Dear Amanda

On this day 18 years ago, I was feeling pretty cocky. You were born and I sincerely thought I was equipped. I really did. Even though you were my first, I knew my way around babies and I wasn’t afraid of them, and I was even pretty sure that I had fantastic baby tending skills. Moreover, this parenting thing seemed to me like it was going to be pretty straightforward.

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I mean, I knew it would have its challenging moments, but overall, I thought I was going to be really good at it, and that it would be something I excelled at. I was pretty sure that with all of the books I had read and how much research I had done that I would have a great grip on it. I thought that those parents who were losing it all over the place were just not working hard enough at it. I was going to be a relaxed mother.

I think, darling girl, that we can both agree that I have been the exact opposite of relaxed in every way that there is to be not relaxed, and I now I really don’t know whether to apologize or demand thanks for that. I don’t know what went wrong with my plan, my plan for how easy it was all going to be, but when you screamed your way through your first night on this earth, despite everything the midwife and I could do to comfort you, I started to wonder if I hadn’t received a standard issue baby.

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This was confirmed when you screamed your way through the first 4 months of your life (thanks for entirely skipping sleep too. That wasn’t at all challenging) and then spent the next several years trying to kill yourself in a new way every thirty five seconds. At nine months you walked. At ten months you climbed to the top of the fridge and sat up there eating bananas.

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At 11 months I thought about tying you to the family bed so you didn’t do all of it in the night while I was sleeping. At 18 months you had a full vocabulary with which to add insult to injury (your favourite words were “No” and “Not Mum” and “Me do it”) and had developed a proclivity for biting other children and taking off all of your clothes in public. (Really, no-one could help but be impressed with your stripping skills. 15 seconds with my back turned on you in the grocery store and you would be bare bummed by the apricots, chatting with some stranger. I can’t stress how glad I am that you outgrew that.) By two you had the temper tantrum down to an art form that helplessly defeated even your “I’ve had four children – just try me” Grandmother, and you had discovered that your powers had their most devastating effect when you alternated incredible happiness with tornados of poor mood so that I never knew what would hit me.

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At three we had to move from our apartment to a house, since you had developed an intense determination to leap from the balcony. (You felt that only stupid children were injured in falls. Smart girls landed on the grass and were just fine. Since you were sure you were a smart girl….we moved.) At four you could read and frequently defeated adults with your keen intellect, and at five my life with you was sort of like Survivor, since there was almost nobody, adult or child who could outwit, outlast or outplay you.

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By six you had discovered the full force of your endearing charm, and by seven we were in the teachers office at school while she explained that you were the loveliest, most darling child she had ever met….but that we were really going to have to help them bring you on board with the system. (What an idea. Why didn’t I think of that. Bring you on board with the system. Huh.)

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By ten you were off and running in a broad social circle, largely immune to maternal remonstration, and no matter what happened or caught fire or blew up or broke, you kept saying the same thing to me that you always have. “Mum. Relax. I can handle it.”

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By your teens I spent a lot of my mothering time wondering why you had to reinvent the wheel all the time. (I should perhaps have looked up the definition of adolescence and saved myself a little stinking time.) I had already learned everything you were experimenting with. Why wouldn’t you just do what I told you?

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I knew that boys aren’t always sincere and that if a girl is gossiping to you about everybody else, that you can bet she’s gossiping about you to them. I knew that other girl was a liar (and her shirt was totally skanky), I knew what that boy wanted. (Joe knew too.) I knew that if you procrastinated on an essay you would regret it and I knew that if you really invested in school your life would be so much easier later on. I knew you would get caught if you skipped science. Your teen years turned into me following you around trying to tell you all the things I had learned the hard way, desperately trying to save you any kind of pain at all… and you staring at me like I was an idiot who didn’t know anything and proceeding to learn them all the hard painful way anyway.

I have spent the last 18 years being awestruck by the wonder that is you, someone I made in my spare time, and trying desperately to deal best with your epic personality and qualities. Tenacity. Intelligence. Constructive discontent. Persistence. Sensitivity. A fantastic sense of humour. Independence. Mercy. Fearlessness. Kindness. Equity.

Now, these qualities are terrible qualities in a child. North America wants children (especially little girls) to be polite. Obedient. Pliable. Kids who fight back and say no and think for themselves are hard to raise and not thought well of at all. We all talk about how “good” an obedient child is, and It struck me at some point while I was raising you, that I couldn’t have a child who did as they were told really well, and then suddenly expect you to turn into an adult who was assertive, independent and free thinking. I realized you couldn’t tell a kid “do what I tell you” and then turn around when they became a grown-up and suddenly say “think for yourself”. (Well. You can, but I don’t think it makes the best adults.)

In short, I realized that people are adults for a lot longer than they are kids, and that it makes more sense to cultivate wonderful adult skills than those traits that make kids easy to take care of. (Mostly I realized this, my child, because you wouldn’t do otherwise.)

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Over the last 18 years, in which I believe that you and I have tested each others patience at least once a day, often to the point of tears, I have often gotten through by telling myself “these are great qualities in an adult. She’s going to be an adult longer than she is going to be 3 (or 6, or 9 or 13 or 15). Do not kill her now.” (I don’t know what strategy you used to keep from killing me.)

And now it’s here. You’re an adult. A beautiful legal adult who (at least on paper) doesn’t need her mother. You can vote. You can move across the country. You can start a business or join the peace corps or ….You can do whatever wonderful thing you want, and you can do it all without my permission.

I am scared to death.

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Motherhood is the only occupation I can think of where your eventual goal is to put yourself out of business, and I have swung back and forth these last few years, hoping one moment that you will leave (I admit, we both probably know what days those were) and wishing the next moment that you will never leave and I will be allowed to try and keep you safe and with me forever. While I am not sure that I am entirely ok with this growing up thing…I know now that I have to at least start letting you go a little bit. I need to worry less about you and send you more out there, and I will. (Not all at once though. The world is freakin’ huge.) Please try to be patient with me, it’s hard for me to let go of my job. Try to remember that up until now if something happened to you they could put me in prison, and in my defence, you are my eldest and the kid I had to practice on.

I hope, dear Amanda, that all of this leaping without looking and enthusiastic going forward has taught you to at least scan the ground a little as you fly, and I’m going to try and trust that you know how to pick yourself up if you land hard….after all, all of the things that have made it a challenging, crazy ride to be your mother….

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These are terrific qualities in an adult.

I’m proud of you, and I love you. Happy 18th.

545 thoughts on “Dear Amanda

  1. Happy Amanda’s birthday to _you_ Stephanie… remind your darlin that she’s never too big to be your child (in case she tries to forget at times)… and hug each other. From me. Go, GIRLS!
    (darling photos– you talented thing, you)

  2. What a beautiful tribute to your daughter, I’m forwarding the link to every Mom I know!
    Happy Birthday, Amanda!
    LindaD

  3. How absolutely lovely, funny and touching. I hope in 18 years I get to say something just like it to my own daughter. Congratulations to the both of you on reaching such a momentous milestone!

  4. Happy Birthday Amanda~~What a lovely thing to write and lovely pictures. I tell my 20 year old son that no matter how old he is, or how big he is (6′ 4″) he will always be my little boy (same with my other ones).

  5. Happy Birthday!! To Mum and Daughter!
    Congratulations on Surviving to Both of you!

  6. Happy Birthday Amanda! You won’t believe how fast the next 18 years are going to fly!

  7. That is very nearly exactly what my Mother wrote in my 18th Birthday card. Happy Birthday Amanda, enjoy the good parts of having a Mom who can put herself into words so well (we can skip the parts where it’s not so pleasant).

  8. “Motherhood is the only occupation I can think of where your eventual goal is to put yourself out of business.” That is so beautiful and I really love this line, yet my mom reminds me everyday that she will never stop being my mother. So you aren’t out of business yet!

  9. Geez, way to make me all teary. Happy birthday, Amanda! May this year bring you unimaginable amounts of happiness, joy, and wonder.

  10. Wow. I’m a new mother, my son will be 8 weeks old tomorrow, and reading your birthday post to Amanda has made me excited and terrified about what lies ahead. Happy Birthday Amanda, and congrats Stephanie, for making it this far.

  11. What wonderful words. You remind me of why, sometimes, I’m so relieved to have never had children and so insanely jealous of those who did.
    Happy Birthday, Amanda!

  12. This made me cry. I was having one of those particularly difficult parenting nights in which we all 3 ended up in separate rooms sulking, and two of us are STILL sulking. I read this and started bawling and now I’m not sulking anymore, but the teenagers think I have lost my marbles because I am giggling and sniffling at the computer screen again.
    Thanks for reminding me. I needed to read this tonight. You put it so perfectly.
    Happy birthday, to Amanda and happy birthday of an 18 year old to you, mama.

  13. Happy Birthday Amanda. That is such a great tribute. I wish that I had thought of that as my daughter grew up. If it is any consolation, I had the same worries about my formerly independent-minded teen and now that she is 25 she is my best friend and someone I can turn to when I am need someone to talk to. Sure, she tried to fly a few times and got hurt but is now a smart young lady. On top of it all, she is a pretty good knitter!

  14. What a beautiful post. HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMANDA!!!
    (is it creepy that hundreds of people you don’t know will wish you a happy b-day today????)
    :p
    K

  15. Congrats on what sounds to me to be a wonderful 18 years, may many + years be ahead and fruitful.
    I just realized recently what my parents went through when I was watchibg my horde. Just wait some time in the distant future you’ll see your mum was right all a long and think “Darn it sje was right the whole time” and you’ll do the same to yours.

  16. Okay, as an eldest child, I can very much empathize with Amanda’s position, and I am so very glad that my parents came to the realization fairly early on in my adult life that I could “handle it”. It is, I am certain, what has made our relationship as strong and healthy as it is.
    On the other hand, seeing as I’m nearly the same age as her mother, I got bit of a “there but for the grace of God” feeling.
    Still, having taught some of the next generation, I think you’re right on the mark about us needing more Amandas in the world. Thanks for contributing to the pool.

  17. Hmmmm, I think my 8 year old (and 4 year old for that matter) may be a clone of your daughter. I say they are forces of nature. Thank you Stephanie for sharing you words to your daughter. I may print them and read them (over and over and over) when I’m wishing my girls were ‘more obedient’ and ‘listened better’. They will someday be magnificent adults (if I don’t kill them first) as your daughter has become. Be proud, you’ve done a hell of a job.

  18. I don’t think you’ll ever be entirely out of business…at least I hope I’m not!
    Happy Birthday Amanda! And Congratulations Stephanie for helping her to become the wonderful woman she is today.

  19. Congrats on what sounds to me to be a wonderful 18 years, may many + years be ahead and fruitful.
    I just realized recently what my parents went through when I was watchibg my horde. Just wait some time in the distant future you’ll see your mum was right all a long and think “Darn it sje was right the whole time” and you’ll do the same to yours.

  20. A fantastic tribute to a daughter who sounds like she well deserves it. This brought back such memories. And didn’t that time fly by? Weren’t those baby years just a few months ago? Happy birthday to Amanda. Go out and live well and make the world a better place. And don’t freak your mother out any more than absolutely necessary.

  21. Oh, how beautiful. Wise, wonderful words that I will try to remember when my six year old girl rolls her eyes at me and my two year old son opens the car door with his toes again (while we’re driving, no less!)

  22. What a lovely tribute – Happy Birthday Amanda!
    (This sounds an awful lot like the seven years I’ve had thus far with my own daughter…. thankfully we have recently landed in a “system” that realizes there are things more important than just “getting on board”.)

  23. that’s so lovely. i am crying thinking of how lovely it is and my own future (as i listen to my 3 month old make sleeping noises).
    happy birthday amanda. go forth and continue to make your mum proud.

  24. that’s so lovely. i am crying thinking of how lovely it is and my own future (as i listen to my 3 month old make sleeping noises).
    happy birthday amanda. go forth and continue to make your mum proud.

  25. Happy Birthday Amanda!
    Stephanie, is this something with oldests? My oldest is 4 and tests and tantrums and taunts her mother with the best of them. Thanks for giving me a new outlook on it. Yep, being able to cut off all your hair without benefit of a mirror or decent scissors and have it coming out looking nice and even with a wedge in the back and bangs in the front…that *would* be a great skill to have as an adult. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m actually quite jealous.
    Now tell me that the rest are docile and well-mannered and save my sanity? Yes. I know. No need to laugh like that.

  26. Priceless! What a great tribute to your lovely daughter from her talented, smart mother. πŸ˜‰

  27. HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMANDA!!!
    Here Here Steph! If everything you’ve written is true, you’ve raised a hell of a woman and I can only hope to as well with mine.
    Love and Laughter,
    Amy
    ~where’s the klennex?

  28. Happy birthday Amanda!!! And it’s my birthday too(though I turn slightly more than 18…)
    Beautiful post, Stephanie!

  29. Happy Birthday Amanda!!
    Reading that post really makes more sense of things I thought I already knew about my relationship with my mother over these last 27 years.

  30. Happy Birthday Amanda!
    My son will be 18 next year and I’m already trying to get used to the idea that he won’t really have to listen to his mother anymore. Well he will, as long as he is still living here, OK, as long as I’m his mother, but will he do as I say!!! Sigh. It’s such a big world out there.

  31. 18 is a lovely, lovely year, Amanda.
    As 22 looms in just a few days, I realize that the magic of age is gone; and I wish I’d enjoyed that magic more when I had it. This year is a year of wonder for you. So many things are unfolding at your feet, and I’m not just talking about your bedroom floor!
    I hope you really feel out this whole “oh man, they trust me to be an adult thing” now, while you can still come home to Mom and ask her to help you fix it. Kiss a few frogs, smell a lot of flowers, and get your hands dirty. (You can wash them later.)
    The possibilities are just beginning. And you, the birthday girl, are in a wonderful position to try them all! So happy birthday, best of luck, and give it a go! Can’t wait for you to have the most magical year of your life.

  32. *snfl* Happy Birthday, Amanda! And you too, Stephanie. You both did a great job – thanks for sharing, Steph, what a wonderful post. Amanda? Have a blast, girl. You won’t believe the changes you’ll go through in the next ten years. And beyond. πŸ˜‰
    (And now I’m missing my mom, too. Steph, she would’ve loved you – and vice versa. Thanks for bringing her a little bit closer tonight.)

  33. Happy Birthday, Amanda from another eldest whose mother practiced on her.
    I think I was about two before my mother realized how far I was from what the ‘ideal child.’ That was when I went for a walk with my dog and showed up in the neighbor’s driveway — two miles away across the Arizona desert. Even my mom now says I turned out better than OK, though she did manage to in still in me a fear of strange places and power tools.
    Enjoy your transition to adulthood. It’s a great ride.

