To remember

Each year on my kids' birthdays I try to write a note reminding us of what that time in space feels like. Why I love the fact that my kids probably won't remember all the nights I fed them cereal for dinner, I also hate the thought that we will forget many of the details of our lives as a growing-up family.

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Dear Becca,

Happy birthday to my sweet sixteen-year-old. I know by now that I should gulp and shudder at 16, that sooner than I'd like I'll be driving YOU to college. I know all about the slippery slope of high school -- here one minute sleeping in, studying, out with friends, learning about being a grown up . . . and then graduation . . . and then . . . POOF!  So I'm doing my best to enjoy every moment with you, even when you lose your focus while driving and I clutch the dashboard like a drowning woman. Even then, I like being with you.

This year must be strange for you. You've spent your entire life with sisters -- older sisters to watch and emulate and laugh with and borrow their clothes. And now you are the oldest -- our household of girls is dwindling. Dad and Parker have pulled even. Two boys. Two girls. (And no, we are not going to count the dog.)

If we are looking for the good, then I'd say that we are back to a 2 and 2 parent/child ratio, which hasn't existed in these parts since 1997. You are the grand prize winner of a whole barrel-full of parental supervision and commitment. Like today? When we practiced parallel parking for two hours? I was thinking there was no way I could have done that with four kids at home -- needing rides, and supervision, and school help. Lucky you! Interminable parallel parking -- just what every girl wants.

I know you, as smart and calm and collected as you are, actually don't require a ton of diligent supervision. You've always had a level head and a strong desire to choose the right. I have silently watched you course-correct yourself at times, surveying your options, testing the waters, and then pulling in your growing limbs to the warmth and safety of home. You are a strong girl. You are almost there -- almost grown. But wait a while longer. Play little girl for just a few more moments.

Right now I can hear the strumming of your guitar from upstairs. I think that's one of the things I miss (and will miss) most about having a house full of kids -- the music. I remember well the afternoons when the piano was going full throttle, and the phone was ringing, and Parker was eeking out his first (loud) notes on the cello. I thought my head would split in two. I fervently called for Calgon to take me away. But that fervor has quieted now. How grateful I am for your guitar and your beautiful voice. I hope you'll sing me all the way through the next two and half years . . . and even some after that. 

I think all of my kids are pretty witty, but Becca, you just might take the cake. Your one-liners, delivered at the perfect moment, in the perfect accent, generally catch me off guard. I laugh quickly and often with you around. I hope you'll remember that a sense of humor can get you through some tough and uncomfortable situations. When in doubt, crack a joke. Unless it's in a job interview, or a very important exam, or in church. Well, sometimes in church. I've never been especially adept at being serious and humorous in just the right moments. So I'll leave those distinctions up to you.


Becca, you are a good sister and a good friend. You forgive easily. You are always up for a party, a late-night trip to Target, an after-dinner run to Walgreens for CANDY. And stylish? Forget about it. You have more style in your little finger than I have in my entire body. You bounce back from disappointments with panache. You are a surprisingly good skier, a full-blooded Texan who took to the slopes like a natural. Who knew? You are a hard worker. You even made the salad for your very own birthday dinner without a peep of complaint. You are always the first to pitch in and help out when there is a party or a project or a deadline. And you know what else? You're a little bit of a slave driver -- often creating the parties and projects and deadlines. But that's okay, because you make things happen. Otherwise your old momma might just eat microwave popcorn and watch Breaking Bad reruns all day long. So, thanks for that.

When it comes right down to it, it's a privilege to walk this road with you -- to be your Momma. Watching you grow up into the girl you are? the woman you are becoming? It's the best seat in the house.

Love you Becs.