A while back I posted a piece about Milestones. You can read it here if you missed it. Since this whole blogging thing is new I am always seeking feedback from family and friends. My older daughter read Milestones sitting in my living room with me nervously watching and when she burst into tears I knew had “done good”. Blondie hasn’t been home much with school, her summer internship, etc. so I asked her one day, “Have you read my blog?” I was surprised when she erupted and went on and on about me not being proud of her and she was sorry she had never done anything blog worthy. Yep, parenting fail folks. I explained that each blog post is inspired by recent events and needs to be something I think people would be interested in reading about. To which she went on about “not being interesting or inspirational” and “never had a milestone worth writing about”. This whole conversation turned into a little banter that has gone on for several months now between us. Every time I would tell Blondie she did something wonderful or express my delight in her latest accomplishment she would simply ask, “Are you going to blog about it?”. Well let’s just say stubbornness is in the family DNA and I decided not to write about her specifically until
I tortured her for a little while it felt right to me.
So why today? It’s not the lack of inspiration or pride I feel. I am overflowing with those feelings on a daily basis with this kid. Quite simply, my baby is turning 21 today and I wanted to write an entire blog post about the little shit.
Blondie was born 21 years ago after months of vomiting (7 to be exact) and after a handful of hours in labor and delivery. You learn a few things as you parent your way through life and I learned that drugs are good. So while I labored for an entire day with my oldest child with no pain medication and felt like I was run over by a bus afterwards, when it was time to meet Blondie I entered the hospital and asked where the anesthesiologist might be RIGHT NOW. Three pushes later my bundle of blonde hair and barely there eyebrows summersaulted her way into my heart. She was brilliant from the start latching on about 10 minutes (little did I know then she wouldn’t let go for almost 16 months!) after being caught by the Yogi Berra of OBGYN’s. She was a delightful baby, sleeping soundly, eating heartily and round and perfect in all the right places. And. Then. She. Woke. Up. Blondie had colic. About four weeks after birth she started screaming at me and if I think about it, she has never really stopped.
Starting out in the 90th percentile in all areas on her growth charts she quickly dropped right off the chart in height. I held that chubby short baby for the first two years of her life. She wanted no one else other than me most of the time and to be honest, she didn’t even really want me, she wanted my boobs. If I wasn’t available she would shove her hand into the shirt of anyone within arm’s reach and search for a working boob. We laughed about it then and love to tell her about it today. She was fiercely jealous of anyone else who wanted my attention and was known to toss a kid or two to the floor if I dared to pick them up. When she wasn’t in search of her latest milk fix, she cried pretty much 24/7. I won’t lie. It was hard and sucked a lot but we always had faith that someday she would stop crying. We vacationed with her screaming, we celebrated holidays with her screaming and I will admit sometimes I sat on the front porch for 20 minutes of sanity leaving her inside to scream her brains out. Everything that had worked with her older sister was tossed out the window with Blondie. The previous rules simply did not apply to her. Come to think about it…they still don’t.
We survived, she thrived and now here she is turning 21 years old. There have been bumps along the way as there are for everyone. Some really fun ones include a near drowning in the Delaware River while visiting family. Two simultaneously broken wrists after falling out of a tree during her sister’s soccer game. A few scary visits to the ER for various illnesses. Severe homesickness during sleepovers, sleep-away-camp, and her first semester of college. We got through them all together with love, prayer and a lot of patience.
So, today, in honor of 21 years of Blondie, I would like to list 21 times I was blown away by her awesomeness. Here we go:
- Blondie loved baby dolls. She loved baby dolls of color the most. She had tons of them and mothered them with a fierceness that I know she will bring to her live, non-plastic children some day.
- She loved to be naked as a toddler. Well, naked except for the winter boots and wool hat she wore…in July. The neighbors loved to watch her dance in front of the glass storm door in her “go-go boots”.
