And the last one is 21…

She might be the youngest of my three but she was the first to make me a mama. She is the one that I see the most of me reflected back at me….the stubborn strength, the fierce protective heart of those she loves most in the world, and the rage at the injustices of the world. And Lord help me my mouth!

My baby girl turns 21 today. At 8:05 pm tonight to be exact but only a mama remembers those things. Right about now (way before dawn) I was walking into the hospital to be induced and due to a full moon and a whole lot of women who wanted babies to come before Christmas it was a long day for both me and the other doctors and mamas to be. I remember the impatience to meet her. The anxiety over the actual getting her into the world process. The enormous responsibility I knew I was undertaking. And the purest love I have ever known when I held my baby girl in my arms for the first time.

Easily one of my favorite pictures of my baby girl…

It was just Em and I for the first four years of her life before Fred and the other two babies came along. We had a hell of a support tribe in Mom, PawPaw, and Nana. We’d have been ok just us but Em and I are pretty damn glad the rest of our family came along. Especially since Em is a daddy’s girl through and through. She loves her mama, don’t get me wrong, but she’d leave me on the side of the road for another day on this earth with Fred. The only cloud on today is that he’s watching it from up above instead of celebrating it here with us today.

It took us a long time to find our way with each other after he passed – somewhere around the time the boy kind moved in he got tucked up under my wing and she under Fred’s – but she is the kiddo who protected me against the world in the darkest days I’ve had in the years since Fred died. The kiddo I still have to remind sometimes that I’m the mama and she is the baby. The kiddo who didn’t turn her back on me when I gave up on myself. The kiddo who didn’t know how many days her existence gave me a reason to not give up.

The thing about Em that I have always admired is her independence. She doesn’t need ANYONE to define who she is. She has those she lets close that she’ll go to the ends of the earth for but she doesn’t need them as a definition of herself. She’s always been able to think for herself – and tell you what she thinks – and fight for what she wants. She’ll look a grown man in the eye and tell him he’s dead wrong and not back down. She’s got a strength that comes from knowing pain and loss in her formative years. She knows the true meaning of “life is short” and doesn’t waste time on bullshit. She’s still figuring out her future but she is doing it on her terms.

As her mama I couldn’t be more proud of her. As an observer, I wish I had more of her gumption. I know she has some angels on her shoulders that will always watch over her. I can’t believe it’s been 21 years since they put her in my arms. There are days I missed too much because of work and life and illness but that’s the beauty of the second season….you reflect, you see things, and you make it better moving forward.

Tonight we’re celebrating a beautiful, smart, talented young woman turning 21!. I’m gonna drag my butt into work tomorrow and have no regrets because the smile on my baby’s face tonight is gonna be amazing! Y’all take time today to wish her a Happy Birthday!

Blessings y’all – Amy

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