Dear Amanda,

I know I write more Birthday Blogs to you than I do almost anybody else, but the truth is that your birthday has always been a pretty big deal to me.  23 years ago today you were born, and made me a mother,  and that makes today a double whammy.  I could tell you all the stuff I think is amazing about you, like that you still make me laugh all the time (and on purpose) and that I think you’re smart and gorgeous, but you know all that – or at least, you know I think it, even if you don’t some days.  I could tell you all of that, but I want to tell you some new stuff.

One year ago today, you took your college education to work, and it was so new – the idea of my kid having a full-time job, that I worried.   I never should have. I’ve heard clients say that they wish the Studio could clone you, because you’re that amazing. You should know too that sometimes Joe forwards me work emails you write – just because you’re so good with words.  I’m proud of you for that.

Over the last year you’ve moved out on your own, leaving the family umbrella and getting your very own place, all by yourself. 

Did you know that’s something I’ve never done? Lived alone?  When I thought about you going home alone at night to an empty house I was pretty freaked out, but you’re amazing.  The idea that you’re more independent than I ever have been fills me with joy.  

What else? You learned to drive a car.

I had started to wonder if any of you girls would bother, and it was sort of fine with me if you never did – on account of you know how I feel about cars and driving, but there you were all of a sudden, behind the wheel and doing fine.  Relaxed, confident – it was amazing.  I think you’ve inherited some other gene for driving, because you know that relaxed and confident isn’t how I do that particular thing.  It’s stunning to me to watch you turn left AND right and talk about it like you don’t even have to think about it that hard.

I’m so impressed with who you are, and how you’re turning out, and how you’re one of the hardest working, most thoughtful young women I know, but I wanted to tell you about something.  You know how I’ve been having a hard time learning to ride the road bike? I’ve been training so hard, and trying so hard, and well.  The truth is that I really suck a lot.  I can tell that.  I could tell it again this morning when I slowed down, failed to unclip and fell over like a tree and was just lying there in the dirt again.  AGAIN. This time I didn’t end up bleeding, but it was pretty freaking demoralizing.  I’d just struggled up a hill, and I don’t seem to be getting better at that, and sometimes when I’m training all I can think is that there’s a really good chance that I’ve made a mistake signing up for this, and that’s what I was thinking this morning.  8:15 in the morning. Lying in the dirt. Really thinking about crying and going back home – and I told myself the one thing that’s been making this possible for me. 

Amanda did it.  If Amanda can do it. I can do it.

Every time I say that to myself, I feel a bit better, and I get up out of the dirt, and I start riding again – and if I make it to Montreal this summer, it’s going to be because I’m too inspired by you, and too proud of you to quit on something you didn’t let yourself quit on – and I know you wanted to quit about a thousand times, because I’m 43 and I want to quit, and you were 22, and where a 22 year old gets that kind of moxie, I just can’t say. 

I love you.  Thanks for who you are.  It’s a pleasure to be your parent.


(PS to the blog. Amanda’s riding to Montreal to support the People with AIDS Foundation again this year, and most of her friends are too young and poor to really sponsor her.  If you feel inclined to throw a little birthday love her way – I bet she’d love a donation.)

104 thoughts on “Inspired

  1. I often fall over like a tree when I fail to unclip, and end up lying in the dirt. Do not despair, it happens to a lot of us.
    In fact, a few weeks ago I tipped over on a hill and peed on myself when I hit the ground. Yeah, that happens.

  2. your love for your family makes me get teary. besides being an awesome knitter (i bow to your mad skillz) you’re a kind, loving, accepting person, and i really admire that. the world could use a lot more of it. thanks for setting such a fine example.

  3. Happy Birthday, Amanda! It’s been a pleasure to watch you grow up on the Blog. I hope you have a wonderful day & many more like it.

  4. This made me cry. I have a 4 year old daughter and love absolutely everything about her and she already amazes me daily. I hope that we are still as close when she is in her 20’s – I KNOW she will still amaze me. Happy birthday to your Amanda!

  5. Happy Birthday Amanda!
    I have loved watching you grow up through the blog – thanks Steph 😉 Life is good.
    As a mom to 3 girls, I can only mirror a lot of what you say here. Girls today are awesome – my 28, 21 and 16 yr olds prove it just as Amanda, Megan and Sam do, simply awesome!!
    Oh, and Steph – wait till you get grandkids, that is something else (I know, I have two ;o)!!!