  34. Happy Birthday, Amanda!
    And congratulations on surviving the first 18 years, Stephanie!
    P.S. Say, Amanda? Don’t tell your mom I said this, but if I could give you one bit of advice as you approach the next few years it’s this: travel. Travel travel travel. Every chance you get. Even if you’re broke and have to sleep on someone’s floor, get out there and see as much of the world as you can. Soon enough you’ll have a job and rent and a family of your own even (or at least a very demanding cat – grin!), and travel gets more difficult then.
    Besides, of all the things you might spend too much money on these next few years, experiences are one of the few things which cannot be repossessed. (Whoopi Goldberg said that in a commencement address once, and I’ve totally stolen it.)

  35. Happy Birthday, Amanda!!! Now that you are an adult, does it mean that you will stop pretending to not like knitting? Looks like you did a great job, Stephanie.

  36. Congratulations Harlot and Amanda! You both made it! Even though it’s officially Amanda’s big day it’s your big day too Stephanie! To raise a wonderful daughter like that is an amazing accomplishment. (It always makes me feel like there should be a lifetime achievement award for mothers!) My son was a great baby for the first 2 days, then on the third day he started crying around 4pm and was still going strong at 1am. We tried everything, but he wouldn’t stop crying. Oh no……COLIC! He cried for at least 3 hours and up to 5 hours every night for the first 7 months of his life. It was awful, but Thank God he eventually he grew out of it. While he wasn’t quite as adventurous as Amanda, believe me when I say that I could tell you stories that would both give you nightmares for months and make you laugh till you cried LOL! My son is 20 now and I’m not sure how that happened. He has a steady girlfriend and is going to college. Amazing! Thanks for sharing some of your stories about Amanda. She sounds like a wonderful young woman! See you tonight at Webs!
    PS: I tell my son that the parent thing is like that children’s book where the mom says,
    “I love you forever, I love you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.” He always groans, but then he smiles and gives me a big hug!I think he likes the thought.

  37. My parents did a similar speech for me when I turned 18.
    It really means a lot to a child to hear her(/his) parents admit how difficult and scary and funny it was to bring you up (I’m the oldest, too).
    So happy birthday, Amanda. πŸ™‚ You have the coolest mum ever. πŸ˜‰

  38. It’s hard to believe how the years have flown by since the blog started. A beautiful tribute, Steph.
    Happy Birthday Amanda!! Welcome to adulthood!

  39. Thank you for so wonderfully putting all that to words. I too am the mother of a new 18 year old.
    He just announced he plans to head out West in the Fall to work at a resort in Tahoe. (He’s quite the snowboarder.) I guess he has to get that out of his system, but I wish he was going on to school. (He can when he’s ready.) Reading your post made me feel better too. I ran into a new mother at the grocery once. She used to work at the day care my kids attended. She said “I used to think when I had my child they wouldn’t do this or that…” “You know what, they have a mind of their own!” she said. It often makes me smile to think of that. Graduation is this weekend. I already have me little box of tissues…

  40. Happy Birthday Amanda! And Stephanie – Thankyou for showing so beautifully that it *does* get better! I have a very challenging, very intelligent 5 year old daughter and there are days when I despair of ever seeing her fully grown and still talking to me! You’ve inspired me to get through another day. Thankyou!

  41. Well sheesshhhh I am sobbing my heart out now, my seven year old boy sounds SOOO like your eldest and wow you have made me think a lot, thanks for this post you have no idea how much comfort it brings to me!!!
    Happy 18th too before you know it you will be 30+, have kids of your own driving you nuts and be looking at your mother and thinking wow now I know how you felt mum and i am pretty sure my kid(s) are getting their own back for you πŸ˜‰ LOL

  42. Happy birthday Amanda, and well survived Harlot! My own ewe lamb is 18, and at the moment is overseas on a university orchestra tour where there are no responsible adults. I know that at over 18, they’re all adults, but you know what I mean, no mothers and suchlike. Aaargh! I don’t think I’ll ever grow out of worrying about her, and trying to tell her of my mistakes so she can avoid them, but have to watch her make them all herself too. She wasn’t a beginner’s baby either. Sleep was a stranger to her. But nothing worthwhile is wrought without strife, and I like to think that it shows. Certainly shows with Amanda!

  43. Happy birthday Amanda, indulge your mum a bit, it is difficult to let go :-). I know, my own daughter will be 18 in September and my son is 21 in a fortnight!

  44. Great post & happy birthday to Amanda. I laughed & cried (blame the hormones). Good thing there’s pretty much nobody at work yet.

  45. Happy Birthday to a very lucky girl. Thanks for sharing the lovely pictures.

  46. Happy birthday to both of you. The other day my 17 year old and I were standing in front of the mirror brushing our hair, and it almost surprised me to this this young beautiful strong woman next to me. I paused a moment to remember all the times we stood in front of the mirror, from the time she had to stand on the counter to see herself, to today when she is now getting ready to fly.
    Caroline, the SocPixie

  47. Happy Birthday Amanda!
    You sound just like my 21 year old, We used to introduced her as “Haley, 7 years old going on 17!”
    Letting go is never easy, but as long as your kids know you’ll always listen if they want to talk (even if you have to bite your tongue not to give your own opinion πŸ˜‰ )They’ll always come back to the nest.

  48. Happy Birthday Amanda–and felicitations to her parents!
    I am in the midst of “listen to me cause I’ve been through it before” with my daughter. You’re right, she’ll ignore me and learn it on her own. But she is so much mine..and isn’t that the best thing?

  49. Happy birthday, Amanda! What a loving and honest tribute, Steph. Best wishes for a wonderful year, A — and just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you have to prove it all in the first day, week, month, etc. of legally being an adult!

  50. Oh man. I just gave birth to my first child 2 months ago. A baby girl. Your post is beautifully written, and kind of scares me! Heh. Happy Birthday Amanda!

  51. Happy Happy Birthday Amanda! The world needs way more young women like you!
    Luckily I have a seven year old that fits the bill to a tee so far and thankyou so very much Steph for describing my Indi perfectly. See having read what you wrote, which was absolutely beautiful, fills me with hope that she will turn out just as wonderful…and I will not kill her.

  52. The Beavis is 13, and his independence is astonishing. And scary. I know he’ll go out there and take the world on, no problem – but I hope he still sometimes needs his mommy to give him a hug and tell him it will be okay.
    Thanks for summing parenthood up in such a beautiful way!

  53. Happy Birthday Amanda!
    Now we all know the real reason your mother gets anxious about flying…she must subliminally relate it to you!

  54. It all hit home in a wonderful way – My only daughter (out of 4 children) always had WAY more adult skills than kid skills ( I took her out of school when they asked us to “bring her onboard” she didn’t want to get on that ship!) She just turned 22 – has bought her own home….loves life…is confident and secure(way more than me)
    Thank you for saying it all so well (as you always do)
    Happy Birthday Amanda!

  55. Happy Birthday to Amanda! And Happy birthing day to you and Joe.
    Stephanie, you are an amazing writer. Thank you so much for your willingness to share such personal with the entire world.

  56. I laughed, I cried. Thank you. Happy Birthday, Amanda.
    from the sleepless mother of 19 and 16 yr old young ladies

  57. Happy Birthday Amanda! Best wishes for the coming year. (Way to make me cry before work, Steph, especially since I’m not even a mom.)

  58. Stephanie,
    That was an amazing and beautiful tribute to your daughter, who could very well be my daughter, who is just 8 now. Thanks for putting it so well, and reminding me that these qualities that we so often bump heads on are really qualities that will serve her well as an independent thinking adult, which is what I really want for her!

  59. Thank you Steph–that was an absolute beautiful treatise on Mothering. And Happy Birthday to Amanda! I’m sure she’ll do well. πŸ™‚

  60. How dare you make me cry before my first cup of coffee.
    And thanks. I’m going to go hold my girls tight now. How wonderful that they are plucky, determined and Amanda-like, even at their wee ages of 2 and 4.

  61. *sniff* *dab at the eyes*
    Have a great birthday, and be full out 18 all year long. It goes by surprisingly fast.

  62. Happy Birthday, Amanda, and Happy Birthing Day, Stephanie.
    You are both beautiful inside and out. Enjoy the day.

  63. Happy Birthday Amanda!
    What a beautiful way to start a morning πŸ™‚
    You’ve really said everything I’ve been thinking lately about my soon to be 18 year old (July 14)who has been really really defiant lately – this too shall pass

  64. What a lovely tribute. It brought tears to my eyes too. For me, it was the second child who was the most challenging. He is going to be 20 this summer.
    Many, many times over the years I muttered that mantra about how his most difficult traits were going to serve him well as adult. He became a paramedic by his 19th birthday by the way.
    Oh, you left out the part where your daughter is setting a sterling example for her sisters.
    Happy birthday amanda.

  65. “Tenacity. Intelligence Constructive Discontent. [I love that one!] Persistence. Sensitivity. Humor.Independence. Mercy. Fearlessness. Kindness. Equity.”
    Sounds like she did do what you say, totally! She’s wearing your genes, and we are grateful (hardest and best thing anyone can do for the world is to raise a good kid).
    Congrats to you both!

  66. OMG!!!what a way to start the morning- crying my eyes out.! what a wonderful way to tell your daughter you love her.! would you mind if i used
    part of it?? my daughter is turning 20 and some of the things you said — well,(for me)there is no better way to say it then the how you said it.
    thanks for the great tribute to your daughter!

  67. As I’m sitting here are the computer, nursing my climbing, running, jumping, tearing into everything, demanding, independent, impossible to raise 11.5 month old, this has me in tears. (I won’t even start to go into what my 7 year old has been putting me through lately!) Thanks for reminding me why I’m putting up with all of this!
    And happy birthday Amanda!

  68. Happy Birthday to Amanda and congratulations to Mum for 18 years! What a beautiful post and beautiful girl.

  69. Isn’t it funny how we spent all those years fighting our parents, determined to be our own separate selves?
    Then one day we wake up and find out we have turned into our mothers.
    Then we realize that isn’t such a bad thing after all.
    Happy Birthday Amanda. Life is wonderful and the best is always yet to come!

  70. Happy, happy birthday Amanda. You’re a beautiful young lady with the world at your feet.
    While reading my morning comics, I came across this one:
    http://www.savagechickens.com/blog/index.html
    Today’s comic is dedicated to Knitters Without Borders, and they link here!! Thought it was tre cool πŸ˜€

  71. What a lovely post – Mothering is the most difficult of jobs with the most rewards! Happy Birthday, Amanda, and many thanks to you for sharing your gifted mom with us…

  72. That ecstatic happiness one moment and utter discontent the next? That’s a Gemini thing.
    Ask my mother πŸ˜‰
    Happy Birthday, Amanda!

  73. Happy Birthday! Thanks Stephanie for letting some of us out there know we are not the only ones alternating between being proud and pulling our hair out. My daughter is 10 and it is a struggle some days to remember that I do want her to be able to fight for herself, just not against me. The day she taught her brother who is 15 months younger than her(he was 9 months) to climb the baby gate…She is lucky she made it…

  74. Happy Birthday! Thanks Stephanie for letting some of us out there know we are not the only ones alternating between being proud and pulling our hair out. My daughter is 10 and it is a struggle some days to remember that I do want her to be able to fight for herself, just not against me. The day she taught her brother who is 15 months younger than her(he was 9 months) to climb the baby gate…She is lucky she made it…

  75. Happy Birthday! Thanks Stephanie for letting some of us out there know we are not the only ones alternating between being proud and pulling our hair out. My daughter is 10 and it is a struggle some days to remember that I do want her to be able to fight for herself, just not against me. The day she taught her brother who is 15 months younger than her(he was 9 months) to climb the baby gate…She is lucky she made it…

  76. *sniff* What a great birthday post!
    Your description of Amanda as a 7-year-old cracked me up because we’ve had that parent/teracher conference several times this year. Bean is 5. I am so screwed (but at least it’s a fun ride!).

  77. happy birthday Amanda and a happy mother’s day to stephanie. πŸ™‚
    i love both your philosophies and believe you’ve both done your jobs quite well and wish good things for both in the next many many years.

  78. Happy Birthday Amanda! Wise words from your Mum. I’m weeping into my T-shirt as I write this because it was so touching and so TRUE. I have a 20 year old daughter I had to give more space to and a 15 year old waiting in the wings…. so all this has really touched my heart. You always do Stephanie. This was simply lovely.

  79. Beautiful, Stephanie. Thank-you for sharing such a tribute and a very happy birthday to Amanda.

  80. Happy Birthday Amanda! Good job preparing your mom for everything that was to come.
    (Are those your mother’s eyes I see, in the formerly-a-cassette-tape picture?)

  81. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AMANDA!
    HAPPY PROMOTION, STEPH!
    to being the parent of an adult child, of course.
    I have another year before this milestone visits our house. I hope I handle it (and describe it!) half as well.
    When I read about someone like Amanda I realize the world may make out all right after all.
    She does knit, right?

  82. Happy birth anniversary to you Stephanie! My first born is SO similiar! But he’s only about to turn 7 on Saturday. I’m going to tell our developmental social worker (who specializes in high needs kids) about your post. She will really enjoy it too!
    And happy birthday to Amanda too! What a beautiful young adult πŸ™‚

  83. Happy Birthday Amanda!
    Steph: I get to see you today, I get to see you today, I get to see you today, I get to see you today, I get to see you today, and I have a first sock!
    That’s my first sock song.

  84. Happy birthday Amanda πŸ™‚ From a girl who’ve also tried to jump of balconys and even jumped of a mountain at age 5 (not advisable), we’ll make it to be grownups too (someday)!

  85. Happy Birthday Amanda. Cha Cha Cha!
    (By the way Stephanie, I can’t tell you how many times a day I mutter to myself “these are excellent qualities in an adult!” I have a daughter, now 8, much like how you describe Amanda growing up!)

  86. crap. my oldest turns 18 in december. are you trying to dehydrate me with crying? I need tea. and coffee… and, and tissue. and my knitting.
    beautiful. happy b-day to your girl….
    ts

  87. Oh, fine. Reduce me to tears within 3 minutes of arriving at work.
    {sniff}
    There’s always the Hobbit perspective. Amanda will soon be entering her tweens, those irresponsible twenties between childhood and coming of age at 33.
    {sniff}
    Betty (whose only child, a girl, turns 8 in July)

  88. Hey Amanda! Happy Birthday! 18 is a huge deal, so congrats on making it this far and making it so well, by your mum’s account. Enjoy your birthday.
    Stephanie and Joe, congratulations on raising a superb human being.

  89. I concur x google with almost all of the comments above! Happy Happy Amanda.
    Our greatest gift to our children is to raise them to be independant, critical thinking, strong, giving, curious people who give back to the world. It sounds like Amanda is just that not to mention she has helped shape you into the wonderful woman/mother you are now. Our kids really give us so much more that we can ever give them
    Close your eyes, take a breath in and be proud – remember that all of those memories are yours to hold close forever and that she never will ever be to far away for a hug and mom chat.
    Post script: I cry every year on my daughters birthday, not because I’m sad, but because I am grateful. I am grateful for all of the blessings she has brought me – my life was made complete the day she was born. Now that I have 4 more boys to add to the mix, I remind myself to breathe and take it all in, I want to live in each moment of it.

