Sweet Sixteen

Sixteen years ago on this day, at 9:26 PM, Amanda was born, and I became a mother.


Today, Amanda is a worldly, lovely, decent human being that I like a great deal. (I think the fact that I really like my kid is worth noting.

I am honour bound by the international code of mothering to love her. No matter what she does, no matter who she turns out to be and no matter how much laundry there might be on the way, I have to love her, and honestly….I don’t know how I would stop…but liking your kids is optional, and I like her anyway).

Today I’d like to offer Amanda my personal congratulations for surviving 16 years of dodgy mothering. My baby, my funny child, my sweetest first is sixteen years old. She is no longer anything I can call a child, no matter how desperately delusional my hopes are. She is the beginnings of a young woman….and I am going to need to begin to let go a little bit.

Before I do, there are a few things I’d like to thank her for.

I’d like to thank Amanda for being my guinea pig. (I bet her sisters are grateful for that too.) I’m sorry about the 26 parenting books I ripped through in the first six months of her life before I learned to trust my gut. I’m sorry about the night that I let her to cry in her bed, I don’t know what came over me. I mistakenly thought for just one evening that some 48 year old manly-arse of a pediatrician knew more about my baby than I did, and I believed him (however briefly) when he went on about a 9lb person needing to learn to “self-soothe”. I understand now that people who cannot possibly meet thier own needs are completely excused from the attempt. I was sleep deprived and fell for his fancy lure of the promise of sleep. Amanda had the decency to screech at the top of her lungs for the entire time that I followed his instructions, thus making it perfectly freakin’ clear that he knew nothing about my particular baby.


I’d like to thank Amanda for eating all of the fancy-ass baby food that I made. I don’t know what I was thinking when I made all that zucchini-apple puree. I thought it was important at the time. I understand now that I should have spent that time playing peek-a-boo and simply mashed a steamed apple with a fork.


I’d like to thank Amanda for the patience that she has taught me so far. All the times that she pushed me, all the times that she did things her own way, all the times that she refused to be anything other than the person she was….I had to learn.

I’d like to thank her for all the flexibility that she’s taught me. (The year she was two was really a time of profound growth for me). She taught me that just because I had it figured didn’t mean that my approach was right for everybody. That just because I thought I was in charge didn’t mean I was in charge and that just because I was the mother didn’t mean that she wasn’t a whole person with a right to an opinion that needed considering.


I’d like to thank her for helping me to learn to laugh at myself, to lose gracefully and to be empathetic. She taught me that a lot of the time being a grown up means sucking it up.


I have to thank her for being a demanding kid, because it taught me how to be generous, how to share…and that sleep is a privilege, not a right. Amanda was the person who taught me that people go before things, that love comes before money, that laughter is better than laundry and that your kids really, really don’t care if you dust the house, but that they would like to have the time you would have spent doing it.


Finally, I’d like to thank her for growing up so well so far, for not being pregnant or on smack, and for making the last 16 years a pretty good trip.

Happy Birthday Amanda.

129 thoughts on “Sweet Sixteen

  1. Wow I will be the first to mention how sweet all these words are and how nice you wrote it?
    Congrats to the big girl, and congrats to the mother for surviving 16 years of motherhood πŸ™‚
    I hope I will still love my daughter like this in 14 years and find out how less sleep it needed to survive the next 14 years πŸ™‚
    Have a big party today!

  2. Well done, Mum!
    Gosh I remember those car seats! Where did we borrow them from? Some high-minded civic program or another…

  3. Longtime lurker coming out. I want to post because our son, Matt turns 20 today. All your comments apply to him, too. (except for the getting pregnant part…I will just tell him that I’m thankful that he hasn’t gotten anyone pregnant). What can I say, kids born on May 30 are just naturally great!

  4. Happy Birthday to Amanda. WTG, Mom on a job well done. I’m staring my Girl’s 14th bday, and I hope I can be as generous and positive in two years as you are.

  5. A beautiful post and a beautiful girl! Congrats to both or you. Happy Birthday, Amanda!!
    I can only hope that I too like my kid in a few years. Sixteen is a long way from six months though, isn’t it??

  6. You have just reaffirmed my decision to become a parent. My 6 month old is deliciously sweet and an easy baby but some days I long for my old ways (old boobs, old sleep habits, old routines). I hope to learn as much from her as you have from Amanda. Happy sweet 16 to you both.

  7. Amanda is probably deeply embarassed by this, but we know what a wonderful, wonderful dedication it is.
    Happy birthday, Amanda.

