Sixteen years ago on this day, at 9:26 PM, Amanda was born, and I became a mother.
Today, Amanda is a worldly, lovely, decent human being that I like a great deal. (I think the fact that I really like my kid is worth noting.
I am honour bound by the international code of mothering to love her. No matter what she does, no matter who she turns out to be and no matter how much laundry there might be on the way, I have to love her, and honestly....I don't know how I would stop...but liking your kids is optional, and I like her anyway).
Today I'd like to offer Amanda my personal congratulations for surviving 16 years of dodgy mothering. My baby, my funny child, my sweetest first is sixteen years old. She is no longer anything I can call a child, no matter how desperately delusional my hopes are. She is the beginnings of a young woman....and I am going to need to begin to let go a little bit.
Before I do, there are a few things I'd like to thank her for.
I'd like to thank Amanda for being my guinea pig. (I bet her sisters are grateful for that too.) I'm sorry about the 26 parenting books I ripped through in the first six months of her life before I learned to trust my gut. I'm sorry about the night that I let her to cry in her bed, I don't know what came over me. I mistakenly thought for just one evening that some 48 year old manly-arse of a pediatrician knew more about my baby than I did, and I believed him (however briefly) when he went on about a 9lb person needing to learn to "self-soothe". I understand now that people who cannot possibly meet thier own needs are completely excused from the attempt. I was sleep deprived and fell for his fancy lure of the promise of sleep. Amanda had the decency to screech at the top of her lungs for the entire time that I followed his instructions, thus making it perfectly freakin' clear that he knew nothing about my particular baby.
I'd like to thank Amanda for eating all of the fancy-ass baby food that I made. I don't know what I was thinking when I made all that zucchini-apple puree. I thought it was important at the time. I understand now that I should have spent that time playing peek-a-boo and simply mashed a steamed apple with a fork.
I'd like to thank Amanda for the patience that she has taught me so far. All the times that she pushed me, all the times that she did things her own way, all the times that she refused to be anything other than the person she was....I had to learn.
I'd like to thank her for all the flexibility that she's taught me. (The year she was two was really a time of profound growth for me). She taught me that just because I had it figured didn't mean that my approach was right for everybody. That just because I thought I was in charge didn't mean I was in charge and that just because I was the mother didn't mean that she wasn't a whole person with a right to an opinion that needed considering.
I'd like to thank her for helping me to learn to laugh at myself, to lose gracefully and to be empathetic. She taught me that a lot of the time being a grown up means sucking it up.
I have to thank her for being a demanding kid, because it taught me how to be generous, how to share...and that sleep is a privilege, not a right. Amanda was the person who taught me that people go before things, that love comes before money, that laughter is better than laundry and that your kids really, really don't care if you dust the house, but that they would like to have the time you would have spent doing it.
Finally, I'd like to thank her for growing up so well so far, for not being pregnant or on smack, and for making the last 16 years a pretty good trip.
Happy Birthday Amanda.