This week was the beginning of birthday season in our family. Ironically, Bailey, being the oldest, was born in the first month of the year, and this was a big birthday for her. This was a big birthday for her, but really, I think it was equally momentous for me. My baby girl turned TWENTY. I almost have to catch my breath every time I think about it. I seriously cannot believe that I have a twenty year old child.
Birthdays are always fun around here. We never were big on birthday parties per say, but when we are all here together, it's always a party. There is a birthday almost every month excluding February, July, August, and December, and usually we hold Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Mothers and Fathers Day celebrations here as well. So lots of family time and always a wonderful thing when birthday season starts. But this birthday was a little different.
Bailey wasn't here for her actual day, but I sent her a birthday text very early that morning. It was funny, because I also received a few texts from friends, and Barry, who all said "can you believe that you have a twenty year old"? I am shocked and stunned by that but also a little flattered. It is very nice when people say they can't believe I have a child that age. It makes this old momma smile a little.
It's hard for woman sometimes. I mean, that is probably the biggest understatement I could make, because hard doesn't even touch on all that it really is, but hard says a little. Raising girls in a world full of so much garbage and negative influence is not easy. Our kids are homeschooled, but we do not live in a bubble. All of my children have been exposed to many of the same societal influences that your children are around, but just not on a daily basis. Some are positive but many are not. Little Miss Bailey is actually the main reason why we decided to homeschool the kids. We had her in the public school system for junior and senior kindergarten, but she just excelled beyond what was expected of her at that age in that setting, so we took her out and have not looked back.
What made things tough, was knowing that she was the first. We had to do it right the first time because there were six more after her, and we really wanted her to be a great example for the rest to follow. I say it all the time, but I am really one blessed mother. Bailey is probably the best first child anyone could ask for. She has all the traits of a typical first child...she is bossy, and motherly, bossy and a little bossy. But she has always been a loving encourager to her siblings, and even if she has to get the first and last word in, she always gives of herself to her siblings in any way possible. So cute, she always talked a lot, and over all of her siblings. For a while, she was a bit of a stammerer because she always wanted to get the first word in. I always new she was going to do well in life, and she has.
But ultimately, on this birthday, I looked back over the past twenty years, and would not change a single thing about it. I might try to slow time a bit, but it has been such a joy to watch this little girl grow into a strong, independent, intelligent young woman. As I reflect, I think about how we really only get one chance, and it really doesn't last long, but it is so very important. I don't take motherhood lightly. I know just how important this job is. I have seven children that are counting on me as a mother to do this right. I don't always do it right, but I always do my best. I say it to the kids all the time, just do your best.
So, I went to Toronto this weekend to celebrate with Bailey and I still can't believe it. I can't believe that twenty years ago when I was just twenty three years young myself, I became a momma. We like to tell the kids their "birth" day story on their birthday, and I wanted to do that when I went down, but I'm getting old...and I totally forgot. The birth story never changes, and never gets old. Among the many situations that occurred during Baileys birth story, when the doctor took the cord from around her neck and we heard her little cry, I saw Bear cut the cord, but I swear the cord just grew stronger. I looked at her this weekend and just feel in love again. She is twenty but she is still my baby. She is away from home but there is still the connection that we share. I kissed her cheeks to say goodbye, and you know what, she's still my baby. I don't care if she lives on her own and is in the big city. It doesn't matter how much time has passed or all that she has accomplished. Always mommas first, always my biggest baby.
So I've been a mother for twenty years, and I'm giving myself a big 'ole pat on the back, but it is not a job I do alone. I couldn't do it without daddy's help and I couldn't do it if I didn't pray over my children every single day. Every day I doubt myself, and I wish I could do things better. Every day I get frustrated that I goofed up or was a bad mom. But every day I smile at some point because I have had the privilege to be the momma of these awesome children for twenty years!!