regret the sacrifices or the millions hours spent at jobs I hate just so she had what she needed, I don't regret the bras that I have to duct tape the underwire back inside because I can't afford new ones or the shoes with the holes in the soles, the hair cuts I can't afford or the toe nails that I cut with scissors because they are too thick for nail clippers. I eat peanut butter sandwiches a lot but we have a roof over our heads and Grace has everything she needs to be happy, healthy, well rounded and to do well in school. Even now Jeff is duct taping the dryer vent back together as I speak but at least it is running.
I sit here typing, still wondering if I've actually failed as a mother or if I have indeed raised a person who will succeed in life and find all the things I never found? Will she be happier than me? Will her life have more purpose? Will she look back one day in anger at the things I didn't do?
Here's to you Grace Natalie Helberg, the best part of every day of my life and whatever mistakes I made I'm sorry but when you look back remember this "I love you more than anyone ever could, you are the greatest moment in my life, you have made me and your daddy so proud and gave us more love than we could have imagined and more than we ever deserved! Happy Birthday today and everyday, my best kid!"