My first baby girl is 16 today. (Sigh …)
I know, I just really can’t even believe it. Not only does time seem to have flown by, but I remember my own life at 16. The full-circle moments are just odd, but I wouldn’t trade any season of motherhood. I would like to note: I like parenting teenagers, and I’d like to stay right here for a while before things change again!
So, here on the day Cate turns 16 and I celebrate her making me a mom, I want to tell you this story:
At the end of February, Cate had her first sleepover that wasn’t because we had out-of-town friends or needed logistic help. Our standard rule had been: No sleepovers. I won’t get into all the reasons why, but it was a boundary I didn’t find hard to parent even though there were seasons my eldest daughter didn’t understand.
Then during the basketball season, her friendships with three teammates strengthened. They had been her friends for years, thanks to the small, private school they all attended together. As a sophomore, Cate was playing her fourth season of basketball. The team had grown and improved during that time. Our beloved Lady Lions went 15-1 and my girl wanted to celebrate with her closest friends. She started talking to her dad and me about the possibility of a sleepover a few weeks before. I like these girls and was proud of their hard work, not just because they won but because they demonstrated their commitment to working hard with each other. Greg and I decided she could invite them to our house.
Two of the girls drove here in their own cars after their last game. That seemed monumental at the time. Seeing my girl’s friends’ vehicles in our driveway made me happy to have them gathering here. I don’t know how much sleeping happened at this sleepover, but I’m pretty sure the amounts of fruit snacks, Capri Suns, Gatorade, and Cheez-Its consumed were greater. They were easy and polite — and cleaned up after themselves. Greg and I have always wanted our house to be where our kids’ friends want to hang out. We’ll always have a fridge of drinks and plenty of Totino’s Pizza Rolls ready for them.
We’ve come so far in 16 years. I can’t even document all this girl has taught me. She’s so much like me, but she’s also much more secure in her faith than most teenagers I know. I love sharing my birthday week with her and then celebrating Mother’s Day right after. She recently started her first job at the local movie theater. She loves photography, basketball, and her friends, whose cars I hope continue to come and go from our driveway.
Rachel likes to ask how old Cate and Ben will be when she’s such and such age. The other day Rachel asked how old her sister would be when she was 16. I quickly added the eight years between them: 24. I just can’t imagine being there. Rachel called Cate my favorite, mostly based on the fact we chit-chat a lot in the car when she’s in the front seat with me and Rachel is disappointed she has to sit behind us. Cate chimed in, “I won’t even live at home when you’re 16. I’ll just be you, Mom, and Dad because Ben will be 22.” Whoa. It’s true. Rachel liked what she heard.
And I want time to slow down just a bit and I’m not thinking about that third child driving yet. Let me soak in the first one turning 16.
Happy birthday, Catherine Anna. You are my favorite. (So are your siblings.) I love all our talks, Jeopardy binges, watching you grow into the woman God created you to be, and getting to experience the teenage years with you. Here’s to learning to drive and all the places you’ll go.
Look back on her life: One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Baptism. Nine. Ten. Eleven. Twelve. Thirteen. Fourteen. Fifteen. Of course, you can read more about her birth, adoption story, and early life in my book, “Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family” too.