Anika’s 14th Birthday

This weekend was Anika’s birthday. Ben was trying to put words to the significance of the occasion, and said, “You’re the only 14 year old daughter I’ve ever had!”

Anika responded dryly with, “I’m the only 14 year old daughter you’ve ever had.”

Ben replied, “All the others only reached their 13th birthday…”

Not his best joke, but he always tries.

We’re delighted to have a 14 year old. I’d have to say our first year with a teenager has gone very well.:) There have been some bumps along the way, but looking back, I can see how those were the times when Anika’s growth and maturity really developed and came through, and I love seeing the person she is becoming.

Life is such a weird thing – how can I not remember what life was like without her, and yet so clearly remember the first day we brought her home from the hospital?! I can still feel the panic inside when Ben put Anika’s car seat down inside the door of our little house, and went to get something from the car, leaving me standing there, wondering what in the world we were going to do now. We were responsible for A BABY, and for the moment, she was quiet, but we didn’t have a clue what we were doing! It all seemed very strange and overwhelming, and a little bit scary, but I loved her fiercely. I got nothing done for weeks – I just watched her sleep and cried over how beautiful she was!

Slowly, we figured things out, and everything was okay because she was our baby – we knew her, and she belonged, and we figured out what she needed and liked, and her little personality began to show in all kinds of delightful ways.

For years, we’d hear other parents talking about the teenage years with dread, and I felt a little uneasy about it, but mostly I blocked it out, thinking we’d deal with it when it was time.

We’re only one year in, but I’m already glad for all the time I didn’t spend worrying about it, because it’s not unlike the feelings I had when we were first learning to be parents: we don’t have all the answers, but she’s our teenager – we know her, she belongs, we’re figuring things out as we go along, and the person she’s becoming is showing through in all kinds of delightful ways.

She’s smart, creative, imaginative, wise, motivated, strong, self-aware, capable, discerning, level-headed, funny, and determined. This was the year she started setting her alarm early in the morning, so that she can finish her schoolwork in the morning, and spend the rest of her day writing. She’s pumping out books at a rate which makes me jealous, and dreams big dreams about all she will do with her future.

She always amazes me with her ability to cut right to the root of a problem and determine the solution. I will forever love our long talks, and this last year she was finally able to graduate to the passenger seat for our drives to the city. She spends most of the time drilling me with questions about Myers Briggs, and wants to figure out everyone’s personality types, in real life as well as all the characters in her books. The rest of the time, we talk about boys.;)

14 years of loving her. I’m so glad we get to celebrate our Anika!

photo credit: Morgan Braun

 

 

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We Have a Teenager in the House!

When Anika was a little girl, we had friends who often talked about how scared they were to have teenagers someday. It made me feel nervous, so I tried to block it from my mind.

AnikaA few years later, we met a couple who had two teenage boys, and they said, “The teenage years are so much fun! They’re our favorite – we LOVE having teenagers!” I decided to listen to them.

I have no idea how these teenage years will go – I know there’s a lot of big challenges and issues that can come up, but I’m realizing a couple of things:

  1. When we look too far ahead, it looks scary and unknown. When Anika was two, thinking of her being a teenager was quite overwhelming. But now that we’re here, it feels right and good, and I delight in seeing the person she is becoming. Let’s take things as they come.
  2. Because I love her, I also love her as a teenager. She’s not some random kid – she’s my kid. Before she was born, I was worried because I’ve never been completely comfortable with newborn babies. I’m never the one at baby showers who’s desperate to hold the new baby. I kinda used to wish they’d come out three months old. But even though I don’t love random newborn babies, I fiercely loved our newborn babies. And I will fiercely love our teenagers.
  3. We can always choose life-giving words. If we say, “The teenage years will be TERRIBLE!”, there’s a good chance we’ll be right. If we say, “The teenage years are going to be AWESOME!”, there’s a good chance we’ll be right! Becoming an adult can just be hard – there are a lot of tough adjustments to make, but there’s also a lot of exciting things to look forward to. Today, I’m choosing to celebrate where Anika is at, and all the good things to come.
  4. She was made to do this. Whenever it feels as though my kids are growing up too fast, I have to remind myself this is God’s plan. He created all of us to grow up and become adults. I have to believe that His plan is right and good and perfect, and that He has given me just enough time with my kids to do what He’s asked me to do. He had a great idea when He made Anika, and she will be an amazing adult. I will love being her mom then, just as I love it now. It will be different, but it’s meant to be.

I believe all these things, but hey, we’re only two days in!;) You’re welcome to check in with me in a few years to see how it’s going!

Anika & meSticking with tradition around here, we take a moment to record “birthday favorites” – what Anika is enjoying right now. She’s loving fried potatoes, mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, and sliced/baked in butter potatoes. She is also very passionate about sushi, Cat Warriors or Christy Miller books, and sleepovers with friends. She loves writing her own books, babysitting, attending the youth group at our church, finally being allowed to sit in the front seat when we drive somewhere, and having her own bedroom and bathroom in our newly finished basement.

siblingsShe is a loving, conscientious big sister, and she is incredibly helpful with babysitting or doing work around the house. I love our one-on-one talks early in the morning before anyone else is awake, or curled up in her bed at night. She’s wearing my clothes, and it won’t be long before I look her straight in the eye. She’s growing up! My favorite teenager ever.

Anikaphoto credit: Morgan Braun

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