On April 1st, Gracen Marie turned 9 years old. My bright eyed firstborn that surprised me in the middle of the night, and made me a Mama, is half way out of my house. I can't help but think back on the first 18 months of her life when she was the sole star of the show. I got more parenting advice then I ever could have needed, some good, some bad. But absolutely nothing anyone tells you, or that you read in a book, could ever prepare you for the exact moment they place your baby in your arms. Your life is no longer your own. You are now responsible for this tiny human being that you love so fiercely, so immediately, that I can't think of a word in the English language that could accurately describe it.
I remember the moment of meeting her so vividly, because it was also the same moment that I gained a new appreciation for my own parents. My poor parents! As the 3rd born, I was a wild child, who did things my own way, and rarely thought of my actions and how they affected my parents. But as soon as you have a child of your own, you know exactly what you put them through. And so, the worrying begins.
I can't tell you how many times I checked on her when she was sleeping to make sure she was still breathing. I was the definition of a protective Mama Bear. And it probably got worse as she got older, and even more so with her sisters. I hear a lot of people get more relaxed the more kids they have, not me. Part of it is a struggle with anxiety, and part of it is my struggle of knowing time is so fleeting. I think when you lose your own Mother before you have kids it makes that sentiment of "enjoy every moment" even more urgent.
The hardest thing to remember is that it's not about me. Of course I've had ideas in my head of how she'd grow up, sports that she'd play, activities she'd enjoy. But, she's her own little person. And it's not my job to make sure you love K-State (although you do), or become a lawyer (I mean you could argue me under the table, and I am a pro at arguing), or cut your hair the way I want. It's my job to make sure you are kind, even when you're frustrated, use your manners, even when others aren't, and to use your ferocious determination for good in the world. To never take for granted the life you have been given, because you only get one. To treat the environment with respect, because every small act can add up to a big difference. I have no doubt in my mind that her bigger than life personality is going to change the world some day. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can, are the ones who usually do.
I can't wait to see what the next nine years have in store. I can only hope that she'll still want to have lunch with her Mom every year on her birthday.