My baby girl turned Sweet 16 on Tuesday. I am so proud of her, but it is also a bittersweet moment. This milestone leaves me reveling in memories.
We celebrated on Sunday with her friends by all getting pedicures or manicures. As a surprise, a limousine picked us up from the salon and transported us to dinner. Her friends titled me "Officially the Coolest Mom in the World!" We had a nice dinner at an upscale Mexican restaurant, and the limousine picked us back up for a "night on the town". We rode to Dallas where we cruised downtown blowing hooters and shooting confetti poppers out the window, and we encouraged complete strangers to wish Courtney a happy birthday. We also celebrated with singing and dancing in the limousine and had a sparkling cider toast. I think all the girls had a really good time, and it was all I imagined for her.
Now for the memories. I was "sweet 16" (16 ½ actually) when I got pregnant with Courtney. I fell for a blue-eyed football jock (I've always been a sucker for blue eyes), and eleven months later, Courtney was born. When I found out I was pregnant, I prayed to God she was a girl. I had always wanted children, and I so desperately wanted a daughter. Even though she was what she was by that point, I bargained with God and told Him if he made this child a girl, all my other children could be boys. I just really wanted a daughter. God answered my prayers and held me to my promise J
Courtney was born a healthy eight pounds and delivered after pushing for only three contractions. She came out screaming and hollering and kicking her baby fat legs. Everyone was talking to her, but she continued to scream. When they handed her to me, she still cried. Then, I spoke to her, and she instantly hushed and turned her head to my voice. It was one of the most magical moments in my life and it still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it. When I'm 100 with Alzheimer's, I think I'll still remember that! Instant bonding.
I was 17 at the time of her birth and I lived at home with my parents, but Courtney was MY baby. My parents did an awesome job of assisting me and giving advice when I needed it, but she was mine and her care was left up to me. While still in high school, I got up in the middle of the night for feedings. I changed diapers, bathed, dressed. I worked to pay for her needs. I took her anywhere I went. I admit I couldn't have done it without my parents (or Courtney's father's help), but she was my responsibility, she was my baby girl!
Courtney was a beautiful blonde-haired blue-eyed baby who brought sunshine to whomever she encountered. I marveled in her growth and development and enjoyed every minute of her babyhood. She was calm, happy, complacent.
I married her father and moved out when she was two, and we started a new chapter of our lives together. Our marriage was rough to say the least, but I always had Courtney's cute smile and blonde curls to cheer me up and keep me going. When we finally split for good when she was seven (and after baby brother arrived), Courtney adjusted well. Equally important, she accepted the love of my life into her life when the divorce was still so fresh. It was like as long as she had her Momma, she was okay. As long as I had her, I was okay.
Courtney has been a source of entertainment (as any child is). I have stories of her embarrassing me in Wal-Mart ("I said….what's that on your face?"). She hoarded her lunch money in first grade in order to buy fruit roll-ups, which made her teacher think we were on "welfare lunches". I found long blonde locks on my carpet from where she'd cut her own hair. She danced, did gymnastics and played soccer and softball, and I was there cheering her on in all of them. Whatever it took to make her smile!
When I was pregnant with Courtney, I educated myself about babies and parenting so that I would do as good a job as I could. Coupled with my babysitting experience, it served me well. Now that those baby days are over, I strive to teach her about being conservative, articulate, educated, independent, assertive…teach her about being a strong woman.
I marvel at how much she looks like me (except she does have some of her Daddy and she's WAY cuter!), and I am amazed at how similar our personalities are. Equally so, I am proud of our differences, especially the choices we've made for our lives. She is level-headed and secure with a strong self-esteem which I certainly lacked to some degree which led to me getting pregnant at sixteen. I can honestly say no other "mistake" in my life has turned out so well!
God could not have given me a better daughter, and I am so proud of the young lady she has become. However, it doesn't mean this milestone isn't bittersweet as I watch my only baby girl grow into a woman and be less and less dependent upon me. I encourage her to spread her wings and fly, but cringe and want to yank her back into my nest. I miss those long blonde curls and holding my hand in the store, yet I long for the days when I am done "parenting" her and can just be her friend. I pray she is happy and independent but doesn't venture too far from her Momma who loves and needs her so much. However, I will support and embrace whatever path she chooses for her life.
Courtney, you are a beautiful, smart and talented young lady who has brought me pure joy in my life. I love you!