  90. A very Happy Birthday to Amanda, beautiful young woman, and a very Happy Birth Day to you, Stephanie.
    I take a child like that over any ‘easy to raise’, and they seem to be the only kind we have in our family (meaning NOT the easy ones)…..go figure.
    I love this post, from the photos (each one, talk about a thousand words!) to your words, very touching. Happy Day to you and your family.

  91. I wonder if it is something about the name. I have a 14-year-old Amanda and she has never been the “easy kid.” Learning to read before school with no promting, telling me as she left for the first day of kindergarten “no mom, you stay here” (in the car), and using all the biggest words she knew….but mine too is growing up to be a great adults. We often point out now, that eventually she will be asking the kids who picked on her for being too smart, etc. in school “do you want fries with that?”!

  92. What a beautiful young adult you have raised . Happy Birthday Amanda. I read someplace that the ONE and ONLY thing that a parent OWES their child is to teach them to be completly independent of their parents—I think this is the HARDEST job on our planet–and even harder to let go of. Seems like you have accomplished this . Congratulations to you both

  93. Happy Birth Day to you and Amanda! As a mother of a girl (8yo) who sounds remarkably like Amanda, I am so happy to hear that it is possible to make it through! You give me hope!

  94. Happy birthday, dear Amanda. The world will not know what hit it when you loose yourself upon it! πŸ™‚
    And congratulations to you, too, Stephanie, for raising such an intelligent and wise woman.

  95. Thank you for reminding me that I don’t want my children to become blind obediant followers. πŸ˜‰
    Happy Birthday Amanda!

  96. How beautiful– your daughter and your words about her. I don’t have any children yet, but this brings tears to my eyes. I’m sure I’d be sobbing if I didn’t have 8th graders in my classroom taking a final exam right now!

  97. There really does need to be a medal or award of recognition for parents who successfully raise responsible and kind members of society. Heck, even those who raise the not-so-responsible kind should earn something. Your tribute to your lovely daughter’s life to this point and your adventures together has been a wonderful way to start the morning. I’ll hug my girls extra hard this morning and not worry about whether or not they’ll get sent to the principal’s office for not conforming! Congratulations to both you and Amanda.

  98. Congratulations to you all! When my daughter was born (30 years ago next month) she had respiratory distress syndrome and spent some time on a respirator. At 2 days old she almost defeated the machine by breathing out when it was breathing in…. the result of this feat was to rupture a lung, and the neonatologist’s solution was to paralyze her with curare! Yes, the only way to convince her to let the machine breathe for her was to give her the poison used on pygmy hunters poisoned darts to completely paralyse her!
    When we brought her home, that doctor gave me the best gift he could have. He told me the only reason she was alive was that she was a fighter, and that when she was a teenager I would have to remind myself that without her fighting personality we would have lost her. What a relief to know that her personality came with her and was not the result of some horrible parenting error on our part!
    She is a lovely adult and you’re right, Stephanie.. the best adults are not always the easiest children to “get with the system.” Last year a friend gave me a plaque which reads “Grandchildren are your reward for not killing your teenagers.” I am loving the reward, although it seems unfair that her son came with the opposite personality…. the one that says, “What can I do to make your life happy and calm and loving, Mama?” I’ve warned her that this is simply the luck of the draw and not because she is the perfect mother, although she is damn good (another reward for me!)
    I’ve loved watching your girls grow up. Thanks for sharing them with us!

  99. What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful life. You helped guide her to become this lovely girl with the skills and spirit to participate in the world. Good job, Mom. Happy B-Day, Amanda.

  100. Happy Birthday, Amanda. Live your life for happiness and have no regrets! Your youthful endeavors have given me reluctant hope. As my 7 month old daugther, Cordelia, is an obstinant little cluck whose only a breath away from walking and driving me even battier than usual. I’ve considered weighted booties to slow her down but she’d probably just get stronger. I’ll stop pulling at my hair and start thinking towards the adult she will become. Thank you.

  101. For some of us, our lives would have been very different, if our mothers had expressed these sentiments, before it was no longer possible to do so. Well done, Stephanie. A very courageous act.
    Happy Birthday, Amanda. Your mother has written the very best birthday gift you will ever receive. I am grateful that it was shared with the rest of us.

  102. Tears in my tea reading this — my oldest will be 20 in a few weeks and his independence simultaneously terrifies me and makes me very proud.
    Happy Birthday, Amanda. And a happy becoming-the-parent-of-adult day to you, Stephanie.

  103. On May 30th, 1989, you daughter was born. Lucky mom you are. May 30th is THE best day to have a child – a child of Gemini, not one, but two in essence. The perfect example of harmonious balance all in one person (and an endless source of insanity). May 30th is the best day to be born. I know of two other people born on this best day – the little girl down the street from my house named Morgan who turned 5 today and the Old Nagger who lives in me who turned 42 today! Yep. May 30th is the best day to be born, Amanda.
    Happy Birthday Amanda! You can do everything because you’re legally an adult – except drink. Don’t worry, I’ll have one for you tonight. One for me, one for Amanda, one for Morgan.

  104. Happy Birthday Amanda!!!
    Having two past this age(30,27)sometimes it doesn’t possible , be happy, they will eventually remember the things you taught them. Hugs all around.

  105. On May 30th, 1989, you daughter was born. Lucky mom you are. May 30th is THE best day to have a child – a child of Gemini, not one, but two in essence. The perfect example of harmonious balance all in one person (and an endless source of insanity). May 30th is the best day to be born. I know of two other people born on this best day – the little girl down the street from my house named Morgan who turned 5 today and the Old Nagger who lives in me who turned 42 today! Yep. May 30th is the best day to be born, Amanda.
    Happy Birthday Amanda! You can do everything because you’re legally an adult – except drink. Don’t worry, I’ll have one for you tonight. One for me, one for Amanda, one for Morgan.
    I’ll let you know how I fee in the morning.

  106. I am sobbing!
    I just had my first daughter and reading your tribute to your’s just made me break down.
    happy 18th birthday Amanda!

  107. How beautiful. πŸ™‚ I wish my mom had written something like this to me on my 18th.
    Happy birthday to your lovely daughter, and congratulations on getting through it all without ripping your hair out…too much. πŸ˜‰

  108. Happy Birthday Amanda! How wonderful to know such motherly love…even if it feels like a pain in the butt right now..trust me, there will be a time it heals you simply by remembering. Fly high Amanda, but watch your landings.

  109. Happy 18th birthday Amanda! Hope you have a fabulous day. I’m seeing your mom speak tonight at WEBS, we’ll make sure to raise a toast to you. πŸ˜‰

  110. I am saving this. My daughter is one of those kids. At 5.5, I have to tell myself every day that the qualities that make me crazy now will make me admire and respect her as an adult.
    Thank you, and happy birthday to your wonderful daughter!

  111. Happy Birthday Amanda! How wonderful to know such motherly love…even if it feels like a pain in the butt right now..trust me, there will be a time it heals you simply by remembering. Fly high Amanda, but watch your landings.

  112. Happy 18th Amanda! Gemini’s Rock πŸ™‚ and yes, Mum, relax, we can handle it (boy, can I relate, that was me so many long years ago!!)

  113. Now that I am completely in tears, thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings with this wonderful tribute to your daughter. (totally hilarious at times too!). My first daughter (first child) is due in September and after reading your post I am more excited and more freaked out all at the same time! Holy Sh*t what have I gotten myself into?!?!??!
    Happy Birthday Amanda and Happy Amanda’s Birthday to you and Joe!

  114. That was beautifully written… Amanda should be pround of how she raised you as a parent! Happy Birthday to Amanda.

  115. Happy Birthday, Amanda! And thanks Steph for all those honest, wonderful words. I hope to remember some of them as I go through it with the twins. Every tear and every smile makes it all worth it.

  116. I believe my mom can relate to this sooo much. I am the youngest of three, her baby and I continue to push to envelope farther and farther. I was her little angel until I hit my teens, especially when i went off to college. I now have tattoos,failed some college courses, I went through depressions, just spent an entire semester in Florida, and I get angry easily. I’m not the easiest person to live with, but in all you have to remember that no matter how much we may act like we hate you, we really can’t live without our moms. I would be in a dark alley homeless on the streets somewhere had it not been for my mom. Mom’s never go out of business, their business just gets relocated and their love travels through phonelines, cards, gifts, and visits from time to time. Their jobs expand when their children become parents. You will never stop being a mom Stephanie, so you’ll never be unemployed.
    For everything I’ve to my mom, I regret the moment after it happens. I may not show it, but she is the true angel in the relationship. I hope your daughter has a wonderful 18th birthday.

  117. I heard it said once that you raise your children to leave you. As much as it saddens me, I realize one day I have to let go of my darling little boy, too. Congratulations on doing a wonderful job raising another wonderful Canadian, and Happy Birthday Amanda! Enjoy it while it lasts!!!

  118. Constructive discontent. What an excellent pairing of words, Stephanie.
    I don’t think you get to relax yet, though.
    Maybe a little bit once she’s closer to 30.
    It goes fast. Too fast . . . .

  119. Happy Birthday Amanda! I would be thrilled if my 4 month old daughter grew up to be half the woman your mother believes you are!

  120. You both made it to 18!!!!
    You got me thinking, again…
    Isn’t it amazing, on the good days, how you can be so clear about all this turmoil of both growing up…It makes up for every second, minute hour, days of doubt, anger, helplessness of being a parent (I do know that fathers feel the same but don’t voice it the same way).
    Maybe because they come litterally out of you, you scream or grunt through their lives in the manner you gave them birth….like birthing over and over, and every time they/you achieve another milestone however big or small, you get that incredible rush of andorphines that makes it all worth it.
    My 19 years old daughter graduates this week (finally, it was a grunt), and as I watch her coming into her own glowingly, I get the rush, pick up on hers, watch my own mother picking up on ours, and we are all so high, am in awe….
    Congratulations to you and your family, this is one of those moments when I dont’t want to repeat my favorite mantra,”This too shall pass.”
    ValΓ©rie
    PS: When she didnt fit into any molds, when schools and counselors gave up, a light went on and I put knitting on her pass. She latched on to it the same way she latched with a vengeance at my breast the second she was born, hungry and eager, we had finnally found one thing that helped her and us stay focussed on the task at hand, growing up. She too is becoming an awsome adult. Never under estimate the healing power of knitting!!!
    Thank you for giving me a chance to express all this.

  121. well, it’s not that often that I cry while reading a knit blog. What a beautiful post. Thank you!
    Now i’ve got to go hug my mommy.

  122. Happy birthday Amanda! Congrats to you, Stephanie and Joe. I often think that I will measure the success of my life by what kind of human beings i’ve unleashed on the world. I’d say you guys have been pretty successful thus far. May it continue apace!

  123. Happy Birthday Amanda! You are lucky to have a mother that recognized that even as you were trouble as a child, you would grow up to have those same traits cause people to describe you as “a charming, accomplished and clever young woman” and “my, my, Amanda really is quite wonderful and independent.”
    Keep it up. Its our job as daughters to give our mothers trouble.

  124. Thank you so much for posting such a beautiful letter. I am so looking forward (a bit impatiently) to the day when I can join the ranks of motherhood – I’m printing out your letter for future reference.
    And most importantly…
    Happy Birthday, Amanda!

  125. Happy Birthday Amanda, all my best wishes in all your endeavors.
    I wonder if it’s a first born thing? My oldest tested my limits every day and no matter what I said he always and forever has to learn it the hard way.
    Stephanie I feel your pain. This separation thing is a real bitch. My third turned 18 earlier this year and will be off to college in the fall, I’m sure she’ll be fine… me? not so much. Her final violin recital tomorrow, her final youth orchestra perfomance on Sunday and then graduation. Each step she takes she is walking away from me, and I’m okay with that, but not, you know?

  126. well, it’s not that often that I cry while reading a knit blog. What a beautiful post. Thank you!
    Now i’ve got to go hug my mommy.

  127. Happy Birthday Amanda!
    Stephanie, congratulation to you too. Today’s entry was a great tribute, a great reminder to the mothers of younger children (me), and a beacon of hope (if my kiddo turns out half as good as it looks like yours has, I will be thrilled). Your insight continues to amaze me.

  128. Well, drat, I’m trying desperately not to run off all my mascara. So lovely. Happy Birthday to BOTH of you, for it is her day to celebrate, but it is, in a way, always yours as well.
    I speak for those of us with mothers who are trapped in their own life fetters and can’t be mothers, really, when I say thank you – for the reminder that some people do, in fact, get it right. Telling your daughter you’re proud of her is the best birthday gift of all, I believe.

  129. Happy Birthday Amanda. This post was so lovely it made me cry. My 18 year old daughter and I have been going through some trials lately but this post made me think back and remember all the good things she has done and what a warm and loving person she is. Thanks

  130. Happy birthday, Amanda. Go easy on your mom. You’ll understand it all one day soon.
    Stephanie. Go Hug your mom. Hug your daughter, and then console yourself that they can grow up on you all they want. You still get to love them. Congratulations on your bright and beautiful daughters.

  131. Happy Birthday Amanda! I will be thirty on the 19th of June and I always think that I know everything and don’t need my mom’s opinion. Amazingly, this year my mom is living with my husband and me and I still find myself learning from her. It never ceases to amaze me. I really still do know every thing though…..

  132. Happy birthday, Amanda! May you have many happy healthy years and someday, if you should have children, may you have as much success as it sounds your mother and father have had in raising you. They’ve tried hard, you’ve taken in all they’ve taught you (magically, without their even knowing!) and you’ll do just fine.
    Stephanie, I know it will be hard being away from your firstborn tonight at Webs, but we’ll try to keep your mind off it πŸ™‚

  133. Sniffle!!
    Happy 18th Birthday Amanda. Congratulations on getting there in one piece Amanda’s Mom.
    My 70-year-old father informs me that one is never really done raising one’s children — and then they get married and you have even more of them to raise. (I silently scoffed at this notion until my eldest got married…..and then I apologized to Dad.)
    So, best wishes for a great birthday Amanda, but whether you admit it or not, you will always need your Mom — and one day you’ll even tell her that she was right about too many darned things.

  134. OK I am sitting here crying at my desk. My “baby” at age 21 is going to volunteer in Peru for two years and I am having difficulty letting go, although her oldest bother lives in China. Maybe it is the daughter thing. Thanks Stephanie, you are a wonderful mom, writer and oh yeah knitter.

  135. To further echo the previous statements, cheers and a happy birthday to The Graduating One. I assure you, there are fun times ahead.

  136. >
    Did you do what your Mum told you? (I know i didn’t).
    Amanda is the beautiful woman she is because you and Joe let her find her own way, with some guidance.
    And better that she was a stripper at 18 months old and not at 18 years old…

  137. Oh. My. Happy Birthday to both of you! A milestone for you both!
    I’m linking to my dear daughter who will be 30 in November. I’m still learning what you’ve already learned, Stephanie. Wow. Thank you for saying this so well…there isn’t a mother out there who won’t appreciate this!
    Well said.
    (((hugs)))

  138. Happy birthday, Amanda!!
    It really gets better now. My mom has been my best friend ever since I moved out of the house. Mind you, now that I have been free, I could never move back into the house for fear of turning homicidal once again.
    Good luck in the world, Amanda.

