Stuffed inside every nook and cranny of a bookshelf in my living room are photo albums of every shape and size chronicling the highlights of my life. These books of precious memories can easily be divided into two categories:
1. Before my daughter Melissa came along: 3 albums
2. After Melissa: 6,974 albums
Ok, so perhaps I am exaggerating....but only a bit! Seems the arrival of my cherub 15 years ago sent me into a photo taking frenzy.
Melissa is sleeping - take a photo!
Melissa is crying - take a photo!
Melissa is eating - take a photo!
Melissa is pooping - take a .... wait, No!
The pages of these albums captured so much more than smiling faces hamming it for the camera, they preserved my thoughts, my emotions, my journey through the wonders of motherhood. There are notes describing the daily activities of Melissa's first year, programs from countless talent shows and chorus concerts, report cards, birthday greetings, and Melissa-made drawings of cats and dogs, and flowers, and friends.
These days, it is a rare occasion where I can carve out a few moments in my busy life to dust off the albums and immerse myself in memories of days gone by. But today, perhaps, as I celebrate my daughter's birth, it's a good time to sit on the floor and open the pages to the past.
Or is it?
My Melissa has evolved from a 6 pound pumpkin who entered the world at 8:30 pm on July 1, 1997, into a beautiful, poised, talented, dedicated, creative, funny, intelligent, and wonderful young lady.
The age of 15 has ushered in a new era of independence for my offspring. She has finished eighth grade and in two month's time she'll enter the doors to that bastion of older adolescence.... high school. No longer can I justify allowing my overprotective nature to keep her confined to the house, afraid to let her ride her bike to the local pool, the library, or to meet a friend for ice cream.
The twinkle in her eyes tells me she has happily embraced this new found freedom, and provides a glimpse into the months...and years to come. Biking will soon give way to driving, and high school will quick will give way to college,
But not yet, not now, not today.
We'll celebrate in a low key way, with my husband Bob, my inherited daughter Jessica and her boyfriend Brian, and a couple of Melissa's close friends. There will be laughter, and food, and gifts, and phone calls from loved ones, and yes, of course, pictures.
And the photo albums, well, perhaps they need to sit, undisturbed, at least for now. For why should I celebrate my baby's birthday by clinging to the past, when I can relish in the beauty of today and enjoy all that she is, and all that she has become.
Happy birthday Melissa. I love you!
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