Yes, you read that right, I was 16 when I had Grace. As a pregnant teen you are faced with many decisions to make in a very short time. Decisions that I hope my teens don't have to make because they're the most difficult decisions any adult would have to face & it's 100 times harder for a child to do. I made many decisions at 16 years old that today I'm very proud of. I've had to make other difficult choices over the years & I've always put my children's needs first so that I would make the best choices for them, not for me. At 16 I'd never done that before. Teenagers are selfish. They don't know what it's like to decide what's best for another human, and especially not a brand-new person they'd never met before. And they have no way to know how much this brand-new person will demand of their life & that the decisions they are making now will effect both them & this new person for the rest of both of their lives. No matter how much babysitting or helping around the house a child does, nothing prepares them for the reality of parenthood.
I lost many friends because of my decision. Some left because of the decision itself, some left because we just had nothing in common anymore. I didn't hang out with friends at night or go to sleepovers or parties. I stayed home with my baby. I breast fed, I co-slept, I read books about vaccinations & parenting. It was all foreign to my friends & I couldn't relate to their lives anymore. I put 100% of what I had into my baby girl. And I never looked back.
I mourned the lost friendships. It wasn't easy. To say it was difficult to walk away from friends & stand firm in my choices is an understatement. And every day that I did it, I never regretted it. I would look at my amazing gift from God & know I was making the right choice, no matter how much it hurt. Because the day I decided that I was going to be a Mom to the little one growing inside me, was the day I became a different person.
That day I set myself aside & made someone else my priority & I continue to do that each day. That day I became the person in charge of another person. How that little person turned out depended on what I provided for him or her. That day I accepted the responsibility of a brand-new little person's emotional, mental, & physical health.
Every year on her Birthday I'm reminded of how happy she has made me & what a lucky person I am to have her as my daughter. I love watching her grow into a responsible & capable young lady & know that she will be one amazing adult & continue to have a positive effect on many people.
When she was little she used to cry about getting older. "But I don't want to grow up, Moooommmmmy!" and "I don't want to get older & move out!!" I'd calmly tell her, "Gracie, you're only 7. We have a long, long time until you move out of the house." Oh, how wrong I was. 8 years ago it did seem far away.
Now...it's not so far away. Those little girl years are far behind us, yet they seem not so long ago. In less than 4 short years she will be headed to college to start a life on her own. I know that day will be a day filled with tears from both of us because neither one of us likes to be apart from the other.
One of the enjoyable parts of parenting is watching the milestones. I've never been one of those Moms that cries over the first day of Kindergarten or their Birthdays & how they're growing up. I've always celebrated it because let's face it, your tears aren't going to prevent them from growing up. I've always encouraged independence (even though one of my children has yet to cut the umbilical cord & she was born 8 1/2 years ago) & being proud of their accomplishments. Not because I'm cold hearted or don't care that each milestone means growing closer to being away from me, but because that's part of the parenting process. Why fight it? Be happy in the future adult that you're raising & proud of the skills you've taught that little person so they can make it without you, that's always been my thinking.
The other day, while sitting at her brother's football game, Grace told me that she marked me down as her role model on a paper for one of her classes. I always wanted to be a woman my children could look up to & be proud to call their Mom. To have my oldest child say that to me, when she could have easily written down someone else, brought tears to my eyes. I've actually accomplished one of my goals, I'm the Mom I've been working so hard to be. Not that my job as Mom is over but at least I know I'm on the right track.
Today a beautiful, intelligent, funny, energetic, outgoing, girl with a bright future turns 15. Happy Birthday, Gracie!
Grace and me the day after she was born
6 week old GracieAnd now I will say what always make her teary, "Gracie, never forget you're the one that made me a Mom."
Grace & me