Our Daughter is What?

When you find out you’re going to have a baby you imagine every detail about him or her. Whether you are parenting through birth or adoption, you imagine who they’ll look like, which traits they will inherit from you–or if they will branch out on their own and show you a whole different side of themselves that you and your spouse don’t even have. I assume that’s what it’s like for everyone; it was for me.

My first delivery was a long endeavor, and Miss Gracie took her very sweet time (and sixes seemed to be prominent in her entrance–almost thirty-six hours of labor, born on 06/06/1996, and fifteen minutes shy of 6:00 pm. I’ll just let you come to your own conclusions! 😉 ). When she was born, we got the details that new parents do–it’s a girl, she is this many pounds, she is this many inches, that’s a healthy cry. The only surprise at the time was that she had red hair. Both her father and I are blondes.

We were blessed to go through the normal growing stages with both of our daughters. They learned to roll over, crawl, scoot, walk, feed themselves, and play with others just as children should–all to prepare them for school and the social behaviors that go along with learning.

Here I will take a slight detour to give a brief synopsis of both Chris (my ex-husband) and me. We are outgoing. We are VERY outgoing. We are loud. We (think we) are funny. We presume ourselves to be the life of any and most parties. If there is a story to tell, we will fall out to tell it–usually with a lot of hand gestures and facial expressions. We’ll even fill in others’ voices, if we need to clarify what so-and-so said. This was how we raised our children. This is what our home life was.

Back to my eldest …

Grace lived happily her first five years in our home, though she was a little more quiet, more somber, and serious than Chris, Gretchie (other daughter), and me. She still shared stories, squealed, was loud and was funny. I come from a large family with lots of grandchildren and we had a close circle of friends with children our children’s ages. There were lots of “known” children to play with as she grew up. As the onset of school approached, we happily bought a backpack and school supplies. We proudly bought the approved school uniforms and pretty little shoes. A new lunch box and a supply of snacks? On it! We are ready for school.

The first day of school started great. We were in the afternoon class of kindergarten. We woke and had a yummy breakfast, had playtime with my daycare children, and got ready for school. And my pale little redhead got more pale. Then she turned green. Then she got sick all over her newly purchased school uniform and pretty little shoes. I stared at her. I tentatively asked if she was scared to start school. She cried. What? Think Julie, think! What is this? Think back to your first day of school.

I *clearly* remember marching right out to the school bus my first day of kindergarten, ready to take on the world in my pretty yellow dress with ruffles (it was the 70’s–I was hip). Where was my twin sister, Kathy? Y e a h . That’s right. Mom had to drive her to the school and walk her in. My twin sister was terrified to start school. Oh. Oh my. Do …. do we have a shy child? Quick! Try to remember. Yes, there are the memories–Gracie hiding behind her dad or me when we met new people, very quietly answering questions asked of her in her toddler years, not wanting anyone but Big Daddy or Mommy holding her. That’s right. Hmmm. Now what to do?

I looked at my child in a new light. Granted, I didn’t know what to do in this new light, but as any parent will attest, you adapt quickly. Instead of marching into the school and taking on this new world loudly and with great humor, we quietly walked in and met the teacher. We stood at the edge of the room and took in each and every detail of the room and how it was set up. The teacher (a true gift from Heaven!) stood so patiently and waited for Gracie to get acclimated. Then we three moved about the room to investigate. Then I stood and watched my baby girl take the teacher’s hand and step away from me to begin this glorious new adventure. Suddenly, I wanted my shy baby back.

I got that wish the next day when it was time for the second day of school. She definitely is one who takes a while to process change, but she made it.

My baby is now eighteen. She is still shy. She still resists change. But she has learned to take her time and process the next step in every situation. Okay, she stresses out THEN processes the next step. She doesn’t need to hold my hand anymore. Suddenly, I want my baby back.


Well, here goes …

I asked my oldest daughter last night what I should write about for my first blog. She stated it should be how awesome she is. So it shall be, but I will also be including her sister–she’s pretty awesome, too (and a little about me. I am pretty awesome, too.)

Grace just graduated high school and is struggling at the moment with decisions for her future. She has a lot of opportunities in front of her. I would love to wave my magic wand and know what the best option is for her, but we all know that life doesn’t work that way. I am pleased for her that she has a struggle with these options–any options. She is a great kid. Well, a great adult. She is very helpful and hard working. She is funny, fun, sometimes shy, sometimes out-going, a hard worker, and overall … pretty awesome. She likes NASCAR, hockey, football, concerts, country music, rock music, classic rock music, cooking, healthy living, and fitness.

Gretchen is a junior in high school. She is also struggling with decisions for her future, but gets to think a couple more years on them. She is already investigating colleges. She, too, is a great kid. She is funny, fun, NEVER shy, very out-going, hard worker, hard player, and overall … pretty awesome. She likes hardcore music, a little country music, concerts (a lot of them), NASCAR, and hockey. She doesn’t like cooking so much (she caught a towel on fire once, set her back on cooking now), but she is a world-class eater. Thank goodness she, too, also is healthy and fit. She is the proud owner of two rats, Duncan and Barry; and a cat, Martin. Truth be told, she also has a slew of stray cats that hang around our house. And a ‘possum named Dan. Long story.

At this point, I will state that I brag about my daughters a lot. Even if there doesn’t seem to be anything to brag about, I find something. I am extremely confident that they are the very best things their dad and I ever did. In life. Ever. They are awesome.

Me. Hmm. There is a lot here. Brass tacks: I am a middle-age mom. I am the seventh out of eight children (the eighth being a mere five minutes younger than me)–four girls and four boys. Well, women and men by this age. At least chronologically. I will not vouch for anyone’s maturity. I am fairly outgoing. I think I am a fairly likable person, though I can name at least three people right now who may think otherwise. I am not fine with that, but I am okay with that. It took me a long time to know that I am not everyone’s cup of tea. I work in politics, in a nonpartisan office. I, too, like NASCAR. And rock music. I watch football and hockey, but that’s because it’s always on in my house. I am dating my very first love, Herman, whom I met when I was thirteen years old. Oh, and I have a Rottweiler-mix dog, Annie.

I will also make a quick introduction on the girls’ father, Chris. We are divorced. We are very good friends. Better friends now than when we were married. We still truly want the very best for each other. He is a great dad. My daughters adore him, and that makes me happy. He is a drummer (probably their music influence from early on), a truck driver, very funny, a NASCAR and hockey fan, likes cooking, and is also a world-class eater. He just had a stress test (long story, and probably a future blog) so I know he’s healthy. I will sit quietly on the “fit” part, as I have no room to talk because I hit the snooze every morning on my “get up and exercise” alarm.

I’ve been through hell. More than once. I try to look at everything with humor. Even when it’s not humorous. I don’t always have humor when I am going through events, but can find it eventually. I give credit to my mother (and grandmother) in learning to deal with issues this way, based on hearing all my life that this, too, shall pass.