Seventeen on the Seventeenth

You were born on Presidents’ Day, making me a mother. And now we celebrate seventeen years on the seventeenth, another February Monday that teases us with sun in the city, snow in the mountains, and just one year left of childhood.

Just one year left to relish your youth, be irresponsibly wild while simultaneously mastering physics and calculus.

Just one year left to argue with your mama about screen time limits, driving rules, homework completion.

Just one year left to be the stern at the front of your sisters’ ship, leading the way towards a future none of us can predict.

How can it be seventeen years after this moment in the sun, rocking you in your jaundiced stupor, my baby who would never wake?

Just one year left of your childhood, a childhood filled with formal dresses (of your choosing) every day until age seven; of trips across continents and oceans; of making, keeping, and losing friends; of an ever-tumultuous relationship with school; of dancing and skating and skiing and snowboarding, but never hiking; of a first love, gained and lost; of always wanting more and finding a way to get it.

Just one year left for your mama to be able to call you her girl… Because you are so fast becoming a woman.

A woman who wants her hair braided while completing calculus so that it’s curly for the dance team.

A woman who wants to be an aerospace engineer or an Air Force pilot, a mother, a wife, a keeper of all of beauty’s secrets.

A woman who woke from her jaundiced infancy to fight for everything she wants, whether it be a better part-time job, a new dance partner, a different class set for senior year, or a friendship that has lasted since kindergarten.

As you turn seventeen on the seventeenth, I just wanted you to know that I love you. That you have made me more than a mother. You have taught me how to listen. How to have a stronger voice. How to raise a girl in the twenty-first century (with patience, love, and technology all mixed up into a tumble of confusion and hope).

You have just one year left of childhood, Isabella. Lucky for you, you already know how to fly.

Fly high, my girl. Fly high.

Happy seventeenth.

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