  8. You sound exactly like my husband, who says his son is the one who taught him to be silly. And, honestly, every thing you said could have come right out of his mouth. Good job, mom!

  9. My grandmother always said first children were like the first [pre-Teflon] waffle — with the implication that they were for practice and that it was too bad you couldn’t throw them away. Glad you got/produced a keeper. (Works both ways, as you hinted — first children are for breaking mothers in. Meg, Sam, say thank you.) But quick, copyright and start producing a pastel series of plaques for new mothers saying “Sleep is a privilige, not a right.”
    P.S. (Steph — should the comment count seem thin, it will simply be another sign of Amerocentrism: we’ve got a holiday, so it doesn’t occur to us that you’ll post. Deplorable.)
    And it must be my bad value system — but isn’t anyone else going to mention that CAKE!?! I’m dyin’, here…

  10. Happy Birthday Amanda… from the one that came 15 years after you on your birthday… plus about 40 minutes…
    Huxley F. Cote

  11. *H*A*P*P*Y* *B*I*R*T*H*D*A*Y* !
    Best wishes to beautiful Amanda and her beautiful and wonderful mother.

  12. Fer FS (and I think you know what that means — email me if you need the translation), you got me crying again. Why? Because that is my story with Abigail…EXACTLY (well, except she’s almost 21 now, and I freaking CAN’T BELIEVE IT.) AND because we freaking had the same glasses 16 years ago. EXACTLY. And I had a perm to make my hair look like yours is naturally. I’m not kidding. I’ll get photographic proof if I can find it in this mess.
    Happy, happy birthday, Ms. Amanda. You are a treasure. Congratutions on making it this far so well, as your mum said!

  13. Happy Sweet Sixteen, Amanda. Imagine, having our Harlot for a Mum. And, dear Harlot, you may do an “almost” Finished Object Dance!

  14. YH your post is beautiful. It brought me to tears. How wonderful for Amanda. Happy Sweet 16th Birthday. You’ve done your Momma proud! Bravo. And Thank You Amanda… you are our future and I’m darned glad you are.

  15. Aww, that’s so sweet! My niece just turned 16 last week (and my nephew 12 the week before) and we spent yesterday at their birthday party. I can’t get over how quickly this time has passed–and I’m just the doting aunt, not the mother! Happy birthday to Amanda! (And, incidentally, today is my boss’s son’s 2nd birthday–obviously a good day–and a good month!)

  16. *wiping tears away* Happy Birthday Amanda! You rock!!! As one of the “old folks”, I am thinking back fondly to my 16th birthday. I hope you remember this birthday fondly for years to come. 16 is a great trip! enjoy. And stay away from the boys. They are nothing but trouble.

  17. You’ve made me cry. It may be the wonderful emotions of motherhood.
    OR. It could be those glasses.

  18. you wnet and made me all weepy… Happy Birthday Amanda. My dad always celebrates our birthdays with our mom, she gets a present to. So following his lead I must say also say happy 1st child birth day x 16 to you to Stephanie.

  19. You made me cry. What a lovely tribute to your beautiful Amanda. I hope I can do it so well when my daughters are 16.

  20. What a lovely gift to your daughter! It is so true that our oldest child teaches us almost as much as we teach them.
    Happy Birthday Amanda!

  21. I’m all verklempt. What a wonderful post on a 16th birthday. Happy Birthday Amanda! *opens a celebratory beer for your mother…and sneaks you a few sips on the side* πŸ˜€

  22. Oh my! The part about no pregnancy or smack brought tears to my eyes!
    Crack a brew open for your Mom Miss Sweet 16!
    But the real question is……have you ever been kissed yet? Hmmm?
    GREAT job Stephanie, only 2 more to go.
    By the way I have a very handsome 19 year old son for you Amanda. 6’4″, dark brown hair and eyes, wants to be a writer, interested?

  23. Dear Stephanie,
    I found it to be a very emotional moment when your oldest child turns 16, congrats to you and to Amanda.
    best wishes from halifax

  24. How do you manage to always write my heart in your posts? I remember telling my pedi, when he told me that I should let one or another of my girls learn to sleep on her own, that I respected his advice when it came to our partnership in health care, but that I didn’t know him or his kids well enough to take his parenting advice, that I had several friends that had lovely children that had shared sleep with them and I was going for it. Amazingly, he respected me even more (we are great pals now) and my kids are not at all emotionally dependant. I couldn’t pay one of them to come into my bed when Pete is travelling. And I get lonely :(. From the *dodgy mothering club* I wish Amanda a wonderful Sweet Sixteen. And the same to you on the anniversary of becoming a mother.

