Ah, she looks cheerful, but my sweet little girl spent her twelfth birthday swaddled on the couch in blankets, blowing her nose, sipping chicken broth and, happily, watching Just Add Magic on AmazonPrime. Have you seen that show? It’s adorable.
We’d planned a non-stop day of breakfast out, fabric shopping, her first time at the temple, dinner at a pizzeria and a cake from a fancy bakery out in Draper. Rather, we watched the entire season of Let’s Add Magic while I made a cake, mac & cheese and put up all the Valentine decor. I told her she could come to the table in her pajamas, but she’s Mary. Birthday dinners call for curls and twirly skirts.
Ben accused us of stealing his birthday theme, but why not? I think it’s festive enough for all five of our birthdays in the next few weeks.
As we finished up dinner, we poured pink fizzy lemonade and went around the table to say what we love about Mary:
“She laughs at our jokes.” “She’s always willing to make cookies or help me clean my room.”
“Mary’s always ready for an adventure (except when she’s sick).” “She makes up the best stories.”
Sammie spoke about wanting a sister her entire childhood and her delight in gaining one now (past the diaper/crying/breaking things stage).
Turning twelve is a big deal. Especially for a Mormon girl. This Sunday Mary bids farewell to Primary (ages 3-12) and moves on to Young Women’s (12-18). Tucked in her scripture bag, is a brand-new temple recommend which she’ll be using as soon as she’s done coughing and nose-blowing, to do baptisms for the dead. Any time now, she’ll be asked to give a talk in church, sing with the youth choir, go to activities on Tuesday nights and this summer…. girls camp.
And she’s ready.
Although Mary contributes nicely in class and sings with gusto, she became well-known in recent months for offering prayers with the phrase, “and please bless that sharing time won’t be so boring today.”
I’m pretty sure the Primary leaders are holding a party when she leaves.
These past two years of home school have given me an extension on her childhood. We chat over breakfast, she twirls through the kitchen, I hear the tap tap of her typewriter from upstairs where she writes her letters and stories. Perched at the kitchen counter, she does her schoolwork, asks me questions, laughs out loud at her online curriculum (timeforlearning.com we love them). She can finish my sentences and my stories, and yet we get along so well because we give each other space and time to be alone. An eleven-year-old sidekick underscores the truth that our kids are always watching us– when we drive, how we treat people at the grocery store, what we spend money on, how we spend our time.
Every milestone brings it’s own set of emotions. The weddings brought nothing but joy. I miss my little boys, but they are moving forward, moving our family forward. But with the youngest child, it’s all a bit different. I know we’re moving forward– I’m excited for Mary and everything ahead of her, but I’m also leaving a much-loved part of my life behind. I fantasize a lot about time travel– visiting my younger self, my toddlers and babies, picking up little ones from preschool, constructing trains on the floor, chasing toddlers around the backyard. Sometimes I think the old ladies in the grocery store telling young moms to “enjoy it because it goes so fast” are really time-travelers visiting their younger selves. Because really, what else would you say?
I did enjoy those days. And I enjoy these days. So, so much. And really, she’s still pretty little. We have time.