In a mere two hours, you will be sixteen years old.
While you will be asleep at the moment you turn sixteen,
the hours that brought you into this world were anything but restful.
You were my first pregnancy and because of this, I remember every. little. thing.
The pulls at the side of my groin and the achiness that I felt down low during the first trimester
that had me terrified I was going to miscarry at any moment.
Feeling you move gently and the dawning realization that those shapes pressing against my belly were your elbows, knees and feet.
When Daddy would push against my skin where you were, you would aggressively push back. Even then, you were staking your claim and letting us know that you would be no shrinking violet!
I remember weeks of looking at names in the baby book,
mulling over this name and that.
It was so important to us that you have a name that you could change to fit your style.
Katherine if you were reserved in nature, Katie for a sporty girl-next-door,
Kate for a classic beauty.
With a tricky last name like ours, you needed a name you would not have to spell every time.
Little did we know there would be so many Caiteys to confuse us all!
As the last trimester came upon us, we vacillated wildly between elation and complete and utter fear.
I worried about my ability to parent a little girl.. what if you wanted to be all frilly and girly and play with dolls and Barbies? How would I relate to you then?
(Well, you did and we coped just fine. You taught me that you can be feminine and still tough as nails!)
We worried about money, we worried about not knowing what we were doing, we worried about Lamaze and a birth plan and breastfeeding.
Like they say about all good plans, some parts of ours flew directly out the window.
You held on for all you were worth and after hours upon hours upon hours of work by us both,
you came into the world by cesarean section.
I will be forever grateful that we live in a country with the medical resources to intervene and save lives.. your heart rate was dropping precipitously low.
I still cannot bear to think what would have become of us both had we lived in a poor country.
From a squalling cone head, to a wiry infant who demanded constant stimulation,
to a sociable toddler who hugged everyone in sight (including strangers!),
you have been nothing short of an adventure every step of the way.
You've taught us more about ourselves, our gifts and our limitations
than we have taught you:
You've taught us to be parents, to know what it means to love fully and openly.
We've watched you walk fearlessly into new situations and admired your courage.
I've watched you practice kindness and offer love to people who were being cruel to you (even as I advised you to do otherwise, I'm ashamed to admit) and I have then hung my head as I witness their hearts soften.
I've seen you try, fail and then try again.
I've seen your steely determination over and over again- from the toddler who would untie every single crib bumper before taking her nap
to the preschooler who stopped thumb sucking cold turkey in one night.
That determination will take you ANYWHERE that you want to go, girlie, and you can take that to the bank!
I hope we've served you well thus far.
I hope we have been a better example more often than a poor one
and I hope that you have learned from the mistakes that we've made and shared with you.
The next handful of years will be scary and exciting, just like the ones that have preceded them.
Have confidence in your abilities.
We'll be sitting right here watching you and cheering you on.
I love you.
You're the best present I've ever gotten.