  6. All of your girls are amazing and I’m very, very glad that they inspire you to try new and uncomfortable to you things.
    Riding a road bike is scary at times but its a good kind of scare cause you survived and then that little voice in the back of your head says “DO IT AGAIN!!!” when you accomplish something really grand. But it takes time for that voice to find footing and that is okay too.
    hang in there and soon you will love the road bike with almost as much enthusiasm as your knitting.

  7. Happy birthday Amanda!
    Beautiful post… I teared up a little, although pregnancy hormones might have something to do with it. I’m expecting my first baby (a girl) in 3 months and to get a glimpse of that motherly love 23 years on has me a wee bit emotional.

  8. The power of your blog is awesome! When I popped over to leave a donation for Amanda it was on $300 and once I was done it was well over $450 and you only posted a second ago! I think you’re all pretty amazing riding from Toronto to Montreal. That’s a LONG way! Sending lots of luck.

  9. The day you became a mom is certainly one to celebrate, as well as the wonderful person that has resulted. Happy day to you both! Also, I don’t think I’m alone here in thinking you are pretty inspirational yourself Steph 🙂

  10. Bloody hell, Stephanie,
    You just made me cry! I’m sitting at my desk at work with eyes filled with tears hoping that no one comes near me. How could I possibly tell our CEO that a Canadian knitting harlot made me cry?
    Seriously this is one heck of a post. I love your honesty – that is always what I love most about you. Your ability to simply tell it like it is without worrying what the world will think of you. Not that you don’t care, just the opposite, you do care but you are not afraid of being vulnerable.
    Amanda, and Meg and Sam for that matter could never have asked for a more loving Mum than you. They get the truth from you and you don’t hold back. And you love them with every cell in your body.
    I once did a 25K MS bike ride when I was about 47 or 48 and raised $1,600 and thought that was a pretty amazing feat. It doesn’t even hold a candle to what you are about to embark on. I applaud you and will be following your training progress and ride.
    I am off to log on to Amanda’s riding page to support her.
    Happy birthday dear Amanda and blessings to your dear Mum. You both have so much to be grateful for.
    I found this wee quote of gratitude yesterday.
    “Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” Thich Nhat Hanh

  11. Children are amazing creatures, aren’t they? Thank you for the tears, you put it into words so much better than I can, but I feel the same way about my three

  12. Happy birthday Amanda! No doubt you are already accumulating your own yarn stash in your home. *chuckles*

  13. Happy Birthday Amanda! and Happy Mother’s Day to you, Stephanie. Yes, I know we celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May. But in truth the day we become mothers is our own true Mother’s Day.

  14. Happy Birthday Amanda, and Congratulations to you on another Anniversary of being a Mommy, Stephanie. It *is* a big thing.
    And it’s ok. I’m 40 and I can’t ride a bike worth beans either. I, too, fall over like a tree and usually bleed from it.

  15. Steph, I love how close you and your daughters are. You are lucky to have each other. Have a wonderful birthday, Amanda!

  16. Happy Birthday, Amanda… may you and your Mom have an amazing ride — not only to Montreal, but also for many many years to come!

  17. AWWWWWWWWW. <3 I imagine it’s mutual. Or if it isn’t yet, it will be soon. This reminds me so much of me and my mum, because I’m the oldest and there were similar driving-related shenanigans and excuse me I need to go call her now and say “I’m SOOO sorry for all the times I said ‘well, DUH’ to you because now I know that’s really annoying, but I taught you how to knit so we’re totally even on life skills right?” (Not even *close.* But knitting is a really important life skill and I’m not sure how she survived the first 40 years of her life not knowing it.)

  18. Many happy returns of the day, Amanda! It’s always so amazing to me that the main goal of motherhood is to put yourself out of business, but it is truly an accomplishment on your part too, to have raised her so well that she can make it on her own, and yes, even inspire you to keep up with her! Well done!

