My one and only daughter turned thirteen today. It is surreal to me, this notion that there are three teenagers living in my house, the 4th trailing closely on their sneakered heels. Sometimes I still feel like I’m 18. Although I’m no mathematics scholar, I realize those numbers don’t add up.
I so often feel ill-equipped to be in charge of these four young lives, but The Universe keeps moving forward, and I am expected to do the best I can with what I have been given.
And — oh, boy — have I been given much. My cup overfloweth — with love and laughter and laundry.
Here’s what 13 looks like in our humble home…
Thirteen is a pair of Chuck Taylor high-tops.
It’s One Direction posters all over a door that’s simultaneously adorned with “Do Not Disturb” and “Knock, Please” signs carefully and meticulously handwritten in multi-colored bubble letters.
Thirteen is a room full of blue and purple and red and orange because the pink that once colored your existence is far too babyish and repugnant to currently inhabit your walls, your comforters, your clothes, or anything associated with your teenage self.
It’s carrying your Safe Sitter Certification like a badge of honor.
Thirteen is first attempts at mascara and blush and lip gloss with a little hint of color.
It’s burning your forehead with the straightening iron and painting your toenails with expertise honed from numerous giggly girl sleepovers. It’s cutting your ankles with your new razor and experimenting with various and sundry hair products.
Thirteen is a perpetually messy room littered with scraps of paper, magazine cut-outs, and discarded gum wrappers.
It is begging for JUST ONE MORE Diet Coke when aspartame has been banished from the house.
Thirteen is a birthday wish list comprised of chewing gum, One Direction duct tape, and an assortment of multi-colored Sharpies.
It is knowing every word in the movie version of “Les Mis,” dreaming of seeing “Wicked” on Broadway, and wishing Johnny Depp wasn’t as old as your Dad.
Thirteen is internalizing the body image issues your Mama unwittingly handed down. And for 43, it’s wishing the self-descriptors such as “fat, ugly, and overweight” had never, ever passed from your lips — especially when little, impressionable ears were tuned into every word you spoke.
Thirteen is loving your brothers one minute and punching them the next.
It is pining for a sister, even though you’d probably hit her harder than your brothers when she “borrows” your shoes and ruins them in the mud.
Thirteen is texting and Snapchat-ing and Skype-ing and FaceTime-ing… and all the while understanding there’s nothing better than a real, live, in-person friend hanging out on your oversized bean bag with you.
Thirteen is traversing the landscape of new friendships while wearing just the right amount of self-protective armor.
It is reaching out a hand and trusting it won’t be rejected.
Thirteen is the uncanny ability to spot every cute boy within a one-mile radius and to announce each sighting loudly to your eye-rolling brothers.
It’s crying in your Mama’s arms when your heart is broken and turning your back on her when you run into the movie theatre with your loud, laughing friends.
Thirteen is having the vocabulary that surpasses your years… and the inability to understand its subtle nuances.
It’s loving with reckless abandon and shooting daggers with carelessly tossed words.
It is dip-dyed hair, torn-up t-shirts, and intentionally mismatched socks.
Thirteen is beautiful and fragile and carefree and adventurous. It is self-conscious one minute and over-confident the next.
It is fake mustaches and quirky accessories and anything-owl-related decor.
Thirteen is my heart wrapped tightly around, inside, and outside a blue-eyed girl on the edge of becoming a woman.
It is choosing to loosen your grip when you want to hold on a little more tightly. It is letting her make her way… and accepting that her way is not necessarily your way.
Thirteen is 4,745 days of memories — freckles, skinned knees, braces, sand castles, princesses, bad dreams, bedtime stories, tutus, sports adventures, speech impediments, surgeries, haircuts, skanky blankies, shower singing, swim lessons, onstage performances, karate kicks, pudgy hands slipped gently into mine.
Thirteen is here and now. It is vibrant and full of promise and potential.
Thirteen is my girl.
My girl is thirteen.