  25. What a beautiful daughter you have… You are both so lucky to have each other! Happy Birthday Amanda… Such a beautiful post and thank you, thank you for those pictures!

  26. Congrats to both of you for navigating life together so far! The fact that you like her now as a 16 year old bodes well for your future relationship. All the bests doctors that I know always say that moms know their kids much better than anyone else, and your words show just how well you know your Amanda.

  27. You absolutely made me cry. You are so honest in your feelings, thoughts and heart. What a great mother/daughter relationship!!
    I’m a lurker from Hawaii….I just had to come out and post….don’t ask why I’m knitting in Hawaii.

  28. Tillykke, Amanda! I hope you had a fabulous birthday.
    Your mother obviously loves you very much – I mean, she put a photo of her in those glasses out in public, just for you.
    (I had a pair like that, in blue. I thought they were hot. The mind reels.)

  29. Wow! it doesn’t seem a year ago already!
    Happy Birthday Amanda.
    May life always be an adventure for you.
    Many happy returns,
    liz πŸ™‚

  30. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, Amanda. I shall spare you the singing part, I’m just sitting here singing your birthday song in Danish be glad you cannot hear it.
    Steph, this was a very beautiful post to a very beautiful girl.

  31. Holy cow…what a beautiful sentiment! Amanda you should be very proud and YOU, you Harlot you, should be even prouder…you made me cry…
    from a fellow canuck knitter in Edmonton.

  32. Happy wishes for you both.
    Amanda is gorgeous! What a smile πŸ™‚ And you betcha your favorite needles she’s a good kid. She’s got a momma who loves life. What better example could she have?

  33. Oh, this is so beautiful, I’m in tears reading it….thinking of my tiny wee ones and how they, too, will someday be THAT old! πŸ˜‰ What a wonderful, loving Mama you are, and what a beautiful daughter you have. Thanks for sharing.

  34. Bravo to tossing the book! I found that the best mothering happens when you follow your heart anyway. Cry it out? Sounds pretty heartless to me. πŸ™‚

  35. I, personally, am intrigued with the simple line that you like your child. That is cool. My oldest is 14 years old and borderline some days. I feel terribly guilty. Yes, I do love her, but liking….sometimes not so much. So you say there is hope? If we can just survive a bit longer? By the way, fabulous cake. MMMMmmmmm whipped cream and strawberries. Good choice.

  36. congrats on your beautiful daughter. the water fountain picture took my breath away. thanks for sharing; those of us with the still tiny tots need this perspective to see what it is all for sometimes.

  37. What beautiful words for your daughter–they made my cry. You could never give her a better gift. My oldest will be 16 soon, and I think you covered everything I feel. Congratulations and thank you!

  38. Thank you so much for this post, YH. My husband and I have been parents for sixteen days. Your words bring tears to my eyes. Whether they are tears of love or fear or both, only time will tell. (I guess we can’t rule out sleep deprivation or raw nipples, either.)

  39. Congratulations! I love reading about all the things she taught you, and looking at that first picture imagining you as someone who doesn’t know that stuff yet. How sweet. Thanks for your note about our baby, BTW. We are entering his daily “fussy period” and his 6 pm 5-minute crying jag right now as I read your post. πŸ™‚

  40. Geez! I’m totally weepy now. *sniff* Now excuse me while I go upstairs and tell my 17 month old that he is never, ever growing up. Ever. I mean it.

  41. you speak to all our hearts- of course you have a marvelous 16 year old, you followed your mother harlot heart! Who are these so called experts? they are not motheres of babies…
    knit on! Hey I had those glasses too….

  42. You made me cry. Thank you and a birthday squeeze to all three. *Mom, Dad and Amanda.*

  43. happy birthday amanda, and congrats, stephanie. trust me it is hard letting go (my girls are 19 & 20) but you can do it. just give her an intro to mr washie!

  44. Happy Birthday Amanda. What a nice tribute, tasty looking cake, and cute pictures. Enjoy this year. It will be one to remember!

  45. Happy Birthday, Amanda. Happy Birthday to Mom Steph, too, who has grown as a result of Amanda, and who admits that she has grown (Amanda, you may stand up and cheer now!)