  19. “Thanks” for the lump in my throat & the tears in my eyes Stephanie!!! The luv you feel for your 3 girls is how I feel for my 3 boys…priceless!!! Stay the course kiddo….you WILL do this ride. HAPPY, HAPPY Birthday Amanda….& MANY more!!!!(:

  20. What a beautiful blog entry. I love pointing out to my girls the lovely things they do. When I think of some of the negative things happening in our world I think of the beautiful young people of their generation and believe that we won’t be so bad after all. Happy Birthday Amanda!

  21. My mom never learned how to ride a bike, because she grew up riding a horse and they balance themselves. So perhaps thinking about the balance thing, and maybe not clipping in, would be safer for a bit?
    Your daughter is just an amazing person, and as my son struggles with what comes next in his life, I know there is hope, because you show that to me over and over again in your blog. hHank you.

  22. Thank you for another birthday post. I’ll be 23 on Monday, and I have enjoyed basking in Amanda’s Secondhand glow for the last several years. You and my Mum have lots in common, and the least I can say is that your daughters and I are very lucky young women.

  23. Oh, you made me all misty eyed. Doesn’t the good stuff (usually) override the bad? Happy Birthday Amanda!
    I do notice the link doesn’t go to her page… is she a Pearl, a McPhee, or a Pearl-McPhee?

  24. Sometime soon, you will be falling and then your foot will be on the ground catching you before you even realize you are unclipped. I promise.
    Sort of like your hands know how to knit without you thinking or looking. I learned to unclip faster than I learned how to knit without looking. I think it’s a self preservation instinct.
    Happy Birthday, Amanda!

  25. Happy Birthday Amanda. We’ve never met, but its like I know you through your Mum. I hope my child grows into the wonderful independent young adult that you have become.

  26. Our oldest daughter is 20, and amazing in her own right. Later this afternoon, we take her to her summer job at a youth camp—the first time she’s been away for more than an overnight. The camp is only 45 minutes away and she’ll be home for a day most weekends, but it’s still a big deal. I just got on here to see what your blog had to say—and now you’re getting me choked up! But thank you for your thoughts on what a beautiful daughter is all about! Happy Birthday, Amanda!

  27. Happy Birthday, Amanda. Congratulations on your riding. You and your Mum and sisters are all amazing people. Steph, you are going to make that ride and you are going to hear all of us cheering you on. Best.

  28. What a lovely tribute to your daughter. I am sure you are more like her than you state. Persistence being the main characteristic of a knitter and all.

  29. Happy Birthday Amanda. What a nice birthday wish to your daughter. That last para. brought a tear to my eyes.

  30. What a lovely tribute! You’re very eloquent. On a less eloquent note, I too have tipped over. The first time I was in the middle of a Chicago street, waiting for the light to change and there were onlookers everywhere. I’ll never forget that horrible, slow-motion, inevitable feeling, lying there on my back like a turtle, wheels spinning slowly, stunned, etc. But we all do it and while I think it’s forever lurking in the background waiting to happen again it’s ok! I believe the joy of riding makes it all ok.

  31. Dear Amanda,
    happy Birthday! You’re one lucku 23-year old, to have such a mum!
    A. Gacek
    Dear Yarn Harlot,
    Thank you for your inspiration in how to parent girls. I wish you have had some boys, too.
    When I grow up, I want to be you. ( I’m legally of age, but that’s of no consequence here, I think).
    Best regards,
    Aleksandra, mother of two People, who have turned 23, if you combine their ages 😉

  32. Happy Birthday Amanda!
    Congratulations to you, Steph and Joe for doing an excellent job raising a lovely, wonderful human being to add to this big world of ours!

  33. Beautiful post, beautiful daughter. But, please remember that life is not a contest, it is an experience. Pushing yourself so that you have accidents means that your ego is in charge and not your good common sense. Please pay attention to the messages you are getting from your body and do something else.

  34. What a moving blog. I will be turning 23 at the start of July, I have a 2 year old daughter that takes my breathe away every single day and I hope we will be like you both in years to come.
    Happy Birthday Amanda

  35. I’m with you – bike clips are really horrible things and dangerous!! I hate them. I understand that they’re efficient, but they might just be impossible for some people to adapt to. I’ve fallen over like a tree many times.
    And happy birthday, Amanda!

