Happy Birthday, Baby Girl

Hi, baby girl!  Today, you are 15.

Abbey - snowball closeup

(I originally wrote this blog on Abbey’s 13th birthday… but it was so good, I’m just going to change the pertinent info and post it again.  Everything still applies!!!)

I wish I could remember years 2-11 as well as I remember the time leading up to your arrival, the first 23 months of your life, and the last 4!

I anticipated your birth with a yearning I had never know up to that point. I thought of you all day, wrote you letters, sang to you, talked to you.  I simply couldn’t wait until you were in my arms and in front of my eyes!

Four weeks before you were due, we had the bright idea to go to downtown Dallas and see a Mavericks game with our church, Hope Fellowship.  We ate at a Mexican restaurant with Mimi, Tiger, and Shelby and then went to the game.  It came a complete monsoon rain.  We parked in the wrong place and ended up walking up a set of stairs, across an overpass, and back down a set of stairs before arriving at the stadium.  Once we got to the arena, I started feeling funny – having contractions, etc.  The next day was my regular checkup and, unfortunately, my blood pressure was up pretty high… so, the doctor put me on bedrest.  😦  I was pretty bummed because we were out in the middle of nowhere.  Nash, our beagle, kept me company.  So did the cows, ha ha.  During those 4 weeks, we didn’t have cable and relied on rabbit ears (which you have no idea of) and I got really addicted to reruns of Mad About You and Caroline in the City – the only shows I could get to come in clearly.  The commercial for Ross (shop-shopping… shopping at Ross) will forever live on in my memory, as it played no less than 50 times a day. But I never felt “alone” because you were with me.

At the end of the 4 weeks, I woke up on April 22nd with a really bad headache.  Figuring this wasn’t a very good sign, daddy took me to the hospital.  Sure enough, my blood pressure was very high, and the doctor admitted me around mid-day.  At midnight, the doctor decided I needed to be induced.  Hey, it was Easter!  And at 5:33am, just as the sun was rising on a new day, you made you grand entrance into this world – changing ours forever.

I will never ever ever forget the moment I laid eyes on you for the first time.  I said “She’s so beautiful!” and I started to cry.  So did you, ha ha.  My goodness, you were cute!  I thought you had the most amazingly gorgeous eyebrows I’d ever seen on a baby.  I know that sounds strange, but it’s true.  And as they took you over to clean you up a little bit, you cried this cute little cry where you trilled your tongue (something you cannot to this day replicate, oddly enough!) and I was a goner.  Completely in love.  100%.  Finally, they bundled you up like a burrito and laid you in my arms.  You looked at me with the most serious, wide eyes, like you knew exactly who I was.  Even though you had lived in my tummy for 9 months, in that moment we had found each other.

April 23, 2000 was the best Easter ever.  Your first full day as my baby.  It’s incomprehensible to me how much of your present-day personality was revealed to me in that first 24 hours.  I have a picture of you actually smiling at me that first day – I’ll try to find it and insert it here.   You were a “toucher” from day one, and that hasn’t changed.  When you were a few months old, I would lie in bed on my side and nurse you and it was at this point that you started doing something that you do to this very day whenever you need comfort – tickle-scratching the back of my arm.  I probably first noticed it when you were about 4 months old and it was the absolute sweetest thing.

For the first 23 months of your life, it was mostly you and me, kiddo.  Poor daddy worked – A LOT – so you and I were as close as close could be.  You were my best friend.  (still are!!!)  We did everything together – grocery-shopped, sang, laughed, read books… whatever.  Oh!  This is no exaggeration whatsoever:  When you were about 3 months old, I would sing this song to you, “Baby” from the Maltby & Shire musical, Closer Than Ever, and YOU TRIED TO SING ALONG WITH ME.  It was the most amazing thing.  You would concentrate so hard on my mouth while I sang and you would make little cooing noises to go along with it.  Even then, you had the most beautiful voice.  Seriously, your tone was angelic.

When you were around 15 months old, I got pregnant with Luke.  At first, I had morning sickness so all I wanted to do was lie on the couch… but you wanted to play, so we compromised.  We had these little A-Z Sesame Street books.  You would bring me book after book over to the couch and no matter what, I read whatever book you put in my face.  Over and over.  I truly believe that’s why you’re so stinkin’ smart today!!!  LOL  You can thank your brother.  😉

So, yes, eventually Luke came along and you were (and still are) the best big sister.  And then not long after that, we moved (back to) Nashville and Lincoln was born.  Here’s where life got really complicated – with Lincoln being extremely ill, and living in a new place – it seems that you went from being my baby to being my little girl in the blink of an eye.  And I feel like I somehow missed it.  I tried, really hard, to cherish every single moment.  To burn every memory into my brain… but it was just too hard.  Even so, certain things stand out in my mind, like how nurturing, competent and generous you always were.  That hasn’t changed!

But enough about the past… let’s talk about now.  Let’s talk about the future.