  139. Happy Birthday Amanda! Enjoy your aduldhood! And Stephanie, that was a beautiful tribute and gives me hope that I’m not failing my own kids – if they’re being difficult now is hard to deal with but I never thought they were building skills that would help them later. Thank you!

  140. *sniff!!*
    happy 18th birthday amanda!!
    and kudos to mom and Joe for turning out a lovely young woman!

  141. Happy 18th, Amanda!
    And to the Harlot – will you be my mom? You said it perfectly when you talk about obedient children not making the best adults. It has taken me many years to be comfortable with thinking for myself after being a “good girl” for the first 18 years. I hope your girls realize that they are blessed to have a mother who is teaching them to think and discover themselves instead of one who simply turns out what society expects. Blessings on you all.

  142. Happy Birthday Amanda! Steph thanks for your wonderful words as always. My father spent the first while of my daughters (4) life telling me I got what I deserved. He has resently admitted that she even put me to shame and he hasn’t a clue and he raised my sister and I (quite well) by himself. So thank you for the insight that there is a light at the end of a tunnel and yes it may be a train but you don’t know until you get closer and that’s where the excitement lies…in the journey

  143. Happy 18th Amanda, and THANK YOU, Stephanie. When my only child, 3 years old, is told not to say ‘be quiet’ to adults and looks me dead in the eye and says instead, “hush, chatty monkey” and I wonder, “why is this child so ornery and WHY won’t he do one single thing I say, no matter how many ways I say it,” I am then possessed with wondering WHY I’m the worst mother on the planet. This was the most comforting essay on motherhood I’ve ever read. You mean (gasp) they just COME THAT WAY???? Thank you, thank you, thank you, Stephanie.

  144. i found this site by accident and i am probably not going to be a mom, but if i was, i wish i could write something as dear and real that you wrote to your daughter. your writing is so REAL!!!! and your daughter will always have this special gift, more special than any other gift i can think of-the TRUE, not fakey and glossed over, expression of your love and devotion. there are about 200 postings before mine, so i don’t even know if you’ll get to mine, but i just read the part where you talk about the cherished obedient children having some difficulting developing assertiveness, and i thought-you are SO right! i really appreciate your expression today!!!

  145. i found this site by accident and i am probably not going to be a mom, but if i was, i wish i could write something as dear and real that you wrote to your daughter. your writing is so REAL!!!! and your daughter will always have this special gift, more special than any other gift i can think of-the TRUE, not fakey and glossed over, expression of your love and devotion. there are about 200 postings before mine, so i don’t even know if you’ll get to mine, but i just read the part where you talk about the cherished obedient children having some difficulting developing assertiveness, and i thought-you are SO right! i really appreciate your expression today!!!

  146. Beautiful words for a beautiful girl, inside and out. Happy Birthday, Amanda! Wish big!
    It’s my Dad’s birthday today, too, so I’ll be getting my fill of birthday cake before setting out to Northhampton. See you at the Calvin! πŸ™‚

  147. Happiest of Birthdays Amanda. Stephanie….great job.
    And now thanks alot, I am reading and crying, because you are writing about my 11 year old and I…and it feels like tomorrow she will be 18 and I’m not even ready for the apparent need for training bras yet, and how the heck did we get this far so fast.
    Happy Birthday!

  148. Happy Birthday, Amanda. It’s a milestone. This was beautifully written. I know you’ll cherish it.
    The picture with the cassette tape is priceless.

  149. Congratulations to Amanda on reaching 18, and congrats to you on the same thing.
    Me, who’s pregnant with my first over here, is all weepy.

  150. I’ve got one of those, too. The one who told me, at age four, “You know, Mom, I CAN drive. You just never let me.”
    And I’ve got one of the other ones–the ones who make great children and you pray that somewhere in that meltdown over the skinned knee, there is the core of resilience she needs to survive.
    This motherhood gig–it’s not for sissies.
    Happy Birthday, Stephanie. I know it’s Amanda’s birthday but I always think the milestone birthdays belong to the mother.
    Barb

  151. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing Amanda’s birthday with all of us…
    Cherie
    (mom of an 18-year-old son who never quite fit the mold, either)

  152. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing Amanda’s birthday with all of us…
    Cherie
    (mom of an 18-year-old son who never quite fit the mold, either)

  153. Great job. And the take-home for the rest of us is that we are not raising children. We are raising adults. Not sure it helps on the days when they are driving us nuts but it gives us some perspective.

  154. Made me cry too… thanks Stephanie for sharing your beautiful letter to your daughter. I just had a daughter three months ago this weekend – I can’t wait and yet am terrified of all of the adventures to come. *sniff*
    Happy birthday Amanda!

  155. Happy Birthday Amanda, now that your 18 the whole world is open to you!! You can now legally smoke and go on game shows. I wouldn’t reccomend the smoking because with all health issues aside, in a house of yarn that’s asking for it. However, the game show world is open to you now! Happy Birthday!!

  156. Happy Birthday, Amanda! Coming of age is scary and exciting and wonderful all rolled into one. Enjoy it!
    What a beautiful post and thank you for giving me hope that my “spirited” 3 year old WILL be a fantastic adult……..if she lives that long:)

  157. When I think of 18, I think of the scent of a summer morning, fresh and full of possibilities. Happy birthday, Amanda! You seem to be twice as aware and somehow more awake than I ever was at your age, and the experiences of the next few years will not be wasted on you. Was that the exact same cake? Is it a family tradition?
    Stephanie, your writing about your children makes me ache for motherhood. Not that I wasn’t before, but I can normally stuff it into a corner to brood over at leisure. Today it’s dancing Carmen Miranda-style through my head.

  158. Happy Birthday Amanda!!! Welcome to adulthood. Run for your life. Steph, what an awesome tribute. I only hope to be able to write as eloquently about my sons the way you do about your daughters. It’s the little one that frightens me the way Amanda frightened you. πŸ™‚

  159. I never thought a knitting blog would bring me to tears!
    Happy Birthday Amanda and Stephanie!
    Thank you for reminding me my lovely 3 year old daughter who is testing my patience as I type will be an adult one day and I will be glad she’s as tough as she is now.

  160. That made me cry.
    I wish my mother could say something so eloquent and wonderful about our tumultuous relationshp.
    Happy Birthday Amanda!

  161. Amanda, Happy Birthday! May I say, you’ve done a sterling job raising your mother, you should be very proud of her!
    Stephanie – she’s toilet-trained, the hard part’s over. You’ll find as time passes that you have a friend who understands you as only another woman – and a daughter – can. Now I can go read the preceding 217 comments….

  162. Thank you! As the mother of four- and two-year-old girls who will someday make terrific adults (but can each be a right challenge in her own way now), your perspective is truly eye-opening.
    And there is one other occupation where the goal is to put yourself out of business: fatherhood. My husband is an at-home dad, and I can’t wait to share this post with him.
    Happy Birthday to Amanda, and congratulations to you, Stephanie!

  163. You go, Amanda!!! I also had a stripper–and she could do it while seated in her stroller, tossing articles of clothing as we walked along. I had to retrace many steps collecting the cast-off garments!! As everyone before me has said, what a wonderful tribute to your wonderful daughter–and to your steadfast desire to rise to the challenge of this child. My 30 year old moved in with us this year during a period of transition. You won’t lose Amanda to the world, she will continue to drag you into it with her!

  164. Happy Birthday Amanda! And, Happy 18th year of Amanda to you Stephanie.
    It’s my birthday today too — though I am 35 not 18 (thank God – though maybe don’t mention that bit to Amanda.)
    Your moving tribute to a mother’s love for her daughter and vice versa has been a lovely gift for me to read today too. I hope my mother would say similar things about me if she could. Thank you.

  165. WOW – you are most eloquent and moving when you speak of your family….. where are the kleenex?
    Happy Birthday Amanda.

  166. One of the first acts of criminal disobedience that any child commits, is growing up before his or her mother gave express permission…
    As my kids get older, I think that’s the one that hurts the most…
    Congratulations, Amanda–happy birthday, and tell your Mum she made me cry.

  167. Stephanie, you made me a little teary, but I’m sure I won’t be the only one.
    Happy birthday, Amanda!

  168. Go Amanda…. Happy Birthday and may the next 18 be just as interesting to your mum… Mum – better get ready for more. πŸ™‚

  169. thanks for making me cry. now i know my son is normal. he acts just like your daughter did! i only have to wait another 14 years till he gets a push into man’hood.
    this post should be published in a magazine. every parent should read this.

  170. Wow. Am I late to this party. Turn the music up — another chorus of Happy Birthday, Amanda, and this chorus is on me.
    (And I am reminded of my friend’s middle daughter — so much for birth order — who has similar attributes and now is a lawyer working in child advocacy. When she was little, though, her mother realized she could never spank her. “It wasn’t principle. If I’d ever touched her I’d have killed her,” was the gentle explanation.)

  171. Happy Birthday Amanda! Congratulations Stephanie on a job well done.
    When my now six year old was two-ish (ok, and three-ish) she always used to stand up and try to climb out of the grocery cart seat despite all my efforts. Thereby encouraging many people to come over to me and say “You know that really isn’t safe dear!” I finally took to tying her gym shoe laces together-problem solved! Hint-cover said shoes with your body so that no one calls the authorities.
    Enjoy the cake!

  172. Happy Birthday, Amanda. You share the day with my grandmother, so I can assure you it’s a good one.
    And for you Stef, I’m 21 and love my mom more than ever. I’ve found it’s all downhill from those teen years.

  173. Read this fairly frequently but had to respond. I laughed, I cried… my co-workers are wondering what I can be so emotional about while writing up meeting minutes.
    Happy Birthday Amanda!

  174. Today our son turns 21. He’s in a different city, doing really well, and every inch the kind of man we are glad to know and claim as ours. But every day, I want to be able to haul all of my kids back to 12 or 14 and just keep them there.
    Thanks for expressing the glad and sad of motherhood so well. It seems to be true that the better we’ve been at it the more we’ll miss them. I’m every so grateful to have the meories and the moments.

  175. You brought tears to my eyes. What a nice letter to your daughter… and to say all that in public! πŸ™‚ My “practice kid” is 24 now, and married. She loves books and likes to garden. She still creates a “nest” of discarded “stuff” around her chair… (of course when I look at my chair… well… I know where she gets it πŸ™‚
    She often wonders why I’m “easier” on her little brothers. I tell her that it’s because I learned with her. I know that I’m not going to raise an axe murder (tho with the littlest one, it’s not a given) and I can relax more. That I’ve found out it’s more important to spend time with your kids than it is to have a clean house. That she taught me well…
    Happy birthday, Amanda, many more.

  176. What a love letter! My baby (Nicholas) turns twenty today and he has challenged and continues to test me daily.
    I have a book on soulful parenting of teenagers coming out at the end of the summer, but sounds like you don’t need it.
    From one soulful mother to another –
    Blessings! (and Happy Birthday Amanda!)

  177. Happy Birthday Amanda! Congratulations to Stephanie and Joe for not just surviving the past 18 years, but thriving in it. It is a beautiful tribute to parenthood.
    Happy Birthday.

  178. Happy Birthday Amanda! And thank you Stephanie. This is everything I wish I’d said to my daughter on her 18th. Have a wonderful day both of you.

  179. That was beautiful, you are both blessed to have each other. Happy Birthday Amanda and Stephanie!

  180. Happy Birthday Amanda! And Steph? Thanks for simultaneously scaring the bejeezus out of me for even considering becoming a mom while also providing the startlingly beautiful outlook that it’s more important to raise strong adults than mindless children. Congrats to you both!

  181. That is a beautiful essay Stephanie.
    One of my sons is similar to how you described Amanda and the other son is “good”. I worry more about the good son than I do the strong minded one.

  182. Happy birthday, Amanda!
    Steph, I’ve already done the letting go thing with two sons. It’s a lot easier with them than it is with daughters. My eldest son, by the way, was a lot like Amanda. Had to come to the same realization–figure what kind of adult you want and encourage those traits.
    Congratulations on surviving to see the first reach 18. It’s supposed to get easier.

  183. Happy birthday, Amanda!! Welcome to adulthood!! This post brought tears to my eyes. My baby is now 26, married, working, out on her own, planning her own baby some day. There were moments when she was newborn that I was convinced that I would have a screaming 6 week old on my hands FOREVER!!! And talk about the first night…I was resting peacefully in my bed when the nurse woke me up…telling me that my baby was disturbing all the other babies in the nursery and so here she is for you to take care of! My baby spend her first night on my chest, my arms tight around her. Come to think of it, if *I* were newborn would *I* want to be in a lonely nursery or in mom’s arms?? Ain’t motherhood grand?? It’s simultaneously the most difficult thing I’ll EVER do and the absolutely, totally, completely MOST SATISFYING thing I will EVER do. Hugs all around!!!

  184. Happy Birthday Amanda.
    Isn’t it funny how we all think we are soooo prepared for a baby and yet we never are? My friend Jo put it well in a phone call 19 yrs ago. With a screaming Mitchell in her arms, baby puke in her hair, and no sleep for 3 days she said, “Diane, what were they thinking letting me go home with a baby? What the hell do I know about newborns? I’m just hoping that I get it together before the head nurse shows up at my door to take him back saying ‘Sorry we’ve made an awful mistake since you obviously don’t know what you are doing.'”

  185. I am so glad I forgot my mascara today. It’s not waterproof, and well,…
    Happy Birthday, Amanda – it’s a brilliant thing to constantly amaze your parents with what a great person you are.

  186. What a beautiful young woman Amanda is. Happy Birthday Amanda! Stephanie, I was in tears by the end of your writing. Your touching words offer reassurance and hope to so many of us! I frequently remind myself about my own children – this quality will serve them well someday! (I do hope they make it to that day though!)

  187. Nothing like making me cry at work. So not looking forward to the day I have to start letting go.
    Happy Birthday, Amanda!

  188. Well….it’s now noon and I’m bawling my eyes out..trying to get the guy who wants to pave my driveway to leave (leave me alone..I live in the country). The journey with my 18 yo was just as firey and it’s a wonderful time together we spend now. She is still 18 and is leaving us after first year in college to work 2000 miles away, BY HERSELF! I have raised her that way, right Stephanie? It was testy all those years, but I kept saying to myself how great this female will be to the populace.
    She is a beautiful daughter, Amanda yours, and one who you can be proud to say you raised to this age. May your journey as adults together be just as enchanting and the I-love-yous, she says to you, make you smile.

  189. My youngest is my challenging one (his father, brothers and I all contend his mouth is going to get him killed someday!). Your take on your “challenging” child certainly makes me hope that all my frustration will one day be for the best.
    But how did Megan get on top of the fridge?

