I used to sit with you, propped up on my thighs so I could hold your tiny little hands and look into your sweet brown eyes and try to connect with you. What were you thinking? Did you know I was your Mommy? Would you laugh soon? Would you ever say my name? What would you look like? What would the future hold for you, for us? Then I’d stop and remind myself that I didn’t have any control over the answers to those questions. And I’d caress your teeny-tiny little hand and talk to you like we were long lost friends. Too often I wouldn’t be able to stop myself and I’d wonder what you would be like at 1, at 2, at 3…and at 12. It truly was hard to even imagine.

Now it’s here. Today you are 12 and it’s almost like I’m in a dream. It’s as if I’m still back in our living room, holding you in my lap, trying to imagine the best possible outcome and then waking up and realizing that it’s not a dream, it’s reality. You’re here, you’re perfect and you’re 12. A tween. An almost teenager. It’s nothing like I thought it would be. Truthfully? It’s way better.

Twelve is weird for anyone, you know. You’re stuck in that awkward place between still being a little girl and being an adolescent. I think when you have special needs the awkwardness is even stranger because you don’t care what anyone thinks. You can indulge in your “little kidness” without worrying what others might say if they found out. You still love Blues Clues and Backyardigans, but at the same time you can’t seem to get enough of Big Bang Theory and Malcolm in the Middle. You wear a bra and have pimples, but yet you still love your footie pjs. Your Dad is your favorite guy in the whole world but you definitely notice boys. Mo Willems’ and Olivia books are your number one choice, but you’re also learning state capitals and science. I’m guessing it feels strange to you too, to be in this in-between place, because you’re very sassy and emotional lately. I’m surprised by how typical you are these days. Moody, mouthy, loving and silly all at the same time.

I had a hard time imagining what you would look like as a pre-teen. Your legs go on for miles. They remind me of the stork from Dumbo but in a good way. I would have gladly given my right arm for your legs when I was your age. Honestly, I would have traded places with you in a heartbeat. With your gorgeous, thick, long, luxurious hair, your porcelain skin and long eyelashes and model-thin figure, I would have gladly switched you. I never dreamed you’d be so beautiful. People always use the expression “her smile lights up a room” but with your smile it’s actually true. I can be mad as all get out at you and all you have to do is smile and I forget why I was mad in the first place.

It was hard for me to imagine what you would be like when you got older. Would you talk and walk? What would you like to do, to play with? I didn’t know. The picture was blurry for me. At 12, you love to talk, to run, to jump. You love playing with your brothers and your stuffed animals most of all. Friends overwhelm yet excited you. I think you’re just so happy to be with them you almost can’t handle it. Your sense of humor continues to delight and amaze me. I wish I could get inside your head. I’m still your favorite person in the whole-wide world, your anchor, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It was always puzzling to try and imagine…you. When you have a typical child, it’s easy to imagine sports and friends and school and futures. But when you have a twist of so many unknowns, it’s almost impossible to imagine. I suppose in my most optimistic days, I would imagine you just like you are today. I imagined you beautiful, smart, happy and joyful. Imagine my surprise when my wildest dreams came true. This moment, to you, is all that matters. You’ve managed to conquer what most of us will spend our whole lives trying to achieve: to live in the moment, to not judge, to not worry, to not care what others think and to just experience what brings you joy. We could all learn a thing or two from you.

I still don’t know what I did to deserve you, my sweet girl. You are my heart. You are my soul. You are my love. You are my precious, first-born girl. You are my wildest dreams come true.

Happy Birthday, Olivia Jane.

O 4


5 responses to “Twelve

  1. Happy Birthday Olivia Jane! I cannot believe she is 12! She is an amazing little girl/tween. I know about the stuck in between. Bella is like that too. She wants to watch Glee & pg-13 movies but also plays with littlest pet shops & stuffed animals. This is a beautiful post & such a tribute to Olivia! Love you both!

  2. Happy Birthday to a beautiful young lady!

    Thank you for teaching the lesson of living in the moment and seeking joy. What a wise young lady indeed!

  3. I love this post so very much – how scary and overwhelming it must have been for you to simply “not know” what was to come. I am so happy that your wildest dreams have proved to be a reality. She is beautiful and happy and loving life – exactly what ALL parents want!

  4. Just….beautiful! She is truly an amazing girl. Happy Birthday Olivia!!!

  5. I can’t seem to wrap my head around 12 years. It does not at all seem like I’ve known you for that long. I still have pictures of her as a baby hanging at my office. I came across video of her not that long ago that never got erased off my camera after my master’s project. She has grown into such an amazing young lady. I’m proud to know her and excited that I get to continue to watch her grow!

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