  36. Holy smokes, Stephanie! Thanks for THE BAWLING FIT I just had! 😉 Happy birthday, Amanda!

  37. What a lovely post. Talking about stick-to-itiveness. I was knitting a necktie on size 2’s in linen stitch. I know – what was I thinking? I was bored to tears – neckties are really long. I said outloud in my kitchen that I thought I was just going to quit. My old son who is now 27.5 and must have been about 18 at the time said, “Mom, do you know how many things I would have quit if you had let me?” Needless to say the tie is done. I don’t remember telling him that a lot of times, but it clearly was enough. You have done a great job in the parenting department.

  38. I wonder where Amanda gets her “way with words”? I’m sniffling here and proud for you.
    I can so relate about the road biking.. been there (falling over because I couldn’t unclip fast enough) and I have to say that you are in control of your biking. If you make this goal that you have, great, but you don’t have to do it again. Life is too short to not do the things you love doing.
    Happy Birthday Amanda!

  39. Just a quick note: I used to have problems unclipping and fell a lot, too. I switched to pedals with different cleats, and it was a lot easier. There’s also a way to loosen your cleats, so that you don’t clip in as firmly. On the downside, this can make your foot come off the pedal too easily. You might want to talk to your bike shop folks about this–they might have other suggestions.

  40. Happy Birthday Amanda! It has been a pleasure to watch you grow up on the blog and it has inspired me to be a great mother!

  41. Gads, Stephanie, you should pat yourself on the back as well. You raised this girl, YOU helped make her into the wonderful human that she is. So, Happy Birthday to Amanda, and good on you, Stephanie, for all your hard work.

  42. I don’t have kids but that is the nicest birthday commentary I’ve heard given to a daughter! So, Steph, on that workshop last weekend where you talked about “speed knitting”–could you share some ideas with us that couldn’t get up there??? 🙂

  43. I thought of all these lovely and clever words to write, then realized I really couldn’t say it any better than Naomi Rozell at 1:25 PM. So, ditto all that.
    I don’t think any of your three no-longer-little apples fell far from the tree, a very good thing. If I’d been a mum, I like to think I’d be as good at it as you. (Of course, I’d also like to think I’d get the same amazing daughters so I’d have something good to work with.)

  44. We gave birth –raised them –encouraged them –bleed for their struggles –NOW– our children’s lives are their gift to us. cry in pride –it is a wonderful life.

  45. Another great post. I would say that regarding Amanda’s way with words comes naturally. Hope Amanda enjoys her special day and you rejoice in your part.

  46. Thanks for the really lovely ode to your daughter on her birthday. I feel like this nearly every day with my little girl, and she’s only (ONLY!?!) six. How did that happen.
    I think I may have even felt this way on the day when she inadvertently threw one of the sweaters I knit for her in the wash and shrank it.
    Anyway. Your love for Amanda, and really, all of your girls, shines through on a regular basis, and it warms my heart every single time I read about it.
    Hugs to you too, mama. Happy birthday for you too.

  47. I have three amazing, talented, creative, fearless and beautiful daughters as well. The best gift in the world has been the opportunity to watch them grow. They inspire me every day. And, some day down the road, I hope you have the opportunity to see your daughters become mothers. Love is not a big enough word. Life is very, very good.
    Happy birthday to your beautiful and talented daughter.

  48. Happy Birthday Amanda! Learning to drive and moving out on your own and finishing school and starting a full time job are all AMAZING milestones, congratulations on all of your successes! And congratulations to you to Steph, raising kids is HARD!
    To all of the rest of the commenters… I’m the mother of 2 amazing little boys and it makes me so happy to know that there are parents out there working just as hard as I am to populate the world with decent, responsible, well adjusted young people! Keep up the good work 🙂

  49. Happy Birthday Amanda! You’ve grown up into a beautiful young accomplished woman!

  50. Happy Birthday Amanda. Love having you in the same month with me and my mom and my dad.
    Happy Mother’s Day to you Steph. This is the day you first became mom.
    You’ll get the hang of the clips before too long. I’ve got 13 years on you but have been riding with clips since the 70’s. ie when I was Amanda’s age. They will help you up those hills along with the gears. Learn to down shift early and unclip earlier as well.
    Have a great time with those practice rides. They’ll really pay off.