  190. Happy Birthday
    Good Job
    Congratulations (I was that child)
    Yada Yada Yada…
    OMG – is that seven-minute icing? I love seven-minute icing!

  191. What a beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing and making me think back to my first 18 years with my mom and what she had to put up with.
    Happy Birthday Amanda!
    (I’m calling my mom now.)

  192. I’ve been reading this blog for months and never commented, until now. You deserve the praise from the hundreds who mention the beauty in your writing. I’ve never seen such an honest and love-filled message, anywhere. What an amazing woman you both are.

  193. Happy birthday Amanda. You are such a beautiful girl and I wish you all the best in your adult life.
    Happy birthday wishes Steph for raising an amazing child.

  194. Happy Birthday, Amanda!
    And kudos to mum for not killing the offspring when the opportunity presented itself. (It gives me an odd sense of satisfaction I never succumbed to my base desires, especially when it seemed my teenager needed to be put out of *our* misery.)

  195. Happy Birthday, Amanda!
    Stephanie – just how do you do it? The Knitting. The Writing. The Blog. The Travel. The heartfelt, touching, emotional tribute to your child.
    Is it from the “skipping sleep” when Amanda was first born? and it just stayed with you?
    Anyway, thank you for sharing your daughter’s life with all of us and reminding us how precious life is and how important it is to share life and love with others.

  196. oh my goodness, I teared up!
    I’m 19, and when I went to college year, my mom wrote me a similar letter. you moms- we daughters are very appreciative of all you do, even if we don’t show it (most of the time). I bet amanda read this and cried too! you are so sweet.

  197. I don’t even have kids and I’m crying!
    Lucky you for wonderful children. Lucky Amanda for a wonderful Mum.
    Happy Birthday to all of you!

  198. And happy 18th year of being a mother, Stephanie! A beautiful post… I forwarded it to my mother and my two sisters.

  199. *sob*
    Happy Birthday Amanda.
    This post really got to me. Mainly, I think, because my eldest has a lot of those same qualities. I vow to stop screaming “you need to listen to Mommy!” and start internally chanting “great quality in an adult”.
    I’m not sure I can make it without a heck of a lot of chocolate, coffee, and perhaps the occasional splash of vodka though. Oh, and knitting…..lots and lots of knitting.

  200. Happy Birthday Amanda!
    It only gets better from here (I’m 23). And like someone above said, moving out improves mother-daughter relations 100%.
    (Also I really like your hoodie.)
    And congrats on surviving, Stephanie! Us daughters are forever grateful that our mothers didn’t murder us during moments of frustration! πŸ˜€

  201. Happy Birthday to you
    Happy Birthday to you
    Happy Birthday AMANDA!!!!!!!
    Happy Birthday to YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!

  202. “Put yourself out of business” ?
    For shame, Steph. You never stop eing a mom, just ask yours.
    Happy Birthday to you both.
    And good luck tonight!

  203. Happy Birthday Amanda. Bravo Stephanie & Joe. I’m glad you all have each other. Life on this waterball is amazing where there is commitment and passion and accountability…and a big sense of humor. Have a great year 18!!!

  204. Happy Birthday Amanda, and congratulations to Stephanie for such a heroic job of mothering. Also, thanks for sharing your poetic thoughts on motherhood and the family pictures.

  205. Thank you for this post… My husband and I are almost at the verge of having kids, and I will definitely bookmark this one for future reading.
    You struck a chord with me with your “do what I tell you/think for yourself” argument… many thanks πŸ™‚

  206. Good god, I didn’t expect to cry! Silly pregnancy hormones. I can only hope my adventure with our first child is so noteworthy.
    Happy Birtday Amanda!

  207. Happy Birthday and best wishes to Amanda! Now that you are both women together (even if still mother and daughter) I wish you a glorious adulthood together. Stephanie, as always when you speak from deep in your heart you move me to tears.

  208. What a fantastically wonderfull, funny, beautiful way to wish your oldest daughter a Happy Birthday.
    Stephanie… you did a great job to have raised such a wonderful young woman.
    Carolyn in MA.

  209. Happy birthday, Amanda! Your mom’s description of you when you were a child sounds a lot like the way my parents would describe me when I was little.
    Stephanie, mothers don’t put themselves out of business when their children become adults; their jobs as mothers just change. Not that I have kids yet, but hey, I’ve got a mother. And yes, this post made me cry.

  210. Happy Birthday Amanda!
    Thanks, Stephanie for putting into words what I’ve felt about raising my four children. We wanted to teach them to think for themselves, but didn’t think of the consequences of that independence to us as parents. I spent a lot of time saying to myself that they were going to make wonderful, strong, free thinking, compassionate adults, if we could only survive their growing up years. And they have, I’m proud to say.
    I don’t think we ever grow out of our job as mothers, the job description just changes a little.
    One down, two to go for you and Joe! Keep up the good work. Just remember the advice given to me by the mother of a friend- It’s a good life if you don’t weaken.

  211. Happy Birthday Amanda!!!!!!
    As the oldest daughter myself, I can imagine how you feel at the moment πŸ™‚
    Stephanie, that was a beautiful post – stop making me cry at work!!! πŸ˜‰
    πŸ™‚

  212. Happy Happy Birthday Amanda. And congrats Stephanie, you made it through the first phase. Now comes the difficult part when you can’t ground her.

  213. Thanks for letting us in! Happy Birthday, Amanda, may you now begin to realize what smart parents you have (been a teenager, and am raising one now, I know these things!)

  214. My kids are still small and my eldest just as tenacious. This post made me openly weep. Good job, Mama Harlot.
    And Happy Birthday Amanda!

  215. My Only is 17, and so I am creeping cautiously and suspiciously up to this same ‘letting (him) fly’ point, myself. I suspect that you are taking this all much better than I will when my own ‘challenge’ hits his next birthday… at least, you don’t *sound* as though you are hysterical…
    Congrats to you *both*. And celebrate – you both deserve a lot of credit!

  216. Ummmm – I hate to break this to you, Stephanie, but that worrying less thing? Not gonna happen. My “girls” are 34 & 31 & I still worry about them. Only now I also have 3 grands (5Β½, 3Β½ & 6Β½ months) to also worry about. It is, however, a comfort to know that they have good coping skills (the daughters not the grands) because I did bite my tongue when they were teens & let them make their own mistakes.

  217. Happy Birthday to Amanda! And thank you for writing such a beautiful tribute to your relationship with her over the last 18 years, Stephanie.
    Looking forward to your visit to Anchorage on June 11th.

  218. Happy birthday Amanda and to Stephanie–job well done. What a beautiful and moving tribute. I am sure Amanda doesn’t think so today, but in the future, she will know this tribute is the most wonderful gift you ever gave her.

  219. Happy birthday Amanda and to Stephanie–job well done. What a beautiful and moving tribute. I am sure Amanda doesn’t think so today, but in the future, she will know this tribute is the most wonderful gift you ever gave her.

  220. What a lovely letter to your daughter. Thanks for letting us all be a part of this special day.
    Happy Birthday, Amanda! Best of luck to you as you stretch your wings even wider.

  221. How beautiful. You should print it out and bind it. If Amanda doesn’t properly appreciate it now, she will be moved to tears when she reads it 20 years from now.

  222. Happy Birthday Amanda! You are lucky to have a mom who cares so very much about you and she is lucky to have you!

  223. Happy 18th Amanda! The most interesting parts of your life are just beginning. (no kidding)
    Stephanie–being on the other end of the parenting spectrum, I found your post heartfelt and terrifying at the same time. Looking back I bet it almost seems like an instant from that beautiful baby to the beautiful woman. Thanks for the wonderful post.

  224. Gosh, so many comments, I don’t know if you will have time to get to mine. I just wanted to share that my daughter, Jessica, turns 18 June 6th. She just graduated from high school this past Thursday and has already moved out like her arse (as you say) was on fire. She heads to navy Boot Camp in September and is spending the summer in San Diego. I was a puddle all day last Friday when she left and still well up about a million times a day. The littlest things trigger a memory and set me off.
    Everything you spoke of so eloquently I experienced myself. I believe (hope, pray) my headstrong stubborn little Pumpkin Lumpkin will do well in the world and I am sure yours will as well.
    Happy Birthday, Amanda.

  225. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AMANDA!
    I sincerely hope you forgive your mother for putting all your baby pictures up for the entire world to see. (They’re awesome, actually.)
    Steph, as you say so eloquently, our job as parents (other than embarrassing our teens) is to raise adults. Great job, and happy Birth Day anniversary to you & Joe.

  226. This was awesome. I hope that I am able to say such wonderful things in 13 years!

  227. Happy Birthday, Amanda!
    And congratulations, Stephanie, for a fine job.
    (Did you realize how narrowly you escaped having a child born under the sign of Taurus? I love my niece — May 15 — but she can be a little fond of, shall we say, having her own way.)

  228. The time goes so fast between the time our children are born and when we have to let them go. It’s fun, though very scary at times, to think of what they will do and become in the years ahead. You expressed so well the thoughts of a mother towards a child who is growing up. Thanks for writing it out so well. And a very happy birthday to Amanda!

  229. Happy 18th birthday Amanda. May you have a wonderful adulthood.
    And Steph? This so made me cry. At work, no less. Beautiful. Some parts of it – well, I wish I’d heard them from my mom.

  230. What a beautiful woman you have raised -inside and out. No one ever tells us how hard, how rewarding and how much love is involved in this mothering thing. Obviously, mum, you did good!! Happy Birthday Amanda!! WOO HOOO

  231. A very Happy Birthday to Amanda! May she never grow up!
    With a 6-month old girl of my own, this looks to be my future (and while I sincerely hope it is, I think I’m going to need more margarita mix). How did you do it, not once but thrice?

  232. Happy 18th Anniversary to the day you became a mother.
    Also, I feel compelled to repeat what my own mother says about raising children: “If you do it right, when they’re 18, they leave.”
    Congratulations to both of you.

  233. This made me cry. Were you my mother? Because aside from the stripping in the grocery store bit, this could be me and her. (I saved my stripping for when I was at home with neighbor boys, yes, my poor mother). Congratulations on surviving the last 18 years and good luck on the next 18, and I look forward to seeing you tonight! eep!

  234. Maybe it’s the name. Amanda. I have one also. She didn’t sleep for her first 4 years(she regrets that now) and as I always say to her now that she is a mother-“What goes around, comes around”. Then I laugh fiendishly!!!!!!!
    Happy Birthday, Amanda. Remember, What goes around comes around so be prepared-Motherhood rocks, but it also can be a tiny bit trying at times. As you hopefully find out in about 10 years or so. Do some more “exploring” first.
    P.S. Steph-do you really read all these??????

  235. Those eyes in that first picture say it all, lol! It’s like looking at a baby pic of my daughter. I feel your pain AND your joy at raising a strong young woman. My girl is still in the throes of adolescence. I wouldn’t trade her for anything….even if I do feel like tearing my hair out sometimes, Yee-Haw!
    Happy-Happy B-day Amanda!
    Happy-Happy giving birth day Steph!

  236. Hiya,
    Great post – It’s the name!
    My daughter’s called Amanda!
    Others who have Amandas would all say the same – it’s the name!
    Bernice
    ps decided if I had a daughter, she would be called Amanda in a latin lesson when I was 13!
    It means ‘literally’ He/she or it who is fit to be loved.

  237. I loved this wonderful tribute so much –I sent the url to both of my daughters (ages 29 & 26) so they could also read it.
    Happy Birthday Amanda from another Mom in California!

  238. Happy Birthday Amanda!
    Stephanie, if you haven’t read it already, get thee to a bookstore and pick up Robert Munsch’s “Love You Forever” I think it nicely sums up what you’re feeling. (not that you didn’t do that beautifully already)

  239. Dammit Steph. You made me cry. I felt like this when my son turned 18 and again when he moved into his own place and was (mostly) on his own. Happy Birthday Amanda!

  240. I’m back, having re-read the post and most of the comments, and taking the “I could have killed you” portions of the mothering more seriously. I understand better now about what Bill Cosby meant when he spoke of how well children and grandparents get along: they have a natural common enemy: the parents.
    Yeah, I’m full of quotes from other people today.

  241. Definitely agree it is something in the name.. I see some of myself in your dedication (flying off balconies aside).
    Also, am I the only one who thought the picture of Amanda on the statue looked like one of the sock photos?

  242. From everything I’ve read, she’s a wonderful, stubborn, beautiful, intelligent, and well-rounded young woman. Of course, the source is a bit biased, but I don’t mind. I find that parents who constantly ask themselves whether they’re doing a good job of things or totally messing things up tend to be good parents and have good kids. This is certainly something you do.
    My little one, who was reading over my shoulder, asked how old Ms. Amanda is. When I told her, she said, “Wow! That’s way, way, bigger than me!” She will be 6 in September. I hope I handle the next twelve years as well as you seem to have.

  243. Thank you. Your Ode to Amanda has helped me to put today (and honestly many other days) into perspective. Now I’m off to find some glue to put back the hair I spent all morning ripping out….
    (Iris is a lot like Amanda, very similar actually, and it’s been one of those days!)

  244. Happy BDay Amanda!
    And may I add that there is one thing in there that is right on, from the hearts of all mothers who let their babies jump on a bike alone, or watch as they walk into the mall holding their first date’s hands, and knowing that it’s something we all need to face, but still – “I am scared to death.”

  245. Happy Birthday Amanda!!!!!!
    You are one very lucky and very loved daughter.

  246. Happy Birthday, Amanda and congrats to you both for making it through the last 18 years without killing each other. Soon you’ll realize, Amanda, that your mum really does know something and you’ll even want her advice. It’s not for a few more years. Cherish this 18th year, it’s a big one full of fun and excitement.

  247. I am honored to share my 43rd birthday with your lovely daughter. Reading your heartfelt letter lets me know that I don’t have to murder my 14 year old son just yet, that I have much more in the way of hell to look forward to. I completely understand your sentiments when you note that the wonderful qualities your daughter exhibits (and has she been talking to my son?) are not so great for a child, but will be much admired as an adult. I figured I got through these 14 years, what’s another few until legal adulthood?
    I am sure your daughter has read this with the fondness and loathing that only a child can have for their mother. I wish that I were in the audience tonight at WEBS to tell you how great you are, but I will be thinking it just the same!

  248. Happy 18th to Amanda. I’m wiping my eyes with the beautiful and perfectly true words of your mother.
    I try and remind myself I’m not raising children, I’m raising adults.

  249. Happy 18th to Amanda. I’m wiping my eyes with the beautiful and perfectly true words of your mother.
    I try and remind myself I’m not raising children, I’m raising adults.