- I love that she likes to try new things. When we signed her sister up for dance class, no one had the heart to tell Blondie she wasn’t actually in the class but that didn’t stop her from rocking a matching leotard and dancing all around the lounge area while we waited for big sister to finish.
- Sleepovers were a disaster with Blondie and I drove countless times in my pajamas in the middle of the night to retrieve her from homes where, “the dad was weird”, “the carpet feels crunchy” or “I just want to come home”. Always a considerate guest, I was thrilled when she told me that I had to call the host parents in the morning to let them know she had left hours earlier because she called me to come without telling anyone and was concerned they would wonder what had happened to their guest. Needless to say she wasn’t often invited back.
- Being short was not always a welcomed trait for Blondie until her second grade teacher decided to choose one child in the class to trace all year long as part of a study about shadows. She rocked her short status and found a new appreciation for her bad-ass self as she admired her paper peeps hanging in the hallway all year long. I still have all 10 of her at various shadow height.
- That same year I was thrilled to be called in to “meet with the teacher” to discuss Blondie’s writing ability. Imagine my surprise when the teacher cleared her throat and explained she couldn’t display my daughter’s work in the hall. Puzzled I asked what the assignment was about and was a little shocked to find they were supposed to write about what was under their bed. The task seemed simple enough. Blondie had instead decided to write about my bed and detailed the whipped cream and chocolate sauce we supposedly had hidden there. None of it was true of course (I swear!) but I never could look that teacher in the eye again…
- I enjoyed the time I picked her up at Nursery School and the teacher greeted me with, “I’m glad to see you are feeling better Mrs. Busse”. Confused, I inquired as to what she was referring to only to be told that Blondie had come to school that morning and announced that her mother was dead. Clearly I had offended her that morning. Good times.
- She has always worked hard in school and it started all the way back in first grade when she came home and announced that she couldn’t read the “sticks” on the page like everyone else in her class. Despite my extra lessons and multiple meetings with the teacher nothing helped. After a visit to the eye doctor, Blondie was found to have a double astigmatism and the doctor was surprised given how poor here eyesight was that she had done as well as she had up to this point. Even having to wear an eye-patch for several months didn’t stop her from embracing her situation. We simply told her she was a pirate-in-training and taught her how to “argh!” properly. Which she did.
- Blondie has always been a loyal friend. On one particular day when the teacher was redistributing the crayon colors from the students boxes she suddenly called out to the class, “Quick everyone! Hide your crayons! Mrs. Yuro-Clark is trying to take them!”
- This kid always knew her limits growing up. When she played softball (for a fleeting moment) we were there to fully support her with the complete outfit, bat, duffel bag and such. After the first “game” she announced she was finished with this sport because people spit on the ground and got her stuff dirty. Moving on…
- Soccer brought a similar experience when after the first game ended she walked off the field and asked where her trophy was.
- Born with a charitable heart she never missed an opportunity to shop for those in need, donate precious items and volunteer her time. As my little helper, she went shopping with me for needy students in my school. She was trying to make sense of why someone would put underwear on their Christmas list. This didn’t make sense to a kiddo who always had her basic needs met. When I tried to explain that sometimes Mommies and Daddies cannot afford to buy things for their children she quickly found solution. She asked if we could go to McDonald’s so she could get a job application and put it in with her donation. You know…so they could get a job and buy stuff…like underwear.
- Blondie’s awesomeness was in full view when she missed National Honor Society by a few tenths of a point her junior year. Determined, she struck out to find out what needed to be done to reach her goal. She worked incredibly hard and was inducted into the society the following year. This grit and determination would come in handy down the road again and again.
- Playing volleyball was a huge part of her life. When she started volleyball despite being 12 and short her fierceness earned Blondie the tongue-in-cheek knick-name Sasquatch. In high school when the coach asked to move her up to the varsity level early I was concerned she would be exposed to older student behaviors and attitudes too soon. I didn’t want her getting in over her head. After some consideration we relented and she not only moved up, she booted the senior setter from her coveted position after the first game and remained the star setter until graduation. Watching her run the court during a game was thrilling and terrifying all at the same time. She may be small but oh, is she ever mighty.
