When I was 14 my parents called us all together to announce that we were getting a new baby in the family. For reasons my 32 year old brain can no longer quite justify, the whole idea just made me mad. There were already five of us and money was fairly tight and my parents were so OLD to still be doing THAT (it's probably karma that I'll be lucky to squeeze one kid out by the age my mom was having number six, and I certainly don't plan to be done with "that"). So I made it clear that I was uninterested in this child and would not be helping with it's care. I believe the words my family still uses to tease me were, "I will not love this baby."
Seven months later, a few weeks after ninth grade ended and I was busy getting ready to go be a high school kid, Elizabeth arrived. And I discovered I was dead wrong about being able to love this baby. It was a clear case of us not really knowing anyone was missing until she showed up and filled in a hole nobody had seen. There was still not enough money and plenty of times that it felt like there were to many damn kids in our house, but I never once wished she hadn't come.
Over the years that poor kid dealt with the joys and pitfalls of being the youngest in a family full of opinionated older siblings. We taught her lyrics to songs she shouldn't have been listening to (but seriously, hearing a three year old sing "I'm a midnight toker" is probably the greatest thing you will ever experience), we took her to concerts when she was wee, we introduced her to our friends who often liked her better, we filled her head so full of our thoughts and ideas that it's a wonder she was ever able to come up with any of her own. But that she did. She has carved out a place in our family that is absolutely unique.
There are so many things I admire about my little Elizabeth-the short short haircut she can totally rock, the surety of herself she has at nearly 18 that I still didn't have at 25, her sense of style, her familial loyalty, her softie side that not everyone knows about, her hilarious blog. She was the only kid in the family that had to deal with the day to day reality of my parent's divorce and she did it with a bare minimum of teenage angst. She's pretty and she's smart and she's hypercreative. She has eight cameras and you never see without at least three of them.
(and she knows how to use them, I love this photo of her.)
She makes her own clothes, she has the cutest little nose, she sends adorable texts and even better Christmas cards, she is a wonderful mother to her cat Tasha (a cat who is skittish around everyone else in the universe), can hold intelligent conversations with adults but still knows how to be a kid. She's way better at boys that I am
Did I mention that she's so creative?
She and I have the same face but the mold got better over the years. (that nose! that adorable nose! where is mine?)
Tomorrow she is graduating from high school just a couple of days shy of her eighteenth birthday. Eighteen! Graduating! Not a baby anymore! It's hard not to feel a little jealous of all the millions of opportunities in front of her. I'm so proud of her, for the amazing little person she's become and for all the potential she has to be even more.
I love you so much little girl-congratulations!