Do you realize it was approximately forty-five minutes ago when I held her for the very first time? A tiny little bundle in a warm hospital blanket, her squishy little face peeking out at me from one barely opened eye, straining at the brilliance of her new environment while her tiny little fingers escaped her swaddle and instinctively wrapped around mine. She recognized me. It was love at first touch.
She’s 13 now.
In the blink of an eye.
We, as parents, have been warned for years by wiser folks to soak every single solitary second in because it all goes way too quickly. “Don’t forget to pay attention, they’ll be grown up before you know it!” “Here one minute, gone the next.” “Some day you’ll wish you had dirty little socks lying around to pick up.” “Don’t blink or you’ll miss it!”
I’ll be honest. I didn’t believe it. As a new mother, every day seemed to somehow stretch beyond the allotted twenty-four hours. Days felt like weeks. Weeks felt like months. But then, suddenly, she began hitting important milestones, like smiling, crawling, or walking and before I was able to get fully prepared, time suddenly warped to lightning speed cautioning me that I was up against a big ticking time clock. With each forward step in her life I realized I was losing a teeny tiny part of her. Each moment of growth was a monumental step away from me. I held on for dear life, digging my heels into the ground, fighting the natural progression of things. And then in a split second, months felt like weeks. Weeks felt like days. And days were not nearly long enough.
She’s 13 now.
A beautiful, strong-willed, compassionate, loving, ethical, goofy, studious, responsible, passionate, diverse, moral, Jesus-loving little slip of a young woman. Who hugs me every morning to tell me she loves me. Who texts me from school when her crush teases her during Math. Who isn’t afraid to ask me questions that would have some kids burying their heads in embarrassment. Who marches to the beat of her own drum and has never cared one iota if she “fits in”. Who champions for the kids who need a little extra friendship. And who has surprised us all with a natural God-Given reciprocated affection for all things animal. And she’s mine. For at least the next five years.
Happy Birthday, Avery. You radiate sunshine with Every. Single. Smile.