All Hail Queen Elizabeth

Elizabeth, it is your birthday, your 17th. You know I know that because I texted you first thing this morning. Then you asked for your birthday post. Why was it not up? Err, at that point I hadn’t thought about it. You are the youngest child after all. Really, it was because I woke up to patchy, then no Internet.
I did think about you and your birthday ALL day though. (even while thinking about no Internet) I found a baby picture of you…without your siblings:

Elizabeth in a sling.

Elizabeth in a sling.

That was a bit tough to find. You were born in the digital age of cameras, but before everything uploaded automatically, securely (?) to a cloud.

The picture above is pretty much how I remember you as an infant, except the closed eyes. I probably took the picture because you were asleep. Novel! Your brown eyes were always WIDE open, watching everything. You were not even two months old in that picture, but you’d already stolen my heart. You did that during my pregnancy though.

You were the baby that I used teeny tiny letters to say I was going to join the Trying To Conceive board in testing. I knew I was pregnant already. But, no one else did. You were my tiny secret. Well, Ava might have known. She’d asked for a new little sister for her birthday after all.

But, there were so many only things about you from that first moment. Let me tell you about them:

  • You were my only induced baby. All of you were post-dates, but only you got the pitocin to get your way started into the world. By the way, I made Jim Bars the night before the induction to give to the nurses. They loved them.
  • I also fought a flame war while in labor. On Dial Up.
  • But then, later that day, I got to announce your birth on dial up to thousands–ok, hundreds of people. Your nurse from the pediatricians office remembered me doing that. “You were the one with the laptop.” It was odd in those days. But, my friends, needed to know you had arrived.
  • You were the only baby to sleep in a bassinet. It was a combo pack n play with a bassinet attachment
  • But you didn’t really sleep there. So, you became the only one of my babies to share our bed from infancy. Sure, there were naps here and there with your siblings–but only you were the attachment parented bed sharing baby.
  • You were the only baby with colic
  • You were the only baby that had her life documented online from the very beginning
  • You were the only baby who I put in the pack n play in the den in front of Barney and Teletubbies with a prayer that you would nap. You rarely did. Instead I held you while I worked, while we played with your siblings, while we went places. The stroller was for show or to push Ava and Rebecca. Rarely were you in it.
  • You were the only one who I carried in a sling. And, you were carried EVERYWHERE in it. I have another picture of you, well, I know it is you, at Magic Kingdom, on Dumbo, in the sling, with Rebecca beside us.
  • You loved to wrap the sling around you long after you stopped being carried in it.
  • You coined the term Breastbed Chair. The glider rocker and My Breast Friend nursing pillow were often our home when you weren’t in the sling.
  • Speaking of coins, my penny princess, you were the only child of mine to swallow one and spend a night in the hospital. I crawled in the crib like bed with you. Denise dozed in the recliner. They couldn’t fish it out, so they pushed it into your stomach. I presume you eventually eliminated it, but I never saw it.
  • You made the same faces in early pictures that you do now.

Enough about babyhood. It makes things worse. Worse? Yes. Because this is your last birthday before you graduate high school. I know you’ve heard me whine: “I need more time” with the bigger kids. But, really, I need more time. I want to rock you. I want to cuddle you. I want to tell you all the things I think you need to know before you tackle college and the grown up world. Yes, part of me is “Yay, last winter in Chicago”–but the rest of me knows that once I have moved into our new home–empty nest will strike hard. Really hard.

You are the child who has kept me on my toes for the last 17 years. The “normal” one–but never the average one. You make me laugh. You make me sad. You make me angry. You make me melt in a mommy puddle. Sometimes you do all those things at the same time. Most of all, you’ve brought me joy.

This past year has been rough for you for a lot of reasons. Instead of bringing more evil–you melted into kindness. You love to drive. You hug. You are sweet. (Yes, you still have that evil side) And I know you get up to more things that would make me cringe than you think I know. But, you are you. I love watching you grow into a woman. I love your tenderness for children. I am so freaking proud of you for going after what you want, even if no one else agrees. Your going to the job fair and getting a summer job all on your own, increasing the hours once you started, and being responsible and good at your job speaks so well for your future. I may have told everyone I know how much that impressed me. I am proud of how you speak to injustice–whether in your family or in the world. I am proud that you are taking the time to SEE and act on those injustices outside your own life. You are the smart one.

You are growing up. Seventeen. But, you will be my baby forever. Not just my baby in the way your older siblings are my babies–but my baby baby. The third child, the sixth child, the one I wanted, the youngest, youngest child. The one that not only walks around with my heart outside my body, but swoops it up and drops it spiraling like you did when you were doing circus. And now I’ve written your birthday post…and it is probably not the one you wanted. But, I can’t condense seventeen years of the awe you have brought into our lives into a few paragraphs.

I love you baby girl. I love you so very much. That never changes.

Anything. Anywhere.

Things I Care About

  1.  This blog! I do. It doesn’t show lately, but I really do care about this blog.
  2. My family
  3. The environment! And sharing links I find interesting.  Be sure to watch my Twitter https://twitter.com/thatwoman and my Facebook page (don’t forget to like, follow, receive notifications–because otherwise Facebook is not keen on small pages–even if I am) https://www.facebook.com/TarrantCurates Both are link heavy but show what I am thinking more than anything else these days.

    Sometimes the environment, sometimes news, sometimes funny stuff, book stuff, safety, Israel, or whatever catches my attention (which is a lot!)

