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Birthday Memories

imagesMy baby girl celebrated her birthday last week. Seems she grew up, went away to college, taught school, married, birthed babies – all in a flash of time. Even though she’s a mother, she’s still my girl.

Daughter was Husband’s and my first child. To take her home from the hospital, I dressed her in a frilly pink outfit with a white lace collar. The top barely covered her belly and the plastic lined bloomers were much too big over her cloth diaper. I swaddled her in a pink blanket and tied the ribbon attached to her white eyelet bonnet under her chin. The thirty-minute ride to our home seemed long. She cried. No doubt she was hot, uncomfortable, and unhappy strapped in an infant seat. I rocked and cuddled as soon as we were home. I didn’t want to put her down.

For her first birthday, Daughter had a three-layer cake, frosted with white icing and decorated with pink and purple and yellow flowers. She wore a white and blue bubble suit and no shoes. I set her on the kitchen table right beside the cake and encourage her to dig in. She smeared icing on her hair, face, clothes, and even her toes. And she smiled and laughed and babbled and entertained all who watched – grandparents, aunts, uncles, Husband and me.

Tennessee Tech’s homecoming coincided with her 5th birthday and Tech’s parade was just for her. She shook purple and gold shakers, gathered a bucketful of candy thrown by people riding on floats, and high-fived with Awesome Eagle.

When Daughter was ten, she planned her party, a skating party at the roller rink. With her friends, she skated for hours as I watched and silently prayed that no one would get hurt. They raced and chased each other. Skated on one skate. Held hands and slung the last person off the long whip. Thankfully, there were no broken bones or serious bruises. Not even for us grown ups, wearing skates, as we hugged the wall to stay out of the way. We ate pizza and strawberry cake, and then skated more. Great fun for kids.

Then came her 16th birthday when Daughter’s friends threw a surprise pizza party. I was happy they loved her enough to celebrate, and my only contribution was to order an ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins. One of Daughter’s friends picked up the cake and since they didn’t have knife, and didn’t ask for one at Pizza Hut, they set the cake in the middle of the table and all dug in with their forks.

During her college years, I mailed cards and gifts, wished her happy birthday over the phone and sent silly emails. And I realized that Daughter was as I’d prayed she’d be – an independent woman.

Last year Daughter’s husband and children planned a big celebration. They invited friends and served a catered meal. Guests laughed at pictures of past birthday celebrations.

In recent birthday pictures, Daughter isn’t alone. Ten years ago, she held her firstborn in her arms. Last week, her five children surrounded her and together they blew out the candles on her cake. The youngest, age 17 months, cried. Maybe it was the off key singing or the loud noise. I snapped a picture and then comforted Daughter’s baby boy and hoped no one noticed that I wiped his tears and then mine.

Children become adults much too fast.