Cheers to nineteen.

Dear friends,

We had a party last night. Best I can tell, it was a hit.

As was the cake.

I got a little nervous about running out of cake when kids kept showing up, but my four-layer beauty fed the hungry teenagers with one piece to spare. Whew!

The whole evening made my heart full. I couldn’t have been happier that so many friends showed up to help Kate celebrate. It’s been a tough year for her as she noted on a recent Facebook post: Eighteen was one heck of a year for me, but I made it through it. Cheers to nineteen and all that it brings me!

Our new little town has welcomed us at every turn over the past several months, and the kids have been especially kind and friendly. My debt of gratitude grows every day with each new gesture of friendship.

With gratitude {for strength of family, resilient kids, and the gift of new friends, which is one of the best reasons of all to celebrate},

Joan, who impressed a kitchen full of teenagers while making Pioneer Woman’s Baked French Toast (for Sunday breakfast) with her one-handed egg cracking technique

Bam!

Dear friends,

My baby, my first baby, will turn 19 in two days. I don’t know how it happened. I went to bed and she was six, and I woke up and she was 19. Life is funny that way.

Thirteen years ago when she turned six, I was so discombobulated by it I wrote a story. She had been my baby right through five, then bam! Six was entirely different. My baby was gone, replaced by a young girl.

This week as Kate passes another milestone that feels like a bigger bam to her mother, I thought I’d remind myself I survived the last one. Not without a few tears, but I survived.

With gratitude {for the angel who watches over mothers and reminds us we can take the next step},

Joan, whose heart is bursting with love and pride beyond what she ever imagined possible

Six is Wondrous New

A six-year-old girl is a most precious thing. A contradiction, a charm, a sprightly smile of blush and pride.

Even at five, she is a baby, my baby, hand and heart grasped in mine, and not yet initiated into the world of team sports, sleepovers, all-day school.

But at six, she is all about risk and motion, and fields undared, a tumblebug of queries to be posed full speed.

And six is wondrous new.

New challenges, new friends, new dreams, new notions unfold before her, a splendid banquet of awe and fear to be carefully tasted, some savored, some spat. And I in the shadows, waiting to offer encouragement that is rarely required or even asked, ponder her journey and my place in it.

I am not ready to release my grasp, my being, my daughter to the life that is becoming hers. Hers, not mine, in a separate form I can shape but cannot mold.

How do I capture the essence that is her, that is six, that is all my dream can ever be, of a child that is each day new, when I want to hold the moments in my hands forever? Not in my heart, not in my mind, but in my white-knuckled hands where her sum and substance never slip or fade.

And how do I tell her that she is beautiful, and amazing, and strong, and smart without sounding like her mother?  Mother, she might say, making her disclaimer in a tone I perfected.

Independence.  It’s a good thing, right? She runs ahead, skips pages, makes no quarrel with uncertainty, and feels not the qualms I harbor on her behalf.  She stands tall and straight, offering a smile at times most needed, unaware of evil or life’s disappointments more severe than a lost opportunity for ice cream. Her freckles sparkle in the afternoon sun and her toes reach for the sky, outstretched on a flying swing that traces a menacing arc.

She is my poetry, and I struggle to remember full verse. Yet, still I cry at its reading, and it moves me to want another just like her, and another and another and another, as shelter from the dangers of her journey.

But when I go to her at night and reach to share a bedtime hug, she makes me who I am. We lay still, our hearts beating to a matched pace, and she is six forever.

And one time, she holds longer than I, and offers a whispered rhyme as redress for growing up.

“I don’t want to let go because I love you so.”