  4. Good food and old recipes–particularly if I can either find a healthy retro recipe (They exist!) that is vegan or somehow tempts the taste buds around here.
  5. Books
  6. Fashion (Yes, fashion. Gwynnie Bee owns me in the strangest way ever.)
  7. The news–wars, BlackLivesMatter, the economy, vaccination, children
  8. Mental health, Suicide
  9. GLBT matters
  10. Women’s rights
  11. Dogs! Rescue Dogs!iPhone pics 114
  12. YOU! You haven’t heard from me in a while and I’d love to hear from you. Also, I finally got a replacement for Google Reader so if you have a blog/rss feed–hit me with it in comments.

A Lesson in Social Media From Teens

Once upon a time, a friend of one of my kids friended me on Facebook. She immediately told my child that I didn’t know how to use Facebook because I posted too much. My child gave it an eyeroll. I laughed because well–social media is one of the things I get paid for at work. I probably have read more white papers, case studies, best practices than most people on the Internet. I know how to sell a link.

So, what could a bunch of teenagers accidentally teach me about social media? A lot. You see, as I have already posted, my youngest child turned 16 today. Her father did a lovely tribute on his wall with pictures and comments. But, the real meat happened on her wall.

I look at birthday wishes on people’s walls ALL THE TIME. Happy Birthday Ann! Have a great birthday Jennifer! I hope your hubby spoils you Maxine. There is sometimes a variation. I try to say something about my wishes for their year ahead as an example. Goodness knows when you have someone or three having a birthday every day, it becomes part of your routine.

Then I read these kids’ birthday wishes for my daughter. It wasn’t just junk or Happy birthday Elly! These kids talked about how they met, mentioned a special time or two, talked about what they liked about her. They shared a picture of the two of them together. Yes, there were some “Your cute {sic}! HBD” types of comments. But most of them offered more. I have a friend or two that will go with a line more than happy birthday. But, how many go above that? None? How often do I go beyond that? Erm…not much. I will write a birthday post or something for family. Maybe. I sort of expect people to know they are loved and appreciated.

These posts weren’t extensive for the most part. Yes, one of them was a long ramble. (but it was touching and interesting) It wasn’t anything that would ADD a whole lot of time to a birthday greeting. It adds so much as a gift to the birthday person though. It also gives a gift to that person’s community. How many times have you known a person for years through one aspect of their life and never realized they had a hobby you found interesting? I bet that’s happened. Or you know something cool about a friend that maybe her other friends don’t realize.

So, there you go. I am going to try to say a bit more in my birthday wishes. I feel like it will be a big part of building community among my friends and family. I feel like it also will just make a difference to a single person. As adults, we have so many less than stellar birthdays. This is a way to give back.

Think about it. And thank you to the youngest child’s friends for taking me down a notch even if they don’t know they did. She’s the child that has always taught me I don’t know everything…and this was a reminder of that.

Sublimely Sixteen

Elizabeth is sixteen now. It is easy to get lost in thought while trying to come up with something coherent to say about her. I’ve pondered talking about her birth story. About her active nature even in the womb. I want to talk about how she knew how to get the attention on her from the very first minute of her very first day.

You see, Elizabeth bears herself with power. She owns that power and doesn’t let anyone forget it. Yes, she’s sixteen and has her angst. She also cuddles like a fiend. She is beautifully active–from riding her bike to school and everywhere else to swinging from some silk at the top of the Actor’s Gymnasium.

She’s lively. I see her light up a room with a smile. I see her stick up for the underdog. As she get older, I see more and more empathy for the disadvantaged and care about the forgotten. Yes, I still tell her to check her privilege–but not as much as I do the other children.

Elizabeth combines her confidence and power with extraordinary intelligence. She sometimes hides that in her efforts to spite people she does not respect. Yes, of course, that is cutting off her nose to spite her face, but it is how she does things. You are left in no doubt that she COULD do something if she chose to do it.

An example: Elizabeth, like her siblings before her, like her mother, chose to learn to play an instrument. Unlike her siblings and mother, she actually set forth and practiced for hours. She taught herself entirely–no lessons, no class, no “you need to practice if you want to be any good.” She decided to play. She looked up how to do what she wanted to do. She keeps at it. That strength and determination will get her far.

Even though you might think this house is a battle zone sometimes, with all the kids willing to blame Elizabeth for being a “hellspawn” and a “brat” there is also an intense love for her. Part of that is because she very much typifies “I am allowed to say and do everything I want to my family, but say one word truly against them and you are done.” There is a lot of love in Elizabeth. She is fierce in that love.

Lizzy and RJ Cuddling

Speaking of love, she has her first “real” boyfriend this year. She seems to be handling the relationship with far more maturity than I had at her age. She is clear on her limits. She didn’t freak out when I gave my standard know why you are having sex and do you remember how and what and when you need to use birth control. She brings the boy over and exposes him to her family. Not only that–he seems to have the character to not only tolerate it but seems to enjoy it. That is far rarer than you might think. By the time you’ve raised five out of six kids to young adulthood, plus some strays, you see a lot of love interests come and go. It does my heart good to see that raising a confident, smart, young woman can mean attracting kids who have some of the same values.

Elizabeth also loves the dogs with a passion. She will yell that they are wild. Crazy! Eat her stuff. She tells me we have too many and in the next breath she says “we should rescue more.” She’s also a big fan of cats, hedgehogs, oh, pretty much every animal.

Yes, Elizabeth is challenging. She is hot-blooded. She is sometimes the child that makes me laugh and cry at the same moment because she is right–but not right. I want to scoop her up and keep her cuddled next to me always…but also know that of all the children–she is the one most uniquely qualified to take the world by storm, on her own terms, and be the amazing change we all want in the world.

Happy Birthday Elizabeth. Anything. Anywhere. Anytime. I love you Little Bit.