  51. Oh! My only child, a daughter, also turned 23 in March. It is so amazing to see her surpass me in so many ways. And yet to feel a bit of pride in knowing that I enabled at least some of that awesomeness. Best to both Amanda and Stephanie. And to my Kristen too.

  52. Steph,
    We parents are always suprised when our kids grow up..just as our parents were suprised when we grew up.
    When you oldest has her own children, she will come to you with the comment “I can’t believe how fast they are growing”. And she will, just as we were, be suprised at the fact that her children will grow up and walk away.
    Congrats to all the kids who grew up and walked away. Just be better people than we are and always do what is good, right, true and courageous. The world needs you…all of you.

  53. Amanda has a great Mom too. She seems like a confident young woman and some of that must come from her parents. We have only one child, a married 27 year old daughter that lives three hours away but who we seldom see mostly because of work commitments (shifts etc.) I do know how you feel. I am so proud of our daughter and her accomplishments and for just being the wonderful and kind person that she has become. It is fantastic having a child. And, although, I would go back to those childhood moments in a minute, it is nice being the parent of an adult for whom you have so much respect.

  54. Happy Birthday to a lovely young woman, and her mom is pretty special too.

  55. Yes clips take some getting used to. I bought some in April, and I swear that one of my knees is going to feel like sandpaper forever. Just started biking a year ago. Did a 140 mile ride in 2 days for Moveable Feast in Baltimore. I have to say, I was not in love with biking at first, but after doing a lot of spinning classes in winter to train, I was so excited to get back on my bike in early April. I had almost forgotten how I love my bike. And you don’t have to be the fastest or the best. The hills do get easier.
    PS. Happy Birthday Amanda!

  56. Amanda, hope you’re having a very, very happy birthday.
    And after receiving praise like that from your mom, maybe it’s time to (let her know about that freaky tattoo or boyfriend, hit her up for some money or homemade cookies, tell her you’re moving to Pago Pago, serve her with the restraining order, introduce her to your new pet squirrel, etc.) and tell her what a great mom she is!
    Y.H.: Would it help if you put the training wheels back on the bike?

  57. Happy birthday, Amanda and Stephanie!
    I use to call my mother on my birthday and wish her a happy birthday cause without her I wouldn’t be here.

  58. Thank you for sharing your love of your daughter with us. Warm fuzzies reading this.

  59. It is not if you fall over when you are new to clipless pedals but when. We all did it-at any age. But once your brain remembers to tell your feet to release you’ll never regret those pedals.
    Keep up on the cycling.

  60. Happy Birthday Amanda! I fondly remember my days of living alone. I hope you enjoy the simple pleasure of it!

  61. Happy Birthday Amanda! You sound amazing like your Mum, guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. 🙂
    Steph don’t worry if you can ride or not, it’s the effort and thoughtfulness towards others that counts and you got that in spades. Remember you can do it!!

  62. What a wonderful, loving tribute to Amanda from her mum, who helped her become a generous spirit. AFter I contributed to the AIDS ride, I was inspired to clip in and go for a bike ride, watching out for trees, of course. Amanda, have a great ride to Montreal!

  63. happy birthday to your beautiful daughter. your post made me cry it spoke to me so much as a mother…and my first and only daughter is only 8 months old.

  64. Happy Birthday to Amanda and thanks for writing such a lovely blog. I know my Mom will be having similar thoughts to you Stephanie tomorrow (June 1)and remembering 44 years ago when I was born. I know she had/has all the same worries as her baby takes all those firsts.

  65. Amazing how much can be raised in little increments. You go Amanda and Stephanie

  66. I know the feeling. When a friend made the most complimentary comments about my children, I replied that we (Hub & I) are very lucky. She immediately said, “it has nothing to do with luck”. You have put so much into your children; you are now reaping all that “work”. My two are grown now with (wonderful) children of their own and I still marvel at what lovely human beings they (all) are! Nothing to do with luck…..

  67. Happy Birthday, Amanda. So strong, so smart, so lovely. I hope you’re as proud of yourself as those that love you are. And Happy Birthday to you, too, Steph. What an amazing gift you brought to the light all those years ago. Way to go, Mamma-Woman. You did good work. xo

  68. Happy Birthday to your wonderful, amazing daughter. She’s a beautiful reflection of your family.
    I noticed Amanda has reached her goal in fundraising. Yea! So, in honor of you bringing into and raising a wonderful new adult, I sponsored you in the race. You can do it!

