20 for 20

Today the child who has given me the most years of practical parenting of teens- reached the age of no longer being a teen. Today is the day she becomes half my age for half a year or so. We won’t discuss the irony of mothers and daughters 20 years apart…even though on her other mother’s side of the family it is traditional.

I have written a lot of marshmallowy birthday posts about this child. This may be another one.

Twenty Things About Michelle

  1. She scarred me. Literally. I show everyone evidence of this-the wild cat I took into my home, family and heart. (Note my other youngest child scratched me this morning-at about the same age-certainly with the same attitude) I show everyone this because no matter what, I can look at my arm and see her with me. I can remember both of us behaving badly. In other words, a poorly earned badge of honor.
  2. She wants the combo breakfast. Eggs, bacon, pancakes/waffles. Do not make her choose one thing. That pretty much is true of Michelle in general…choices provide endless possibilities and she wants to try them all.
  3. She doesn’t want to wait for people to finish eating. Watching people eat makes her ill. It is vaguely ironic that she works in restaurants and thus has to watch a lot of people eat each day. Really-sitting still is the problem. She needs something to do, to think about, to act on.
  4. She has made me cry perhaps more than any other person on the planet other than my mother. No, she probably didn’t know that until just now. Yeah-she is powerful like that.
  5. We can push each others buttons to the point of driving each other and other people to distraction. But, she knows I love her because she can, because I can and because we got to the point where we could and not end up with doors slammed.
  6. She made me insanely angry exactly two years ago…teaching me a lesson about grand plans, teaching me to go with my gut and not with Denise rules when it comes to the right moment to give a gift.
  7. She taught me that birth order does make a difference…even in a family with two youngest children
  8. For years her sign of approaching menstruation was her wailing that she had no friends. Oddly enough, the now 14 yo has the same quirk.
  9. There is perhaps no phrase that makes me angrier than “Well, Michelle isn’t really your child, is she? Isn’t she Denise’s child?”
  10. She thinks me far more naive than I am…and always has…(oddly her older brother always seemed to think I was far LESS naive than I was) I let her think that, for both of our sakes.
  11. Joseph is creeped out by being taller than she is now. For years, she was the big sister both age and size wise. He is uncomfortable that he towers over her now since she still towers over him in other ways.
  12. Rebecca still has a healthy fear of waking Michelle up…born from too many years of Rebecca being THE LOUD ONE in the morning (and the early bird) and having the wrath of teen girl come upon her.
  13. Elizabeth…the youngest of the youngest children has a conspiratorial bond with her big sister who is also a youngest child. I think they compare notes on making the most of their birth order.
  14. My mother who didn’t meet Michelle in person until just a few months ago (and who seems to not remember nine years of my phone calls to her about my teenage girl) thinks that Michelle is sweet, polite and kind. Yes, Mama, she has grown to be well-behaved when life requires it. In fact she always has been…ok except that burping in public thing.
  15. Her older sister and her shouldn’t be in the same room with their mother if they haven’t seen her for a while. I thought those two girls were evil together until I realized their mother was the catalyst around which they spun. Poor quiet Christopher in the middle of that. Of course, that got no better for Chris when adding me and the three little kids to the mix.
  16. She has a compulsive need to talk me up when around her father and her father’s parents. I always walk out of those experiences feeling like mother of the year, Betty Crocker, and June Cleaver rolled into one.
  17. She likes BLTs and people to cook for her. She likes a clean kitchen but not cleaning it. She is horrible at keeping bathrooms clean.
  18. Cinderella.
  19. She cares deeply about her mom, her grandmother, her older siblings and her younger ones. She spends a good deal of time trying to teach the younger children the right path. (even if it was the one she learned the hard way)
  20. Today she is 20 and half my age…and yet, I think we both know that neither of us knows it all at this halfway point but she better know that I love her with a crazy fierce love that I never expected. Happy Birthday Baby Girl.

graduation 012


  1. Oh, what a great post….and what an adorable photo TW. Twenty wonderful years old….Happy Birthday sweet Michelle. Love you guys…. ~Joy

  2. Happy Birthday Michelle and many many more! says:

    Take advantage of the time you spend with each other. For as we age it seems to fly even faster each day. Best wishes for everything you’ve put into your goals Michelle.

    Jim Anthony, Kansas City

  3. Jim Anthony says:

    Happy Birthday Michelle and may there be 100 more after this one! Cherish all the time you spend with your loved ones, time passes quicker than we realize in the fast moving world. One day we look around and our loved ones have passed on. Not meaning to sound so glum. Just a reminder time moves quickly. Wishing you all the best in life.

  4. How did the Vegetarian Dirty Rice get posted as vegetarian, when it contains beef stock? That is, the addition of canned French Onion Soup is a beef-based product. Help!!

  5. My recipe doesn’t use beef broth but if it did I would use the ever handy vegan “beef stock” and completely meat free French Onion soup. Our grocery store sells both in the natural foods section but natural foods stores and Whole Foods carry them too. Another option is to add caramelize some onions and add 1.5 cups water or vegetable broth.

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