That subject line is lame, I know. I was trying to think of some kind of freakish, supermarket tabloid headline to express the feelings I have about my baby turning 30.
It's surreal. It seems like I should be able to bring litigation against someone for saying something so chimerical. How can a woman who vividly remembers turning 30 herself....so it must have been recently...have a blood-relative daughter so close in age?
Say it ain't so! Seriously, dear internet friends and stalkers - I just closed my eyes and twenty years whisked by. Could I really be a 52yo mother of a 30 year old daughter?
Yet there is a silver lining to this traumatic cloud.
Having a 30 year old daughter has enabled me to have a grandson, a granddaughter, and a grandperson(sex known only to God at this point in the pregnancy.) Just the thought of those irresistable cherubs gives me the strength to go on and post the following somewhat humiliating pictures. Not the ones of my beautiful Brite, but the ones of her big-haired, seemingly unstylish to the non-80's eye.. mother.
And wait till you see what my HOH looked like a few decades ago. You will no doubt understand why I married him (especially if you happen to like macho, hairy-faced,80's Men.)
But wait. This is supposed to be about my daughter, Brite - Not the woman who spent 27 hours in labor with her, three weeks overdue, giving birth "naturally" (and by natural, I mean she came out of a natural "opening". There was no such thing as a drug-free birth in the year 1978.) I was totally and completely knocked out. I woke up about 16 hours post-delivery, soporific to say the least. They could have brought me Baby Godzilla and I would've bared my chest and nursed him without question.
Fortunately, they brought me the most miraculous thing I'd ever seen- a baby girl. I wasn't a believer yet, but I do remember thanking God for such a wonderful gift. My next prayer was about 2 weeks later when she was still crying non-stop. They called it colic - but I'm pretty sure she had a bad case of "inexperienced mother syndrome". God bless first-borns. They need it!
Unfortunately, most of the earliest pictures of Brite are either framed or in one of those acid-filled magnetic albums that you don't dare try to extract them from.
This first picture is of Brite, Dad, and Shepherd, along with the Cabbage Patch Doll I MADE FOR HER MYSELF. Yes, indeedy, I was quite the Craft Queen in my younger days. I'm sure that's hard to fathom for those of you who know me now. But early marriage and poverty brings out the creativity in a girl. I was all about the decorated straw hats, the grapevine wreaths with the plastic flowers - and you should've seen all the raffia Mary and Josephs we made one year. I passed that gene on to Brite, who is now the cardmaking and scrapbooking Queen. I guess that's why I don't have it anymore. (Get it? I passed it on....)
Here's Brite with baby Shep (this is obviously before I taught her the Vital Skill of holding in one's stomach during a photo shoot). Shep is shown here in an early version of the umbrella stroller. And I am shown here with my newborn, wearing shorts with my shirt tucked in AND A BELT, for heavens sake. Oh, how I miss my metabolism!
I could not resist posting this because it typifies Brite's happy disposition. And Shep, he is one cute kid! And my hair, it may be short, but it is Very High Indeed. I'm sure that was "in" or I wouldn't have done it, right? Right? =8-/
Brite was, and is still, the epitome of Big Sisterhood. Which is a good thing since the siblings kept coming and coming. This is Baby Jacqueline (formerly known as Betsy), who is now expecting her own baby. I must reiterate, compadres, if it wasn't for the tiny bit of weight I've put on, it would seem like This Picture was Taken Yesterday!!! Stop reading this and go hug your babies (but please come back...I've worked on this for 3 straight hours. You better read to the end.)
Happy little Disney Family. Gotta love the puff-painted visor :)
It only took us 20 years to decide to go back to the Magic Kingdom. And we brought all new kids this time :)
This is us meeting Dad at the airport upon his return from a mission trip to Brazil. Bo has been 10 or 11 times - and Brite has gone at least three times with him. She has a real heart for missions that was developed during those early years.(And I can't help pointing out how skinny I look in my white pants and white shirt TUCKED IN....and holding baby Hunter.)
Brite's choir teacher/mentor told her she had a "ministry voice". Sweet and clear, so you could always understand and focus on the words she sang. God used that voice many times over the years...In church, drama, weddings, and funerals. And now she's singing mostly hymns and lullabies for a smaller audience - Cooper and Adeline :)
Many, many of our childhood and young adult memories of Brite have to do with baking. We used to say that she only baked when she was happy, sad, tired, or energetic. She has sold home-made bread, cinnamon rolls by the dozens and dozens, and given away so many baked goods we should've had a commercial license for our kitchen. Hey! Maybe she's the reason I'm not skinny any more.