- Teaching Blondie to drive nearly killed me. Her first solo drive was on a back country road down hill. As she was
freaking outdriving, she suddenly exclaimed, “Oh good. I found it.” Her sister and I looked at each other and then to her and asked what exactly she had “found”. I think I heard Liz praying from the back seat aloud when Blondie calmly told us she lost the break for a little while but her foot found it again. Did I mention we were going downhill?
- When Blondie left for college we were unprepared for the incredible bout of homesickness she experienced. Our whole family spent hours on the phone with her in turn. It was a hard time for all but we got through. I was fully prepared for a 3 year old Blondie to hang on my legs screaming “Mommy, don’t leave me!” It was a little awkward when she was 18 and we were standing in the foyer to her dorm. However, she is now very sensitive to other students who experience the same kind of feelings when leaving home. This just proves that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. As a toddler I was not able to peel her off my legs easily and cried the whole way to work with guilt. Later, I watched her fly off to England for a study abroad program and this summer she moved to Washington DC for the whole summer to work. Blondie always leaves me in tears.
- On one of our many visits to see her in college her freshmen year I was happy to see she was well adjusted and enjoying
beercollege life. When we passed the dormitory cleaning lady in the hall I have never been prouder than when the woman pulled me aside and told me how kind and nice my daughter was to everyone at the college and, in particular, the cleaning staff. Good grades are one thing but to me that conversation spoke volumes about the young woman she was becoming.
- When Blondie’s older sister got engaged and asked her to be the Maid-of-Honor we learned the full effectiveness of Google and how much Blondie loved her big sister. Never having even been to a bridal shower, she Googled everything from the bridal shower to bachelorette party to the toast. She rocked each event completely. It can be hard to put your own wants and tastes aside, especially at 20 years old and you feel like the spotlight is always on your big sister. She was thoughtful in planning events and kept her sister’s wants and needs in the forefront always. She only asked a few times how long after the wedding would she have to wait to tell her sister off.
- After two successful years in college and at the start of her third year, Blondie spent months prepping, interviewing and getting several internship offers at great companies. She wrestled with taking an offer from the largest accounting firm in the world or from a much smaller firm where she had several positive experiences. In the end, she picked the smaller firm and then was confused when the big guys kept calling her. We explained that people don’t say “no” to them very often. I won’t lie and say it didn’t cause her some concern and angst. It was a very tough decision and she was under pressure from multiple sources to go with the “big guys”. She had a successful internship and learned a lot about listening to your gut. Of course, I’m proud that she had earned so many wonderful opportunities but I am more proud that she was willing to do what seemed right for her and did not succumb to outside pressures or be intimidated. Now, armed with her first job offer, and experience under her belt, she is on her way to a successful career.
- Blondie has the ability to see the best parts of people. I love that she has friends in all shapes, colors and sizes. I love that she branches out and hangs with people that are different than her. She sees them for who they are and loves them no matter what. When dealing with people she doesn’t particularly like she has the ability to keep those feelings in check. She will often call us and tell us all about a person that she can’t stand. Nervously we ask questions like, “You didn’t actually say that to her did you?” or “Remember, you are not in charge”. She always laughs and says “Of course not Mom. We are going to lunch tomorrow”. This is a skill that is severely lacking in today’s world. The ability to get along with people we don’t agree with is sorely lacking and I’m glad that she is learning how to master this life skill.
- Many people tell me that Blondie is my mini-me. It’s true. She has my snarky sense of humor, determination and tendency to not like to be told “no”. She is one of the only people that can make me laugh when I’m frustrated or feeling ill. It’s a weird thing when you see your kid act or speak or behave in a way you would have. It brings feelings of pride and fear (Oh…shit…she’s me). We have a special relationship and an unbreakable bond that I hope continues to be strong for our lifetimes. She is truly my mini-me. Only blonder.
Happy Birthday Blondie! I love you kid.