Ten minutes and fourteen years ago, Hannah Elizabeth came into the world and made me a mom for the first time. Way back then, fourteen years seemed like a lifetime away, and now it's today.
Hannah is the guinea-pig. We practice and hone all of our parenting skills on her first before we get to try them out on her younger sisters. She's had to endure a lot on our journey around the learning-curve, and most times it feels as though we're in this together, figuring it all out as we go.
The greatest reward of parenting is seeing your child from afar and genuinely liking who they are. It's watching from a distance and thinking that you'd gravitate to them if you were a stranger. It's wondering what's in their head and how much you'd like to know more. It's the wonder and the mystery of anticipating who they'll become, but savouring the little glimpses you get to unfold as they grow.
That's not to say that we don't have our share of slamming doors or moments of impasse with a healthy dose of exasperation. We do. We have lots. But I still really like her and I'm pretty sure that most of the time she likes me.
Her feet are bigger than mine now, and she's officially taller.
I catch myself, increasingly more frequently, aware that there are many areas in life in which she is smarter and more aware than I am. She laps up knowledge and stores it away in her encyclopedia-like brain ready to pull out at a moment's notice. Just this morning as I was making her crepes for her birthday brunch, she remarked on the number of countries that England hasn't invaded. She doesn't just know the fact, she knows the context, and why it's important. I can't believe I scored a kid who wants to know the big picture of this crazy world, and approaches it all with curiosity and openness.
She likes Sharpies and sketch books and is often on her tummy on her bed making magic on blank white pages that point to who she is.
She has surrounded herself with good people. Friends who make her believe she is good and valuable, and I can see that she does the same. Friends who make me laugh out loud, and stop to think as they tell me some of their secrets and I get a glimpse into the fourteen year old heart and mind.
She still reads as though her life depends on it, and nothing makes me more full than having her bound towards me and shove a book into my hands and insist that I read it. Those words are game-changers for her, and she wants me to know why and experience for myself. She may not tell me everything that goes on in her heart and her head, but she sets her book in my hands and opens the pages for me so I can uncover some of the mystery for myself.
She listens to good music, scrawling out the words to the lyrics of Canadian Indie bands, and acquiring a collection of thoughtful and dense music. She doesn't care what everyone else is listening to, she knows what she likes, and she makes it her own.
She may be quiet, but she is loved by kids and when their parents leave the house she comes alive with their little ones. They want her to come back because she is kind and knows how to play. Two of the most important skills in this life.
And so, you see that I like her. There is lots to like.
And more to discover, all of which I am looking forward to.
These are the days of head shaking and eye-rolling, stomping away, short fuses, and academy-award caliber dramatic responses. But within and around are these amazing moments of knowing.... and liking.
Fourteen years has come and gone in the blink of an eye.