When my daughter was very young, I had great intentions of keeping track of the many, MANY memorable moments that her life would produce. I even bought journals – blank books with pages just waiting for memories to be jotted down, as they happened, to be enjoyed in the distant future. Maybe even on 18th birthdays. What a GREAT idea! Why, I even thought of that!
Unfortunately, I never did that.
So today, on my daughter Britton’s 18th birthday, I have drawn upon the pictures that remain in my aging mind in order to remember eighteen moments & experiences from the years that have raced by since you were born – my firstborn. These aren’t all of the memories, mind you (my mind isn’t that far gone!), but they are certainly among the sweetest. The ones I never will forget.
1. Gerber baby food spinach. Dark. Green. Slimy. Smelly. YOUR FAVORITE!
2. Sitting in the Mexico City airport, return trip from a holiday beach vacation, watching chicken pox erupt on your perfect baby skin. Couldn’t get home quickly enough!
3. Our first sail. In our first sailboat. Catalina 22. Cheney Lake. So exciting that YOU fell asleep in the V-berth! Apparently you weren’t aware that Dad & I were still learning how to sail. We executed a nasty jibe, sending you bouncing off the ceiling and back down to the cushion. Never mind that we took on (a wee bit of) water – you looked up at us, gave a killer glare (how DARE YOU interrupt my nap!) and fell back to sleep.
4. Choosing your dress, ordering your corsage & Dad’s boutineer, fixing your hair EVERY YEAR for the Daddy/Daughter Holiday Dance.
5. “And the rocket’s red glare; star bombs bursting in air!” Never mind that I didn’t correct you early enough – it was so perfectly sweet to hear you sing it that way!
6. Leaving our newly-found church home in Yuma and having you say, enthusiastically, grin all OVER your face: “Mom – I think I’m addicted to this place!”
7. Singing the “Smile Song” to you at bedtime. For YEARS of bedtimes.
8. Incredible, mind-blowing temper tantrums! Sometimes at home (where there were doors to slam). Sometimes in the car (where you were perfectly positioned to kick the back of my seat repeatedly). Do you remember “Rollercoaster” – our secret code for, as Jimmy Buffett would say, “Breathe in, breathe out, move on”?
9. The way you adopted Sue (our exchange student) into our family as “sister,” and the way you STILL consider her to be just that, all these years later. AND the way you worked so hard, taking college classes, going to high school and working part-time in order to buy your OWN plane ticket to Germany, to see your sister!
10. Mom/Daughter retreats (especially the shopping trips – and ESPECIALLY the matching pink pants trip)!
11. The note you wrote to your father when he was considering a job change. You wrote it at night. Left it in his car, where he found it the next morning. It was exactly what he needed to hear.
12. Me, getting ALL worked up at one of the first softball games you pitched, while listening to the other team’s parents yelling: “Come on! You can hit that pitcher! HIT HER!” Me, telling those parents how RUDE it was to coach their kids to HIT someone during a softball GAME! (Me, slow in catching on to softball lingo, not realizing they were talking about hitting the PITCH – not the PITCHER.)
13. Years & years of birthday parties (especially the Luau year, when the neighbor kids stole the ring toss game DURING the party AND the year that EVERY SINGLE GIFT you opened was another Barbie)!
The Luau Birthday
14. This past spring, when you took your brother to see the Harry Potter midnight premier with you & all of your friends.
15. Watching you (& Mandy) lead the music at this year’s women’s retreat (and most memorably, the late-night practice session at our house the week before). You sing and play so beautifully. I am so very proud.
16. Knowing about (at least) some of the behind-the-scenes giving you do from a heart that is generous and kind: donating backpacks and school supplies to kids in need; buying Wet ‘n Wild passes for you and your brother to enjoy together…
17. Awed (not to be confused with odd, although, if the boot fits…) by your amazing motivation, diligence and HARD WORK! Watching you achieve so much before this 18th birthday, both academically and athletically, has left me (nearly) speechless. I don’t know where you get it. Seriously.
18. Just yesterday, when you called about the crazy “18 on the 18th” birthday gifts that are rolling in from friends and family everywhere… So many people who love you SO MUCH! Such a testimony of a life – 18 years of life – already well-lived. Because you are well-loved.
Most people would probably think of #5’s “star bombs” as a mistake, but that’s because they don’t know the definition of a “star bomb”.
A “star bomb” is what happens when something wonderful explodes on the scene, capturing our attention and leaving us eager for more (which is what you’ve done for me these past 18 years).
May these memories bring smiles, tears and HOPE for many years to come.
For you, Britton. Birthday girl.
And for all of us who need to remember to take the time to write it down.