I wish I could've found a picture of Brite when Mary-Faith was a baby. Brite was truly her second mother. She was there at my home birth and was the first one to bathe Mary-Faith minutes after she was born. Brite, Betsy and Mary-Faith shared a bedroom for years - and Brite's twin bed was right beside Mary-Faith's crib. Brite would keep a stash of pacifiers in bed with her so when Mary-Faith dropped hers and started crying in the night, she could just reach over and hand her a new one :) Many times I would go into their room and find Brite lying in her bed holding Mary-Faith's hand through the crib rails. They are still very, very close and Mary-Faith recently spent a month at Brite's house helping her care for her babies.
What goes around comes around...or something profound like that.
By the time we adopted Molly, Brite was almost 20, Betsy was 15, and Mary-Faith was six. Molly had more mothers than she knew what to with and we used to fight over who would get up in the night with her. (I usually won.) When Brite or Betsy took Molly out with them, people would assume it was their baby (and they assumed I was the Grandmother. Stupid, blind people.)
Although it's hard having your children close together - the rewards when they grow up as good friends are worth it. They're so close they even tell each other things that they forget to tell me. I don't appreciate that.... but there's a part of me that realizes their friendship will most likely outlive me. That's comforting in a morbid sort of way (!)
Which one is the mother? I sure can't tell!
Brite's wedding was happy/sad for her youngest siblings. They had experienced more than their share of instability in their short lives - especially the boys, and the thought of a family member leaving was hard to bear. I still remember coming home from the wedding in our big van, with the youngest 7 all sniffling and crying. We talked about how we should be happy for Brite and rejoice with her, and we prayed that they would not be selfish and only think of their own loss. They finally all calmed down and we went in the house and sent them upstairs to their beds. Before I could even get my shoes off, I heard loud weeping and wailing as each of them got into their beds to find a reminder of their long lost sister. Brite had secretly given them each a new, monogrammed pillow case as a "going away" gift and had one of her bridesmaids sneak back home and place them on their pillows.
I thought about calling her to "thank" her - but then I remembered she was on her honeymoon (plus the fact that Warren, my new son-in-law, gave my husband the number where they could be reached, but told him implicitly not to use it unless someone DIED. Several people did die that week. We knew that because we read about them in the newspaper. But we wisely decided not to call anyway.)
Nowadays, the Whole Fam gets together as often as we can, but when you add in-laws families, etc. into the picture, it gets harder. When we do get together, there is usually Much Merrymaking. The married girls live in different states than us, but we try hard not to let much time go by without a visit. Phone calls and emails abound. We even have one of those Skype thingys that lets you see the person when they phone you. You do what you gotta do to keep those Grandchildren from forgetting who their favorite Grandparent is.
Cooper, age almost 3, called me just last night to tell me he had spilled something on his shirt. A Grandmother needs to know these things, even if she is 7 hours away! Brite calls me several times a week and I know she talks to her sisters and brothers often.
Warning: Sad part coming. (But hey, you've read this far, why not grab a kleenex and finish what you started? And if one of my older sons is reading this....I know you skimmed. I apologize for the length. I need an editor. I really do.)
I do miss the years when everyone was young and at home. It wasn't easy letting my firstborn go. We had gotten past the mother/authority figure stage and were really enjoying the mother/daughter friend stage. It's hard to have a child think the world revolves around you, and then pass them on to someone they have only known a fraction of their lives. I adore both my sons-in-law, and that makes it much easier. I'm so happy for my girls. But it doesn't take all the heartache away. I've shed my share of tears over the growing independance of my older children. It's hard not to be needed as much.
It's good, very good. And it's right. Oh, so right. But it's hard on the Mom. And probably the Dad, too - - - but they don't blog about it, so we can't be sure :)
For so long their life depends on you, literally, as you nurse them, rock them, and stay up late worrying about their coughs and fevers. You read to them, and teach them, and they come to you with every question they have about life. If the relationship is good, this continues for a long time...The same, yet different. There's a natural weaning, but it still comes as a surprise when they marry, or move away and you don't know what time they're getting home, or what they're eating (or what they're wearing....but that's a relief, really!).
It's weird. And it happens very, very fast. I'd like to go back and try it again, but this time I'd walk slower, and I'd try to live "in the moment" more.
My daughter is a much better wife and mother than I ever was. And that was my goal.
"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth."
Happy Birthday, Dear Brite!
I love you, sweetheart.