  46. Wow.
    I hope I have what it takes to write anything half as wonderful when my darling demanding daughter turns sixteen. I’m assuming of course, that she and I will both make it that far. πŸ™‚
    If your mothering was dodgy, then excellent mothering is impossible. or…. dodgy mothering is exactly what most kids need.
    Thanks for reminding us all…
    and Happy Birthday Amanda!

  47. Happy Birthday Amanda. Congratulations Steph on a job well done. She is a beautiful young lady.

  48. Well, the clinches it. you next bookbookbook should be on parenting!
    Happy birthday to the birthday girl and just as a hint,
    It gets even better as they grow passed this!!
    Snargle’s mom (of two now 28 and 26!)

  49. Congrats to both of you on this milestone. Stephanie, you’re clearly a wonderful (and extremely fortunate) mother. What a lovely tribute to your daughter and to motherhood as a whole. I hope my kids and I enjoy the same kind of relationship when they reach their teen years. Happy Birthday Amanda.

  50. congrats on your beautiful daughter. the water fountain picture took my breath away. thanks for sharing; those of us with the still tiny tots need this perspective to see what it is all for sometimes.

  51. Happy birthday, Amanda! (Where are the rest of the candles? Dear, did YOU buy more candles? Where did you hide them? Shall we light the strawberries instead? I have SO been there!)
    Grimaced at seeing my old glasses on your face (and did one lens turn yellow on yours, too?) Loved the lineup in the leaves. And Amanda, my 17-year-old son thinks you’re cute, and would probably kill me for saying that out loud. I didn’t type this till he left the room.

  52. I got more than a little misty-eyed reading this and sent the entry for my 20 yr old daughter to read. DianeL

  53. Happy Birthday Amanda!! May all the years that follow be just as wonderful as the first sixteen were-for both of you. There just seems to be some magical bond between a mom and her first born. Like you said-she made you a mom-and so much more. Hope you had a wonderful day.

  54. Awwwwwww Thanks Stephanie and Happy Birthday Amanda! My oldest is graduating from High School Friday and in August I will have to “let go”, I’m still trying to figure out how to do that considering I don’t “sleep” until he comes home at night…do I stay awake for a month until he comes home to ‘visit’!!!!!…I have a feeling this won’t be a pretty picture.
    Anyway, you truly have a way with words… and kids really are the greatest teachers of life!

  55. Happy Birthday, Amanda! And Happy Birthday, Mama!!
    What a wondeful, wonderful post!

  56. And despite the snark, the slammed doors, the screaming and the inability to properly deal with clothes-sneaking siblings, I’m sure she loves you too.
    People like you make me really appreciate my own mother. πŸ™‚

  57. Harlot, warn a girl before you roll out such a wonderful post that leaves me sobbing and wanting to call my Mom at midnight! Happy birthday, Amanda.

  58. Very lovely tribute. You must have done much more than “dodgy” parenting to have things going so well at this point. Congrats!

  59. Congratulations MOM for making it 16 years πŸ™‚ Too often mothering is discounted, unappreciated. Let me be the one to say YEAH MOM! You did good…

  60. That first picture?
    Probably the cutest baby picture I’ve ever seen.
    Happy birthday to Amanda! And happy memories to you, Stephanie.

  61. Happy Birthday to Amanda and Congratulations to you for what I think are more than superior parenting skills. I only hope I can do a job half as good…..if I even get to the ‘having children’ bit in my life!

  62. Aww, congratulations to you both. You write so touchingly that I seriously had to wipe a fraction of a tear out of the corner of my eye, because, well, I’ll never get to have that experience, and I’m so happy you got to.

  63. happiest of birthdays to you, Amanda!
    I remember 16 fondly, if not entirely. For me, it was the year I could wear makeup, get a driver’s license (I didn’t, but I could) and the year I could finally go on “dates.” I wasted a lot of that year being terrified of what others thought of me… If you can possibly help it, try to avoid that. They won’t care whether you worry or not, and you’ll have more fun if you don’t.
    (Oh, and that pic with the phone is SUPA-FLY!)

  64. Belated *Happy Birthday* to Amanda! Congrats to both of you for doing such a wonderful job!

  65. Wow, what a wonderfaul declaration of love. Congrats to you BOTH and I now have a template for when my infnat hits 16, in about two years. (Eeek! When did *that* happen?!?)
    P.S. do you have some deal with the manufacturers of kleenex? I have it on good authority that there’s not a dry eye left in the entire blogosphere…

  66. you’ve made me cry and i don’t even have a kid! but i do have a wonderful mum… have a great time celebrating!

