Earth Day. April 22, 2001. The day I became a mom. And Jeff became a dad. To a screaming little bundle of a baby named Grace, swaddled and with a little striped cap on her head. I looked into her tiny little eyes and thought, “How is this little, round, pink, beautiful thing mine?” Those first days a mom were hard. She cried A lot. I was so tired. I pushed her in her carriage through the streets of Boston’s South End, and as she screamed, a woman sitting on her stoop called to me, “It gets better. I promise.” And it did. My screaming helpless baby turned into one full of smiles when I sang to her and read her books. As she grew she was full of mischief, and fun. And though the years she has become not just my child, but a friend, and a source of laughter, and pride, and joy.
When she was small, people used to comment on how cute she was and how lucky I was to have a little girl. And often I’d say, “But I dread the day she turns thirteen.” As she got older, I’d joke with her, “Someday when you are thirteen you are going to be so mean to me!” I expected that she’d want nothing to do with me by this time. Caught up in her world of middle-schoolness, and mom-un-coolness. Responding to me only with eye rolls or “whatevers”.
But it’s not like that. As much as I loved this girl when she arrived on that beautiful Earth Day, I love her even more now that I know the person she is. Smart, kind, compassionate, silly, goofy, a little One-Direction-crazy, talented, high honors making, blue-eyed, good-at-math-even-though-her-mom-is-not, a little adventurous but not too much, good to her friends and family, chatty and inquisitive. She even holds my hand walking down the street when we are in no danger of seeing anyone she knows. Of course it hasn’t been all perfectly fun every one of those days. Thirteen comes with the occasional eye roll, or slammed door, or taunting of her sister. But it sure hasn’t been the way I imagined it.
I love being the mom of a thirteen year old. But I get sad when I think about how fast these years have gone. Too. Stinking. Fast. I don’t want her to leave me. Ever. But it’s going to happen. She’s already decided she’s moving to London one day. And she reminded me just this morning that in five more birthdays she’ll be an adult.
It’s too hard to think about that, so for now, I will just enjoy my time with her close by. So lucky to call this beautiful girl my daughter. So. Lucky. And her sister too, who is unique and special in so many ways.
I didn’t really know what to expect when I became a mom on April 22, 2001. So much possibility in those little baby’s eyes. It’s been a fun ride. And full of love, despite the every day struggles. And so far, thirteen seems like it’s going be a whole heck of a lot better than I imagined.
These photos were taken in New York’s Central Park on Easter 2014.