  69. I think there may be those in the BLOG who might disagree with Ruth in NJ on the “luck” issue. So easy to write platitudes when all goes well with your children. Some do the same spectacular and focused rearing job as Stephanie and Joe with far less success. And some may not be as talented parents who raise a wonderful, responsible child. Like Stephanie and Joe did. It is a matter of luck – just look around you.

  70. Happy Birthday,Amanda! May your life path be rich and diverse, joyous and long.

  71. Such an amazing daughter is a real testament to her parents! I am expecting my first child and am so excited! I can only hope (and work really hard) to help nurture such a great person through their life.
    Happy Birthday, Amanda!!

  72. Just bought a bike on Sunday and have been trying it out everyday this week. On my first real ride in 20 years, I totally blew the gear change on the big hill and had to walk the bike to the top. Luckily I didn’t end up eating my front teeth. The contractors watching were not kind. But I thought, ‘if the Harlot can bike to Montreal, I can get to the top of the hill and get back on’. If Karma exists, you will kick ass all the way to Montreal. Ride on!

  73. I learned to ride a bicycle age 50, never having ridden a bike before in my life. I learned on a road bike because I was learning in order to enter a triathlon, and I couldn’t afford to buy a beginner’s bike to learn on and then another bike to race on. Like you I explored the road surface at close quarters on several occasions but suddenly things clicked and it was like flying. You’ll make it, Harlot, all the way to Montreal.

  74. Happy Birthday, Amanda. I suspect you are that amazing because I have a daughter who is amazing AND because your Mom is amazing. Celebrate!

  75. I just realized how phenomonal that is – to raise your daughters to believe they can do anything and then it turns out they can. 🙂 Nice job, mom!

  76. DITCH THE CLIPLESS! It will be fine – the minor amount of pull you get with them is NOT worth falling over. Please, do yourself a favor and get some regular pedals. You’ll be so much happier (ask me how I know! 🙂 )

  77. What a lovely post. Happy belated birthday to Amanda!
    I was going to send some birthday love, but saw that she’d met her goal and then some. So I decided to spread the love to the rest of your teammates (and Pato, even though he’s on a different team). You can do it!

  78. And Amanda comes by her way with words naturally …….. her mother is the most inspirational and fun blog to read.

  79. What is this ‘unclip’ thing you mention? I know how to ride a bike, but have never run across that term.

  80. Kali – There are shoes that have clips on them that clip to the pedals so that you can push without your feet falling off the pedals. They are useful if you are going long distances. Not so good if you forget to unclip them when you are trying to get off.

  81. Happy belated birthday, Amanda! 23!!!
    I had my first bike fall ever six weeks ago. I was stopped at a stop sign, finally could go and the chain slipped, I rolled my pushing ankle, couldn’t pull it out of the pedal strap and went over like a poleaxed ox. That didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would, but umm, the split in my undercarriage certainly did. And I had to get stitches. 8-*

  82. You are obviously an awesome mom and you have 3 super awesome daughters. I love seeing your love for them and their uniqueness and strength with your birthday messages.

  83. I feel you on the road bike ineptitude. I still can’t manage an entire season without at least one fall while clipping in or out. Good for Amanda for doing the big fundraising ride (again? Or was that one of your other daughters?). I wish I could donate, but sadly, I feel as broke as a college student right now.

  84. I’m five behind reading your posts and running late for work, but had to wish Amanda a happy belated birthday. It is wonderful how you inspire each other for greatness. I have a son, yes just one, but he has taught me so much. Courage is his middle name. Not really but he does all those things I’d be afraid to do and because I was taught that I couldn’t do anything risky, I made sure he didn’t get the same idea. He is a former MARINE, one of the hardest scariest parts of my life and an avid sportsman. He goes to Canada when there isn’t enough snow in WA to snowboard. I always just think of the pain of falling. You are an awesome Mother and don’t give up.

  85. Fwiw, I’ve never gotten a road bike for just that reason: I’m terrified of clips.
    And happy birthday, Amanda! It’s wonderful to see a mum so proud of her daughter–and a daughter turn out so well.

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