Sweet girl, I cannot imagine having a more wonderful daughter.  God out-did Himself when he gave you to daddy and I.  No matter what we prayed for… no matter what we imagined… you surpass it all.  You are kind.  You are smart.  You are important. LOL, no really!  You are!  We watch you handle situations with a grace and maturity that defy your 15 (!!!!!) years.  You love the Lord and are dedicated to serving Him.  You are a loyal friend.  You are FUN… and funny.  You are so talented.  You are a worshiper.  You look at what’s in people’s hearts and treat others with respect and dignity.  And the best part is, I don’t think you have any idea how awesome you are!  Yes, you are confident…  but it comes from knowing who you are in Christ, and that’s a far cry from being self-centered or conceited.  Look, I know you’re not perfect… but you’re pretty spectacular, and we love you!!!!

Now, to the future.  I have so many hopes and dreams for you, sweet girl!!!  I feel that my heart will burst sometimes when I think of all that God has in store for you.

My prayer is that you’ll always know how much God loves you and how intimately He created you.  He knows you.  He loves you.  He has a plan for you and that plan is amazing.  Trust in Him always.  Make room for the Holy Spirit every day.  Leave room for the extraordinary in every day.  When you wake up, just pause and ask “What do you have for me today, God? How would you like to use me?”  I promise you, your life will be more content and fulfilled than you could possibly imagine when you seek Him first.

I love you, baby girl, and I’m so excited for the rest of your teenage years.  Every stage with you is a blessing.  You are a blessing!  We thank God for you every day.

Love,
Mama

Abbey's Snowball pic

Abbey collage

Abbey 11

Abbey 6 Abbey 9 Abbey 7 Abbey 5

The Retainer of my Youth

When I was in 8th grade (I think… or was it 7th?  No, it was indeed 8th) I got my braces off and almost immediately began wearing a retainer.  For whatever reason, it wasn’t long before I was able to start wearing my retainer only at night.  This was a huge step!  FREEDOM!

Classic retainer

Of course, even though my Orthodontist, Dr. Allen, plainly told me that it was in my best interest to wear this retainer EVERY night, over time I slipped and wore it less and less.

But I never lost it.  Ever.

All through high school, I would watch friends go digging back through the trash at fast food places, the school lunchroom, etc. to find their retainers. Because I only wore mine at night, it was easy to just pop it into the little green plastic container every morning and it was safe.

So, I never lost mine… until Friday night.

Recently, I noticed my teeth had been shifting – nothing major, just a little – and my front right tooth has been a bit sensitive. Ok, a LOT sensitive.  [Hello, world! Look at me – I’m getting old(er)!]  Because of this, I began wearing my retainer again for just a few hours a day.  OH MY WORD, it really hurt at first.  I never imagined my teeth and hard palate would’ve changed that much over the years… but then again, it had probably been 10 years or so since I’d even attempted to wear it.  Maybe longer.  So… OUCH.

Prior to Friday night, I ONLY wore the retainer a few hours before bed and would promptly take it out and return it to the little green plastic container.  But this particular night, my tooth was giving me fits (nerve pain?  dunno) so I popped the retainer in as I was getting dinner ready.  My brother and his kids paid us a surprise visit and I got so wrapped up in playing with the babies that – when it came time for dinner – I took out my retainer and placed it on top of my purse, thinking I would easily see it there and take it upstairs later.

That’s the last I’ve seen of it.

I’ve looked everywhere.  I took everything out of my purse.  I offered my kids $5 to whoever found it somewhere in the house.  (thanks for that suggestion, Kim!)  Nada.  I searched under furniture and inside toy bins.  My last resort was the trash, because… well… ewwwwww!

By last night, it was clear there was only one option left.  Ewwwww.

As I rummaged through our garbage, it hit me that:

1) Even if I found it, there’s NO WAY I would ever put it back in my mouth.  Trash really is disgusting.  And no amount of disinfectant would ever make me forget some of the sights and smells I encountered while digging through that.  (In all of my years of being a mommy, I’ve either blocked it out completely or this is the first time I’ve actually had to rummage through the trash for something.)

2) in light of the fact I’d never wear it again even if I DID find it in the trash, the real reason I was searching high and low for my retainer wasn’t because I desperately NEEDED it  – but more because it has sentimental value.

Yes, it’s true.  The retainer, in it’s little green plastic container, has been with me for a long time, and I’ve just grown accustomed to having it.  When I moved to college, the green container went with me.  When I moved to Traverse City, it went there, too.  The same for Nashville, the little farmhouse in Princeton, TX… on to Frisco, and back to Nashville again.

Somehow I managed to hang on to that thing for 27 years.  It’s possible that I had a bit of pride over having… (wait for it)… RETAINED my retainer this many years.  hahahaha  Ahem.  Ok…

I suppose it could show up.  I’m sure it could.  But perhaps it’s time to admit that – even though I was ABLE to wear it – it really didn’t “fit” me anymore.  As with many things in life, there comes a time when you just need to put away the things in your past and admit that you’ve changed.  When you’re young and fresh out of braces, you’re still growing and need that retainer to help maintain that which was put properly in its place.  So maybe this whole thing with losing my retainer has shown me something deeper.

Is my inner “shape” different from when I was 14, which was in constant need of restraint and bridle?  Yes, and no.  While I will never be without the need to daily spiritual guidance and direction… the growth process calls for a re-fitting, if you will.  The borders, barriers, checks and balances that I had at 14… 24, even… have changed now that I’ve matured.  (Hopefully.)

So, maybe it’s just time to say goodbye to that ill-fitting retainer, bite the bullet and get one that fits.

But, you know… the mini-hoarder in me will still keep the little green container.  😉

It looks lonely, no?