  250. Some of this is first-child syndrome. Younger children can observe and learn from the mistakes of the older children, which (since they can see what actually happens) they find much more instructive than old unverified stories from the parents.
    But a lot is personality and temperament, much of which is inborn. I’m the oldest, and was never a big fuss. I was quietly stubborn and sneakily independent. My sisters posed different challenges, one being hyperactive and physically courageous, and one being moody and defiant. We all turned out well, though, and get along fine now with each other and with our parents.
    The way I put it, the primary job of a parent is to teach the children how to make their own decisions and to make them well. This necessarily includes letting them practice at making decisions, and at experiencing the consequences. I really think it is best to try to allow children to make as many decisions for themselves as is safely possible, subject mainly to making sure that you intervene when the consequences of the decision could result in real danger in a way that the child cannot understand at whatever age he is.
    Some children will insist on this, and will resist any interventions. Others will need encouragement to make their own decisions. I think the latter need more attention at times.
    And of course, nothing is more instructive than simply being a good example.
    Anyhow, beautiful tribute to parenting and to your child. Good luck to all through the next stages of life.
    PhilB

  251. One Mother to another, you said it all. I’d like to read some of that out loud at my daughter’s wedding (June 23). Amanada’s just beautiful.
    Sabrina

  252. Happy Birthday Amanda.
    Happy Birth-day anniversary Stephanie and Joe.
    Although my mother never put any of this into words over the years, everything you said is what I felt in her hugs as she aged and became more needful of my help. You all have many years ahead of you when your roles will change back and forth – the helper will become the one in need of help – and you will find more love and strength in your relationship as time goes by. I cannot tell you how much I still miss my mum after 5 years. My daughter turns 25 this fall (married with 2 children of her own and a foster child) and she and my mother had the most wonderful times together. My granddaughter will be 9 on June 4 – we are working on a wonderful relationship too. It really does come full circle.
    Also – a colleague of mine and his wife became proud first-time parents today of a little girl, Isabel. I’m going to send them a link to this page and tell them not to be too scared!
    Hope you all have a wonderful day!
    Chris S.

  253. Oh my gosh! This was so friggin’ sweet that I am still sitting here crying! I am not a mother (yet) and I can still feel everything that you said. Amanda, happy birthday. And though your mom is your mom, I do hope that you hear the wonderful things that she is saying and take them to heart. Happy day!!!

  254. Happy birthday, Amanda! 18 was 25 years ago for me…but it might as well be yesterday. Hold on to it. If you remember that life is exciting and precious, it always will be. Andy Warhol said, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” If someone asks what your 15 minutes were, tell them that they haven’t happened yet. Doesn’t matter if you get asked today or when you’re 100. Enjoy all the possibilities, keep leaping for the grass…but make sure you carry your own parachute. πŸ™‚
    Best. Blog post. Ever.

  255. Hello,
    My son (my youngest) will be 18 on the 6th of July…thanks for the insight. He is so much like your Amanda it is scary. I thought about just copy and pasting it to Emory!! πŸ™‚ He will finish HS a week from Friday and then in Aug will be off to Embry Riddle Areonautical Unicersity (Florida)for 4 years…we live in WA state….yes Mom it is hard but I know that it can be done…our oldest is 21 and has moved back to town for the time being. It is all good when you know that they want to come home for a time. Blessing to you both for a great day!!

  256. Happy Birthday, Amanda!!
    BTW, you almost made me cry! But I did call my mom to tell her I love her after I read this…

  257. Dear Stephanie My Daughter Stephanie is in London right now she is thirty three and you know you never stop being a mum and worrying about them. She can sure handle herself like Amanda but you still worry. I loved this post and as the other posters said it made me teary eyed. Last night when I read this just didn’t know what to say so great Job Stephanie and Amanda may your future be bright and shiny. Hugs from the the three of us DH,DD and myself to the all of you.

  258. Sweet Jeesez, Stephanie…. you are truly a gifted writer. You and Amanda are lucky to have each other. Happy Birthday Amanda !!!

  259. Awww, I’m almost crying here, that was so lovely. And I sent a link to my non-knitting sister whose daughter (my niece! How is that possible?) just turned 18 last week. You put it all perfectly, Stephanie.
    And, Amanda? Happy, happy birthday!!

  260. What a lovely b-day gift to your
    daughter! I’m sure you’ve done the kind
    of wonderful job mothering that will
    keep Amanda coming back for advice in years
    to come. Congratulations to you both!

  261. Happy Birthday Amanda!
    My father wrote me a similar letter when I was a teenager and, though we never discussed it, ten years later that letter is still one of my most precious posessions. I’ll bet Amanda rolls her eyes at this post, but I’ll bet she prints it out and takes it with her wherever she ends up!

  262. Happy Birthday Amanda! Your mom done good. Really. Doubt me and I’ll switch moms with you. You’ll be a believer in no time.

  263. Happy B-day Amanda!
    And oh-my-gosh. I am sitting here crying happy tears like an idiot at work for crying out loud. That was just the best, sweetest, most beautiful tribute. Perfect. Just perfect Steph.

  264. Man, if I only had half those words! I’m a new mom and you’ve got me crying in anticipation. It really was beautiful.
    Happy Birthday, Amanda!

  265. Oh man, Stephanie! You get me every time!
    Happy Birthday to your wonderful Amanda! If I were to ever have kids I would hope they would be as cool, and independent, and assertive as she is!
    And I wish my mother had been more like you! *sigh*
    I know it’s wrong to want somebody else’s life but you are so lucky to have what you have, three beautiful daughters, and a loving, thoughtful husband. I’m glad you KNOW how lucky you are. People who don’t make me a little bit upset. πŸ™‚
    Happy AMANDA DAY!

  266. It’s been said over and over, but I’ll say it again — Congratulations to you all on Amanda’s birthday! Your beautiful essay wouldn’t take much editing to be about me raising my daughter, who is going to be a fantastic grownup one day, if we both can survive till that day!
    Happy Birthday!

  267. I cried earlier, while watching a moovie about motherhood on TV…And now, this post! Someone wants me to ear something!
    I have two daugters (15 and 16).They are both like you describe, maybe worse. They have always been that way. Before birth, I knew they would have very strong personnalities (you can feel that!). Actually, they dont want to wait to be 18 to leave. One is going to study in Germanie, the other one in Paris (I live in the south of France).
    I can’t remember a single day beeing totally peaceful, without fear, or sorrow, or fight, or suffering, since a very very long time.
    But they are my daugters, I love them, and I’m proud of them. I brought them up with the inside wish that they could become who they really are, and not what me, or society, wants them to be : Lot’s of sacrifices and loss of illusions, but that’s the deal!

  268. That was beautiful! Happy 18th, Amanda! My best thoughts and wishes are with you! I’m only two years on from that milestone, and when I turned 18 my father told me I wasn’t an adult until he said so. A few months later, days before I moved out to go to university, he told me that he couldn’t trust me, and never would be able to (because I’d saved up and bought an old laptop, and I stayed up writing stories on it too late.) Reading this had me bawling. It means so much to know that a parent out there knows that everyone in the equasion is human, and loves their child just a fiercely, reglardless.

  269. Thanks for reminding me to appreciate my 3-year-old’s “zest for life”. Sometimes I just wish she would sit still and listen to me. I’ll try to remember your eloquent thoughts on those exhausting days! Happy Birthday, Amanda!

  270. A big happy birthday to Amanda! It sounds like you have had a wonderful 18 years with her… and her with you. Have a very special day!

  271. wow, what a wonderful letter to your daughter. i am just at the very beginning of this crazy ride, my first was born on the 18th. thanks for lending me some of your wisdom.
    Happy Birthday Amanda!
    jen

  272. Dear Stephanie, As a mother of 4 strong-willed, independent children, let me tell you life with them will always be a challenge! The umbilical cord is never really cut, you always carry them close to your heart.
    My children now range in age from 32 to 38. When my first child entered kindergarten, the teacher told me they become human again at 18.
    Don’t hold your breath!
    Child rearing was the best/worst time of my life and I miss it with all my heart. Make the most of it and enjoy it to the fullest because it goes way to fast!
    I hope this day was special to both of you. The pics of Amanda are very precious.

  273. Dear Stephanie, As a mother of 4 strong-willed, independent children, let me tell you life with them will always be a challenge! The umbilical cord is never really cut, you always carry them close to your heart.
    My children now range in age from 32 to 38. When my first child entered kindergarten, the teacher told me they become human again at 18.
    Don’t hold your breath!
    Child rearing was the best/worst time of my life and I miss it with all my heart. Make the most of it and enjoy it to the fullest because it goes way to fast!
    I hope this day was special to both of you. The pics of Amanda are very precious.
    Laura
    http://knitting.craftgossip

  274. Happiest of Birthdays to Amanda!
    You did a wonderful job, Stephanie. I have four years experience now with trying to “let go of my job” — and, of course, the pink slip never really comes. I sometimes feel like I’m a temp now!

  275. Happy 18th Brithday, Amanda – and what a beautifully honest tribute – the words and pictures are just perfect…

  276. I don’t often comment, because, come on, how many comments do you really need and how can a person read them all!? But seriously had to comment because , minus the early speech skills, Amanda sounds like my 4-year-old son. He has been reading for 9 months. He walked at 10 months. He spent the first four months basically not sleeping and definitely not napping. It has been rough. And I have really been dreading the teen years already. Is he really going to be this defiant as a teen? When he can get himself killed so easily? argh. It’s too much to think about, as the mother of a preschooler and a toddler. But then I read your letter to your daughter and I think…maybe this will all turn out OK. Thanks, very much, for that.

  277. Beautiful post but now I’m terrified. My eldest is four, just got kicked out of preschool (?!) and tonight read me “Where the Wild Things Are” for his bedtime story.
    He, too, flies from high places.

  278. Awww. Happy birthday, Amanda. And happy 18th motherhood anniversary to you, Stephanie. You managed to do it with humor, with grace, and most importantly without killing your young. Hats off πŸ™‚

  279. Huh. I’m exactly 24 days older than your dear girl. Tell her congrats for me, and…Amanda? Give your Mom lotsa grace.
    One thing I’m learning now is that when you decide to go off to college away from home, your relationships with your siblings stay the same as you left it. May I recommend to you that you invest in those relationships this summer, and try to befriend them–on their level–before you go away or get busy?
    Oh, and tip: Dads are great for low-key accountability for getting assignments in on time! πŸ™‚

  280. Happy 18th birthday to you, Amanda! What a great tribute from your mom. Hope you have had a fabulous day – week – month!

  281. Happy Birthday to you, with whom I share my birthday with, and from whom I stole your mother away on your 15th birthday!
    Love
    Huxley

  282. Happy Birthday to you, with whom I share my birthday with, and from whom I stole your mother away on your 15th birthday!
    Love
    Huxley

  283. Best wishes Amanda. You have a great adventure ahead so keep on doing all you have been doing that is working out great for you.
    Hope Mom and Dad have a great big celebration also as it ends a stage in attitude – legally you are no longer responsible.
    My youngest was much the same and now her youngest is. All that gave me trouble has worked to her advantage as an adult and once I loosened mentally my responisbility towards her our relationship improved to the point I consider her a close friend. It prepared her for life and it certainly prepared her for her youngest.
    As a mother, my thanks for putting your feelings to paper, Stephanie.
    All the best for the coming years for all of you.

  284. Congratulations Mum for getting there, and Amanda for doing it so well…actually, occupational therapy is the other calling that allows you to put yourself out of business. I get to do both OT and parenting, but my kids are only 11 and 13. I’m still working hard on both. congratulations!
    Wendy

  285. Congratulations Mum for getting there, and Amanda for doing it so well…actually, occupational therapy is the other calling that allows you to put yourself out of business. I get to do both OT and parenting, but my kids are only 11 and 13. I’m still working hard on both. congratulations!
    Wendy

  286. What an amazing tribute to your daughter! I’ve never posted to a blog before, but just couldn’t resist. Amanda sounds like a great girl & definitely someone that I would have hung with when I was 18!

  287. Happy Birthday Amanda and congratulations Stephanie on raising a beautiful daughter you can be proud of. I hope when my oldest is 18 I will feel like you do. He is 7 today, May 30th is a good day to be born in my opinion:) Wonderful touching post, Thanks!

  288. hippy bird day Amanda
    Your birthday is the same as my #2 son cyrus (he was 10 today)
    Lets all EAT CAKE!

  289. Thank you SO MUCH for reminding me that the very things that drive me absolutely nutters about my kids are the very things I will love in them when they’re adults. I am going to take a deep breath and think back to this post the next time my daughter engages me in one of her lengthy battles of logic (amazing how hard it is to outwit a 4-year-old) or when my son once again draws all over the dining room windows with his piece of cheese. Future artist and lawyer? Perhaps… Confident, creative thinkers, at the very least.

  290. Oh, the tears are a-flowin’. Mine turned 17 yesterday. I think I’ll just save this tribute and (in my defense) read it to her next year. (Minus the photos, of course.)
    Mind if I borrow the cake, too?

  291. Wow- that is the best diatribe on parenting that I have ever read…I have three sons and am more than aware of the challenges of parenting- especially when you have a humdinger! ( we have one, our middle child, who crawled at 6 mths, walked at 10, and likes to jump off whatever he possibly can!) We’re not at the teens yet though…So happy birthday to your daughter and all the very best. You bought a tear to my eye!

  292. You daughter is a lovley young lady and she is going to do well in this world with the skills you have helped her gain along the way.
    Willful free thinking children are a really big pain in the arse and some times you just want to beat them, but in the end we turn out ok don’t we? Look at you! You are a wonderful mom, wife, knitter, writter, artist, and she is lucky to have you and you her.
    Best wishes to you in what is yet to come Amanda. I hope you got fourth in to this world with your head on strait and ready to learn and grow. you are a beautiful woman with lots of things to come.
    This touches me deeply as my baby sister turned 18 this winter and is getting ready to go off in to the great wide world, and just yesterday I sat and held her in my arms and said to her that all I wish for was that she be a smart girl and be good in school. She was a pain, and is so very much like your Amanda.
    Best wishes.

  293. Happy Birthday Amanda! Thank you Stephanie for such a beautiful gift you have given not just Amanda but all of us mothers. I have only one beautiful daughter (2 sons) and we have become best friends! She is 26 years old and just graduated from medical school. Our time together seems to have flown and she has flown away to Denver, CO for her residency. For mothers day she knit me the most beautiful alpaca sweater so that I would have her love to wrap around me and keep me warm when she left. I gave her your new book for her “journey” and told her she would always be connected to me through our love of knitting and if she ever needed me to “give a tug on the yarn and I’d be there”. Thank you for your wonderful insight to life!

  294. Ok.. I’m crying like a baby. Amanda.. always remember.. only a daughter can drive a Mother crazy. (sons do it soo differently) Remember Amanda.. sometimes it is ok to ask directions.. just be sure who you ask actually knows how to get there. Remember when Mom’s get a little mushy.. put up with it.. cause when you need a babysitter.. you know you can always trust Mom.. and she is mushy so she will be great with the grandkids! Happy birthday..

  295. Ahhhhh. Happy Birthday Amanda. The world is your oyster now! Stephanie and Joe and all the adults who put in their two cents — you’ve done well raising Amanda. She won’t forget. Neither will you.