  67. Wow, happy birthday Amanda! My own baby sister turned sixteen just last week and while I’m not her mother, I certainly love her and feel as proud of her as you do of your daughter! Congratulations on successfully raising such a fine young woman! (so far, haha!)

  68. mmmm birthday cake! Very best birthday wishes to Amanda.
    Congratulations to Stephanie on writing the most beautiful tribute to MOTHERHOOD, as well as to your beautiful daughter – She’s a ‘Job well done’ Mum!

  69. Best post ever.
    Aara, whose eldest is 17, and who is still haunted by that one “let-him-cry” night.

  70. Wow!
    You expressed your love for your child so eloquently(sp?). My son just celebrated his sixteenth birthday the day before. As he back into the driveway (he just got his G1) with his father in the passenger seat last night, I knew that life has changed yet again for our family.
    Happy Belated Birthday to you Amanda. I know a really nice sixteen year old boy. :~)

  71. Wow, I’m crying from your beautiful words…words that are in my head also. My baby graduates from high school in 3 weeks and goes to college in September. Many, many emotions are surfacing right now that I’m struggling with. She is the human being that I wanted to raise and did raise, but my inner critic is pulling up all the mistakes that I made as a mother…why do we do that? Thank you for your honesty! Carolyn H. in CT.

  72. it was the red striped onesie that gave her the sense of humor!
    really thou, congrats! ya done good.
    marie in florida

  73. I, too, remember the horrors of the “let him cry” theory. Unfortunately, mine had colic — at one week old. I had to let him cry, because I was crying just as hard as he was. Thank goodness the ped. gave me some medicine for us both. I really like the part about “liking” her — I currently feel the same about my three kids myself, although it wasn’t always the case. And I’m even beginning to really like my step-daughter. Life doesn’t get much better than this!
    Happy Birthday, Amanda!

  74. That was the sweetest tribute I’ve ever read. What wonderful moving words that brought tears to my eyes. A very happy birthday to Amanda.

  75. Ah, thank you for this! My first will be sixteen in the fall and your words have me all teary! Happy birthday to Amanda and job well done to mom!

  76. Happy 16th Birthday, Amanda! Well done. Congrats to you, too, for raising a pretty good mum. Hugs, kisses, and tears all around (the cake looks yummy).

  77. Wow! What a gift you have to put your feelings into words! I have two teenage daughters and affirmation of the good is very powerful!

  78. Wow!What a gift you have to put your feelings into words! I have two teenage daughters and affirmation of the good is very powerful!

  79. Happy Birthday to Amanda, her Mum who loves her beyond all reason, and to the whole family. Thanks for the sentimental sniffles! My daughter is 7, and sooo her own person. What a ride we’ve chosen!

  80. Stephanie – What lovely thoughts and how wonderful of you to share them with Amanda and with us. One of my most prized possessions is the hand-made birthday card my mother made for me one year – this strange and wonderful relationship that exsists between mothers and daughters has many sweet moments. Thanks for the memories!

  81. Happy birthday, Amanda! What great pictures and wonderful commentary/thoughts below them. Congrats to a great mother for raising a great kid who is not pregnant or on smack!

  82. Wow. I want to be your daughter too! I want someone to write stuff like that about me! Wow. Someone remind me to write stuff about that for my son in about 14 years when he turns 16. He might not truly appreciate it at the time, but it’s so important to say. You have very lucky kids!

  83. My dear son is almost 7. I can’t believe how fast the time has gone! But I am greatful for every minute.
    Happy Birthday, Amanda! (Hug your momma!)

  84. How beautiful. . . I look forward to the day that I become a mom. . . Happy Birthday Amanda, and many more!

  85. Thank you for letting us all in to your lives so fully. I don’t have the greatest mom in the world and seeing how dedicated and wonderful you are with your children gives me hope that some day, I can be the mom I want to be for my children. Your journal is one that I read every day because you are constantly revealing human truths in your writing. You don’t hold back with us. Thank you again for letting us live these moments with you.

  86. Happy 16th to your daughter and congratulations to you for bringing up such a beautiful woman. And congratulations to you for keeping a sense of humour through it all. Heh!
    My son has just turned 15 and I’m just amazed how fast time has gone by.
    Hugs to your family.

  87. What a wonderful and touching tribute to your daughter. I hope her birthday was wonderful and you have raised such a great girl. I’m sure it will only get better.

Comments are closed.