Saturday, February 12, 2011

Seven Minutes…errr…15 Years Ago Today…

Absurdly, it’s Tori’s 15th birthday. I know it’s a cliché to talk about how the years have flown by and ask where the time went, but it’s a cliché for a reason—it’s a near-universal experience.

15 years and 12 hours ago, I was sitting at a rather grungy Denny’s, having been unceremoniously booted out of the hospital for not being far enough along in the process. The lasagna I’d made that evening was still sitting in my oven untouched, but that wasn’t why we went to Denny’s. Eating was out of the question, given that I was in so much pain I couldn’t even stand up straight. No, we went to Denny’s because it was across the street from the hospital, and you KNOW when you’re having a baby.

It was a long, strange night that seemed rough in the moment and has evolved over time into a fond and entertaining memory. My little sister’s pay phone fight with the condescending nurse has become legendary; we’ve all come to love the boy with the sno-cone colored hair whom I first met on that night. No one seems to remember who read Tori’s charts on the day she was born (or whether it was even someone anyone among us knew), but we all remember the dramatic predictions she (he?) made.

That part, I’ll admit, seems like another lifetime. Maybe more than 15 years. But something strange happened the very next day. I had a beautiful baby girl, and then she started kindergarten and a couple of days later it was middle school and now she’s 15.

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post about how each new stage in a child’s life brings its own joys, and I’m happy to report we haven’t reached the end of that road yet (though my friends with teenagers keep warning that the end is near).

In fact, it often seems to me that it's only the details that change--and sometimes not even those.

So rather than looking at all of the many ages and stages we've passed through and all the milestones my baby has left behind today, I'm thinking about how she's been the same remarkable, sweet, funny, positive, lovable and creative person for as long as I've known her.

And I've stopped waiting for something to change. I've stopped believing that one day I'll get used to her, and that she will come down the stairs in the morning and I won't notice all over again how beautiful she is. I'm going to stop believing that one day she'll run out of new discoveries to share with me, or that her enchantment with those new experiences will cease to enchant me. Yes, she will be driving in a year and I don't know how that happened, but it doesn't frighten me. Because I do know the sound of her half excited/half frightened laughter, and I can't wait to hear it the first time she eases her foot onto the gas pedal...I've heard it before, when she rode a two-wheeler for the first time, and it was delightful.

She's gone from baby to schoolgirl to "the big kid" to teenage aunt

and so far, every day is just as much fun as the one before. Somehow, I think that's going to continue even when she's all grown up.