  296. Thanks for the good cry; mine will be in her last year of high school next year, at only 17–I will just print this post for her at graduation time. I plan use your ‘will be an adult longer’ theory for the 9-year old; it is VERY GOOD ADVICE!!
    Congrats to you and Happy adulthood to her!

  297. Thanks for the good cry; mine will be in her last year of high school next year, at only 17–I will just print this post for her at graduation time. I plan use your ‘will be an adult longer’ theory for the 9-year old; it is VERY GOOD ADVICE!!
    Congrats to you and Happy adulthood to her!

  298. Thank you… your post was forwarded to my by a dear friend who spent her evening tonight helping me cope with my frustrations and fears of raising my “spirited” child. She is only five now, and I know the years ahead will offer many more challenges, but it’s always nice to know that someone has made it out on the other end. I’m working very hard on the “Do not kill her now” part and will keep your post close to me during those most difficult moments. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone on this road… I hope that you enjoy this birthday and many more together.

  299. Wow–I hope that someday someone refers to me as “having mercy”. That was the nicest thing I have ever heard said about another human being and it brought tears to me eyes.

  300. Happy Birthday Amanda. I love the photos and hope you do too. Enjoy this year. 18 is a really good one!

  301. Happy Birthday, Amanda. If you’re half the woman your mom writes about, you’ve got what it takes in spades. Be brilliant, laugh too hard, love too much, and blessings.

  302. “Scan the ground a little as you fly” – Stephanie, there could not possibly be better words to one’s daughters.
    bless you – bless Amanda. Happy birthday sweet thing..
    thanks for the tears in my eyes as I recall raising my own daughters. I ill remember these words for a long time.. scan the ground a little, as you fly.
    So beautiful.

  303. Wow! I had a great time at Stephanie’s talk / book signing in Northampton, MA, tonight.
    For a (somewhat long winded) accounting, see my blog.
    Happy Birthday, Amanda!

  304. Well, by now Amanda has either kissed you or killed you for telling all her secrets, Stephanie.
    You know, I’ve been sitting here thinking about all your adventures and wondering if the apple fell all that far from the tree. There was the time you wound up towel-wrapped in a hotel elevator, all the times you took on hugely ambitious deadlined knitting projects, all the times you bit off something huge….or started something that took on a life of its own.
    Your daughter’s lovely and she reminds me of you. A lot.

  305. Normally, I don’t comment at all (when you’ve got 400+ comments on something, do I really have anything fresh to add?), but I thought I’d come out of lurking to point out something I thought you’d like.
    I’ve got the same birthday as your eldest, and as an eldest myself, I’ve also always been a bit precocious. Today, I got a birthday card from my dad which read: “[front, with picture of an old woman smoking]Old enough to know better…[inside]…young enough to do it anyway!”
    My dad had added: “True since you were 1!”
    I guess it’s just something about people born on May 30th…

  306. Stop making me cry!!
    Happy Birthday Amanda – well done for surviving 18 years with all that wool!

  307. Happy birthday, Amanda! And happy birthday, Mom…what a lovely tribute to a beautiful, talented, strong young woman.

  308. Mother and conservationist, two jobs working to put themselves out of business! I bet that’s not the only link…

  309. Happy Birthday Amanda!
    Clearly, your mother did not get a standard issue baby in you. She got an exceptional one. Thank you for raising her the way you did, (yes, I know I’m gonna get in trouble for that one, but hey, no question you’ve had a hand in shaping her development over the last 18 years) and for whatever strategy you used for not killing her. And thank you for allowing us to share in your life a little these past few years. It’s a pleasure, and an honour.

  310. I didn’t read this yesterday because I was on my way to Northampton to hear you speak. (Thank you for a fabulous evening. I shall post.)
    Happy Birthday, Amanda!!!!! You’re a great kid, oops, sorry, grown-up. Thank you for picking Stephanie as your mom, there’s none better, really. Thank you for sticking it out with her all this time.
    And I LOVE your new haircut.
    Thank you Stephanie for writing this, of course it made me cry. I have a 17 yo boy so I know what you are talking about a little bit (boys are different in more ways than the obvious.:)) But I’ll say this: he skipped sleep when he was a baby, could read at 4 and a half, and didn’t jump off off any balconies, but to this day has this really patient way of looking at me and kind of saying: you’ll come around to my point of view eventually…
    Sorry this is so long.

  311. Happy Birthday Amanda!
    What a FANTASTIC post! Please start another blog all about motherhood (Actually I’ve no idea how you find the time to do all you currently do, never mind adding another blog post per day to your list!!). I’ve a 5 year old and a 2 year old. Your post has given me a valuable, if a little frightening, insight into what lies ahead for me…. and them!

  312. Happy Birthday Amanda!
    What a FANTASTIC post! Please start another blog all about motherhood (Actually I’ve no idea how you find the time to do all you currently do, never mind adding another blog post per day to your list!!). I’ve a 5 year old and a 2 year old. Your post has given me a valuable, if a little frightening, insight into what lies ahead for me…. and them!

  313. Happy Birthday Amanda!
    Good job, Mom….she made it to adulthood intact for the most part.
    I, too, am the mother of 18 year olds only in my case there are two of them, identical boys who graduate from high school tonight. You do your best at raising them and hope they retain something and become productive adults. Now my oldest was something else too…he is 22 and just finishing up 4 years in the Navy….thank goodness. He was my challenge and had I not had 4 years with him under my belt the twins may have been a daunting prospect. They actually took LESS energy to raise than Zack. All have turned out well and are poised to jump into their futures.

  314. Good lord, stop making me cry! I haven’t even had my coffee yet. Jeez.
    (that was beautiful)
    …and Happy Birthday, Amanda πŸ™‚

  315. This is a wonderful tribute! I believe that while a head-strong child is more difficult to raise they make inspiring adults. I will remember this letter every time I have to catch my 20 month old daughter mid-air as she sails off of the couch that I told her to get down from πŸ™‚

  316. Are you sure you were not writing about my daughter? I could have interchanged the girls’ names and it would also have been a most suitable tribute to my daughter Kyla, eldest of 5 children, who is turning 21 next week. What a ride it has been trying to assist her in becoming her own adult version! But what wonderful young woman she turned out to be despite my blunders. I really enjoyed this post. Best wishes to Amanda from Kingston, Ontario.

  317. Happy Birthday Amanda! Boy, I hope that my feisty 3 year old, turns out to be a great adult too!
    Although you don’t know it, you just gave me some fantastic parenting advice, Stephanie. As I was reading this, I kept thinking, “How does she know what my 3 year old is like??”. I’ve been trying to calm him down and help him to be more “socially acceptable”, but I need to realize that the skills he is learning now will help him to be a great adult. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  318. Happy 18, Amanda!
    My Mom Once said: Teen girls are designed to make sure Mom can bear to let them leave home. It’s hard, but somehow the eye rolling and sarcastic comments make it a little easier. πŸ™‚

  319. Happy Birthday, Amanda, and welcome to adulthood! I hope it treats you well. Stephanie, your description of raising your girl was eerily like my own experience, except that my girl did everything with a quiet intensity that was scary in its own way. We never stop mothering, but it’s a real trip trying to figure out what that means when the “baby” is 20.
    It was great to meet you at WEBS last night. Your talk was wonderful, and your graciousness in the face of hundreds of knitters standing in line into the night was awe-inspiring. A feat of Olympian dimensions. Thank you for sacrificing your family time to visit us. Love the book!

  320. *
    Thank you so much for posting this.
    My son is graduating from high school next month, and your post has inspired me to create a photo/word book for him, much like what you have done here.
    Just lovely.
    *

  321. Man, am I late to the party. Happy birthday, Amanda!
    It has been my experience that the talents that a child uses to drive her mother freakin’ batshit are the very ones that she inherited from said mother. (Such as the ability to lose one’s ballet slippers in the very place that one then insists that they cannot possibly be, because one never put them there. But I digress.) In your case, Amanda, these are also the very ones that will stand you in good stead as an adult, especially should you ever have to take out a bank loan.

  322. I just started to cry at work. The love you feel for your daughter is so perfectly clear, so perfectly expressed…it’s beautiful.
    This post makes me think of my mom, and she’s probably felt exactly the same about me, her own oldest child. I’m so glad I get to see her tomorrow.
    Happy birthday, Amanda, from one oldest daughter to another!

  323. *snort* “Someone I made in my spare time…” that’s hilarious!
    Happy birthday, Amanda. You probably don’t believe me now, but in a couple of years your mum is going to get REALLY smart. You’ll be amazed at all the incredible things she knows as you start your adult life, especially when you move out on your own and she’s not around every single day. It’s like magic. πŸ˜‰

  324. Oh YOU! Ok…go ahead and make me cry. You just *had* to post the most beautiful tribute a mother can make on the morning after I endured and enjoyed my eldest’s continuation (which is something only recently invented…some sort of graduation from elementary school). Thank you for saying so eloquently all the things I’ve felt about my own independent thinkers as I suddenly realize just how fast they’re growing up.

  325. what a beautiful and loving tribute to your daughter. it is probably the most precious gift you could have given her on her 18th birthday. i’m sure amanda will treasure these words forever.
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMANDA!!!!!!!!!!

  326. Good grief, it’s all too much for a new mum to take, my son is only 10 and a half months, you had me in floods of tears thinking about all that is to come, but in a good way! (Though I’m still scared to bits by it all!) What a wonderful thing to write, put so eloquently and a gift to your daughter in itself. Happy Birthday Amanda, wishing you a lovely day x

  327. Happy Birthday, Amanda!!
    Stephanie, I feel for you. When my daughter turned 18 in 2006, she went out and bought a lottery ticket, and got her tongue pierced because she could. Parenthood is quite a ride.

  328. Wow… Happy Birthday Amanda!
    That brought tears to my eyes several times… My first baby will be 18 in January, and it’s coming up way to fast…
    Glad to see that it is survivable.

  329. Parenthood is some ride isn’t it? Happy Birthday Amanda! We all loved seeing you last night in Northampton. Of course having us wait in line in a yarn warehouse wasn’t so bad either πŸ™‚

  330. Belated, but heartfelt:
    Happy Birthday, daughter-who-is-not-surprisingly-like-her-mother!

  331. Wow…my son just turned 18 and I couldn’t have written a better description of the early naivete of parenting an infant, followed by confused wondering throughout the toddler years, followed by outright terror in the latter years! thank you for writing this ahd sharing it!!

  332. Dear Stephanie:
    Your website was brought to my attention by MonicaPDX, one of your fans (see above), who found my site, Readersandwritersblog.com, through Franklin’s Panopticon. Monica described you as “another knitblogger who’s superb. She talks about knitting and is a knitting humorist who’s just had her fourth book published. You might want to check out the 18th birthday post she made to her eldest daughter yesterday. It’s a gem.”
    I couldn’t agree more. I’m new to your site, but you can be sure I’ll be reading a lot more of it. Best regards.

  333. I’m a bit late but Happy Birthday Amanda.
    And Mom, I was a very new mother when a very old one told me that God was so very careful with the first child he gives you. It’s the only one who will survive the process and give you the training you need for any others. LOL

  334. Wow!! I sure hope Amanda has printed out this entry so she can re-read it for the rest of her life! I am going to forward it to my daughter who has 2 teenagers. You are the best knitter, a great writer and a formidable Mom! You should be very proud of the job you’ve done with this one. And, she should be most appreciative. Thanks for sharing, Ruth in NJ

  335. Not a good idea to read this post at work and then tear up. And I’m not even a mom. I hope Amanda recognizes “you have the children you were”.

  336. OMG, that put tears in my eyes. What a wonderully endearing message for your daughter! I think my mother and you could commiserate because I am sure I put my Mom through much of what Amanda has put you through. Happy 18th to Amanda!

  337. Happy birthday, Amanda!
    (Very touching post, Ms. Harlot. Brought tears to my eyes, and I’m not even a mom yet. But the eating bananas on the fridge sounds so like my neice!)

  338. Thank you so much, Steph. I’m 10 years older than your daughter and my mother has yet to be able to admit that it’s time to let go a bit. I wish that she had your words and thoughts. Thanks for giving me such good advice if ever I were to have kids. This one’s getting printed up and taped to the bathroom mirror. I think I’ve read it 5 times through today.

  339. Lovely piece, which I forwarded to my 17-year old, who might be cut from the same cloth as Amanda. Her reaction: “It’s awfully long, Mom. I’ll read it when I have time. And haven’t we discussed the e-mail forward thing?”
    Would that be your response, too, Amanda? πŸ™‚
    Happy birthday, dear girl. And congrats to Stephanie on the holiday that made her a momma.

  340. Stephanie,
    I could have written the same words for my son, who by the way is also a Gemini..hmmmmm and was also breastfed (I do think breastmilk makes for very smart babies!). I also am a Gemini and we are a different sort but like you say difficult characteristics make wonderful characteristics in an adult!
    Happy Birthday, Amanda don’t ever stop being YOU!

  341. I Cried as I read this. It’s exactly what I wanted to say to my daughter when she turned 18 last October…somehow you always have a way of saying exactly what I want to, before I realize what I really wanted to say. Happy Birthday to Amanda…she’ll make a fantastic adult!

  342. You know, you could pull together all of your blog entries about your kids (at least the epic ones like this) and publish a pretty nifty book on parenting that a LOT of people would buy. This is beautiful. Congratulations! She’s launched. How is it that an event like this can, at the same time, take an eternity and just the blink of an eye?
    I am so sad that I will be out of town when you come to Portland next Friday. Have a great time in our great city. Watch out for random parades, giant military boats and other traffic-snare-ata. It’s Rose Festival that weekend… and festivities close the bridges and major roads haphazardly. Good luck!

  343. As others have said, happy birth day to you, too! In fact, since I had my son over 25 years ago, I’ve been sending my mum flowers on my birthday. After all this is a special day that we share and always will.
    It sounds like everything went exactly as it should and you have both survived beautifully and are still full of love…congratulations.
    Beth

  344. Happy Birthday to Amanada!
    Wow!! I’ve been coming here for knitting dish, and instead get some wonderful parenting advice today.
    My son in only ten months old, but has been kicking my butt!
    Thanks for great words of wisdom.

  345. Dear Harlot,
    Did you hit a nerve on this one or what?! I am the mom to an 8-year-old boy-child like this, and there are days when I’m just hangin’ on to the reins. And I have to remind myself, “These are good qualities to have as an adult, these are good qualities…” Thanks for nailing it on the head!

  346. Happy Birthday, Amanda — turning 18 is a wonderful thing.
    Hugs to you for turning 18. Hugs to your Mum for getting you there.
    And Amanda? The part about keeping your clothes on in public? Keep up the good work.

  347. Happy birthday, m’dear. Mine isn’t for another half year or so, but on that day, we’re going to party.
    To the beloved and wonderful mother: you have learned, be happy.

  348. Happy Birthday, Amanda!
    You were a beautiful baby, you are a beautiful young lady!
    Mom – that letter is beautiful!

  349. This page was sent to me as a link for “something good to read”. As I began to read it, I couldn’t help but notice how long the scroll bar was. I thought, “oh great…this will take forever to get through”. Nonetheless, I began to read. As I read, I began wondering, “how does this woman know what I felt, what I thought, what I experienced with my son….but you were speaking of your daughter.”
    My son will be 27 on June 2nd. At times, I STILL want to shoot him in his foot, but still I see him as a wonderfully talented, beautifully spirited, independant lover of fun and frolicing that I wouldn’t have it any other way. He knows he’s “MY IDIOT”…and is proud to remind me of it every time he gets the chance.
    Happy Birthday Amanda (from Papillion, Nebraska)…may you be the wonderful challenge and loving spirit to your mother as my son is to me. And what a wonderful present to have so many people wish you well in such a way, from all over the place! πŸ™‚

  350. Happy Birthday, Amanda. Best of luck being an adult. (I find it a bit uphill myself some days but on the whole very rewarding. Thinking for oneself definitely helps.)
    And remember, mothers never stop giving advice, but “I’ll take that under consideration” is a perfectly reasonable response to give before doing whatever you need to do.

  351. we are mothers we stand united in the love for our children we send them out into the world to be big people… we want to hold there hands forever to go before them … i feel blessed to share your story your pictures are beautiful it has touched my heart and made my day.. from one mother to another…margie

  352. I am a lurker on your website, a 6 month old knitter, and a first time mother to be. (bump is 14 weeks old).
    I loved the stories about your daughter, and the pictures. The insights into obedience and assertiveness, compliance and thinking for yourself really gave me something to think about.
    Thank you for the wisdom!

  353. Happy Birthday, Amanda! You’ve been given a great start in life. And Stephanie, congratulations on this achievement … reaching the goal of bringing your beautiful daughter into adulthood, equipped for life in as many ways as you could think of, and helped out with the things she thought up on her own. That’s teamwork!
    Now that my own first-born son will be graduating in a few days, I think it’s time I sit down and write him a letter to mark this milestone occasion. Thanks for the nudge.
    ~ Dar

  354. As if often true, an achingly beautiful post. Happy Birthday, Amanda. And congratulations, Mom, on making it through!

  355. What a wonderful tribute to your daughter. But hold on a minute. If I’ve done my math correctly (and remember your age correctly), you were about 20 when she was born. I thought I was advanced having gotten married at 21, but wow. I don’t think I could have imagined having a baby already at that age. I’m just starting to think about that now, and I’m 32.

  356. I shall be writing a similar letter in about 11 years… for I must constantly remind myself that my youngest son will grow from a decidedly challenging child into a wonderful adult πŸ™‚

  357. My Dear Old Dad with a bunch of daughters would sigh & say:
    “Your son is your son till he takes a wife,
    but your daughter is your daughter for all of her life.”
    Well Done Mum !!!!
    Happy Happy Happy Birthday Amanda!
    Very best wishes for your future.
    — Jay

  358. Comment #494
    Wow. I’m so with you on the happy baby tending. Who knew they were smarter than us? My baby is 14 and taller than me and she is a daily “challenge”. But I am proud that I am raising an adult and not an obedient mini me.
    Thanks for the encouragement to continue.
    Have you heard the rumour that they grow out of it? I don’t know if we should believe it.

  359. I am a mother to a 3-year old spitfire named Anneke. My parenting mantra is, “These will be wonderful traits when she is an adult.” These words rattle around in my brain and are often uttered through clenched teeth. It is so nice to hear that all might be well 15 years from now. Thanks for the maternal shot in the arm!
    Happy birthday, Amanda!

  360. So wonderful! You have captured my childhood exactly. I always thought my mom was off her rocker and had no idea how life was for me… Somehow graduating college made me realize that in fact she DID know and I SHOULD have listenend. I suppose now I know that my kids won’t listen to me when they are young and I’m telling them the things that I know. I just hope that I have the decency to say, “it’s ok, I know you’re going to find out for yourself.” At the same time, I hope that they will be able to understand that I really did do all the things that they are doing… secretly I know they won’t…
    Congratulations to both of you for surviving the first 18 years πŸ™‚ I imagine the next many will be so much better!

  361. I am inspired! My new mantra is “these are great qualities in an adult” as I fight with my 3 year old about every topic under the sun. Though perhaps I am a little scared that the head butting will never end.

  362. It was so lovely meeting you at the BEA this afternoon! Thanks for humoring me stopping you at random and telling my mother that my yarn obsession is totally normal. :o)
    Hope you have a great show and I’ll see you tomorrow at the signing and the panel!
    Thanks,
    Shayna

  363. Happy belated birthday to Amanda … what a lovely tribute you’ve written, Stephanie. I love how she has the same her impish, confident smile and twinkling eyes are the same in each picture.

  364. Happy Birthday Amanda! Stephanie, as you know the years went fast but you have a beautiful daughter who now has “permission” to be not only your daughter but a wonderful friend to you as well. The years have only just begun……..sounds like a song to me. (not necessarily one Amanda would remember LOL)

  365. This is so sweet. I just came across your blog and it makes me want to call my mom just to tell her I love her. I hope Amanda had a wonderful birthday!

  366. What a touching and wonderful sentiment. Happy birthday, Amanda. It seems that both of you are very lucky to have each other.

  367. Happy belated birthay, Amanda! I hope your next (and every) trip around the sun is filled with all sorts of things that would make your mother gasp with horror (hint: don’t tell her until it’s over). But always be safe.
    That said, thank you, Stephanie, for a wonderful essay. I spoke to my mother after reading this, and now that I hear (I don’t think I will ever know) about how hard parenting is, I feel the need to thank her. For, you know, not practising infanticide on me.

  368. Happy belated birthay, Amanda! I hope your next (and every) trip around the sun is filled with all sorts of things that would make your mother gasp with horror (hint: don’t tell her until it’s over). But always be safe.
    That said, thank you, Stephanie, for a wonderful essay. I spoke to my mother after reading this, and now that I hear (I don’t think I will ever know) about how hard parenting is, I feel the need to thank her. For, you know, not practising infanticide on me.

  369. Happy belated birthday Amanda!
    Stephanie – Wow, what a great tribute to your daughter. It brought tears to my eyes. My daughter doesn’t climb things, but you just gave me a new perspective on her independence. Thanks!

  370. This made me quite emotional – aren’t mums great?
    Happy Belated Birthday Amanda and good luck Stephanie πŸ™‚

  371. I have a 10 year old daughter and these are all the things I want to tell her when she turns 18! You are such an amazing writer and you are obviously also an amazing Mum. Thanks for making me cry at 7:45 in the morning. πŸ™‚

  372. My daughter is turning 18 in 9 months and counting (or not counting on some days). This really hit home and made me so emotional! I feel exactly the same way – oh the joy of being a mother! πŸ™‚
    Thanks for sharing!
    Jen

  373. The best tribute a mother could ever give a child.Very very beautifully written. Both of you are really lucky to have each other. May God Bless Amanda all of her life!

  374. Happy Belated Birthday Amanda! You still have a few age related milestones but the big ones aren’t tied to numbers.

  375. Happy belated, Amanda!
    Steph, I’m fairly headstrong and independent too, but when I was 32 and was no longer able to deal with my then-husband’s lying and infidelity, I told him one evening that I wanted a divorce and then immediately drove over to my parents’ house and spent three hours crying in my mother’s arms. You don’t ever get to stop being a Mom (or a Dad, for that matter), and if you’ve done it right, that exactly how your kids will want it.

  376. “It struck me at some point while I was raising you, that I couldn’t have a child who did as they were told really well, and then suddenly expect you to turn into an adult who was assertive, independent and free thinking.”
    Thanks so much for this, Stephanie, and happy birthday to Amanda. I have a 3 1/2-year-old daughter, and your stories of Amanda sound so much like her. She doesn’t do as she’s told well at all, and you’re so right that although this is annoying now, it will serve her well as an adult.

  377. What a lovely tribute to your daughter. I laughed, and I cried, and I hope I can write something as poignant when my own daughters turn 18 πŸ™‚

  378. HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMANDA!
    And, Steph, what you said about children spending more time as adults and therefore trying to support behavior that will keep them in good stead as adults is priceless. I must remember that!

  379. Happy Birthday Amanda!!! Congratulations Mom. Good Job! You know what Cowboy UP! really means.

  380. Congratulations to Amanda’s mother and father. And, many happy returns of the day to you.
    It was a privilege meeting you today (actually yesterday because I’ve stayed up much too late writing). If you’d like to see my blog about BookExpo and the panel, here’s my url: http://lizasfibers.blogspot.com/

  381. That was beautiful, and left me crying and smiling all at once; I’m sure it did the same for your beautiful daughter. Happy birthday, Amanda – and congratulations mom on raising such a beautiful and amazing-seeming daughter.

  382. Tell Amanda I said good luck and happy birthday!
    Thanks to you and other bloggers, I am being more yarn-fluent. I am now able to recognize(some) yarns by colorway. I was looking at a picture of some stockings on a blog, and I thought, ‘Isn’t that the same yarn Staphanie used for the pink feathered shawl?’ and it was. I’m so happy!

  383. well I am a bit late to the comments but it is because I have spent the week celebrating my bday too!!! Although it is the 36th anniversary of my 18th bday —
    HOPE YOU HAD A SUPER DAY!!!

  384. Oh, Stephanie…I’ve been reading about potential sock ransom notes….you had quite the trip didn’t you????

  385. You LOST the sock? Don’t panic — I’m sure it’s following instructions, staying in one place until you find it….

  386. your sock has been sighted
    its across the border
    its about to unravel
    it wants to come home
    whats your offer

  387. Rock on Momma! Happy birthday Amanda!
    Mine are just 3, 6, and 9. The eldest is off on his first sleep over. I am vacillating between – Wow! and Boohoo!
    Ahhhh! The humanity!

  388. That was such a terrific post. Captures the love and fear we have for our children. Congrats to Amanda and to you and Joe as you all begin a new phase.

  389. Hi ! I was just linked to this blog to discover this post!!! WOW!!! How I wished I was able to say all those things so well to my boy who just turned 18 2 weeks ago!! (or if not exactly the same, my kid was more subdued, but oh those screaming matches!!!)
    Your daughter is beautiful and I wish her all the best in life…; and I wish you all the best as well in dealing with her absences as best you can.
    What a time for us mothers who have to get used to seeing their first child go out into the world on their own (even if we’re not too far!!!!)
    The only thing we can say to ourselves in truth, is that we did the best we could with what we had at the time…..
    Yesterday was Mother’s day in France, so happy belated mother’s day!!! and it’s the only job we can have that stays with us until our very end!!!
    Now I’m going to pour myself some tea and read your other postings on this blog!!!!!
    Best wishes,
    Nathalie, alias Potiron (pumpkin in French)

  390. I learned early on, raising 2 gifted children, that schools are not interested in teaching children who are eager to learn. They are interested in teaching children compliance. Now they are 25 and 27 and learning on their own the importance of playing the system, not at all the same thing as giving in to or being ground down by the system. They still go their own terrifying, amazing, unbelievable way. What a ride.

  391. dude. On behalf of my fellow americans… I apologize. They do not wish to start a war. (I don’t THINK they do… anyway)
    Please don’t invade. We greatly fear Canada. (well- ok- not so much)
    But- they have the sock. It can’t be good. They are threatening 2 circs. (could be worse they could have said “magic loop” )Do you need help? Shall I prepare for battle? Should I fly to NY and release the prisoner?
    Actually- I should go mop the floor- but this is more fun.
    Good luck. Count your stitches when the sock returns… They maybe americans…. but their crafty. I wouldn’t out it past them to decrease a stitch just to muck up a heel.
    http://www.masondixonknitting.com/
    there are no borders— just knitters- my loyalty lies to the sista hood.

  392. dude. On behalf of my fellow americans… I apologize. They do not wish to start a war. (I don’t THINK they do… anyway)
    Please don’t invade. We greatly fear Canada. (well- ok- not so much)
    But- they have the sock. It can’t be good. They are threatening 2 circs. (could be worse they could have said “magic loop” )Do you need help? Shall I prepare for battle? Should I fly to NY and release the prisoner?
    Actually- I should go mop the floor- but this is more fun.
    Good luck. Count your stitches when the sock returns… They maybe americans…. but their crafty. I wouldn’t out it past them to decrease a stitch just to muck up a heel.
    http://www.masondixonknitting.com/
    there are no borders— just knitters- my loyalty lies to the sista hood.

  393. Hello again, my youngest just celebrated her 13th birthday on Sunday, I hope she grows into the beauty that is like Amanda’s. Also isn’t your birthday coming up soon too.Have a good day.
    kristy

  394. Is Camp David available? Jimmy Carter? Anyone? A resolution must be brokered. ‘Talks’ must happen! Code colo(u)rs need to be changed (red? orange? What color is a sock-napping?). Quick! Start hording foreign yarn. It may be a while before the supply line is back up and running. Do something for the troops, pick up those sticks and knit ’em socks, hats, sweaters, anything to keep them warm on the battle front.

  395. I have an empowered-at-birth child and they are a delightful challenge. Happy Birthday to Amanda, I felt like I was reading about someone I know well. Beautiful.

  396. Happy belated birthday to Amanda! And Stephanie, as I told my mom when I was leaving for college, you are not being fired (as mom put it) you are becoming a consultant!

  397. And don’t forget that if you ever need to send her somewhere urgently and she’s still wet…. turn the oven on very low, place her on a clean cookie sheet and just take her out and refold every once in a while. πŸ™‚
    It’s amazing how much she looks like my son in the baby pictures!! Hmmm. I wonder if my son will look like her in two years when he turns 18? hehe

  398. happy birthday, amanda! just remember, as dumb as your mother may seem now, wait til you’re on your own. you’ll find out she’s not such a dork after all (ask my 21 year old, lol).
    and stephanie? well done. (my youngest is 12, almost 13, going on 40. smart, sassy (for a boy!), and very much knowing exactly what he wants. the hard part is getting him to rein it in, lol)

  399. Happy birthday…to both Mom and daughter. Brought tears to my eyes. My baby is 21, and she still doesn’t listen to my advice. I lost my oldest a year ago in a car accident…he was 26…and definately my “test baby”…he turned out pretty well, tho I will never be the same. When I think of some of the things I subjected him too…I cringe. My “high maintenance” child is now a 23 yo man…he also had seven solid unmitigated months of colic. Never got to use a sitter more than once. He is STILL a challenge, speaks in sound bites…but he has done well, and is off and running, but not by any roadmap I set for him. They never do, do they?? Leslie

  400. Hi, Beautiful baby sweater “Dream in Color”. Can you tell me where I can go to order this kit. I appreciate any help you may have. Regards, Mary

  401. Oh Stephenie, how beautiful and how true.
    As I sit here with tears streaming down my face I am remembering my 5 extraordinary women (41, 41, 39, 37 and 34) who sound so very similar to Amanda. You will always be her mother and know in your heart of hearts you have done a wonderful job and she will become and is already an extraordinary woman. Happy Birthday Amanda and Stephenie.
    Cheers

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