Thirteen years ago, this kid ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ was born. I didn't know her. I didn't get to watch her grow up. I didn't get to enjoy her personality, or help mold it. I didn't know to pray for her, and I didn't get to care for her. I didn't get to watch as she learned to walk, or as she tied her shoes, played basketball, learned to read, graduated from grade to grade. I wasn't there to nurture her and love her when she lost her daddy, even though she was too young to remember, or to grieve for a mother she really never had. I didn't get to kiss her boo-boos, praise her for making right decisions, correct her for the wrong ones, or help her learn to read. I wasn't there to help as she worked hard to read, but faltered, wasn't there to help her understand it was OK. She had an awesome family full of love, and had all those things from that family. But it wasn't me...I missed out on all of that.
When I came to know her, I met a child who wasn't sure she wanted to love; a child who was guarded, to say the least. She was a child who regarded me with curiosity...she would look at me when I wasn't looking. She would talk to me if i spoke to her. She would not look at me when I spoke to her; she was alsmot shy. (This makes me giggle now, for I know there really isn't anything shy about her.) She was street-smart. She was the epitome of maturity, all the while, the epitome of immaturity. She was mouthy, and she ran the show. Whatever she said went. Period. As I was around longer and longer, this kid learned to trust me a bit more, and spent one of the only nights she ever spent away from home with Granny and Papa with me. And she did just fine. And then, she stayed another night, and another, and another. And each day she was with me, I held my ground, in a loving, yet firm manner, and each day, though at some point in the day I was quite sure she hated me, she would continue to hang around, to talk, and eventually, to love. I learned that when she loves, she loves unabashedly, wholeheartedly. There's not really a lot of middle ground there; she is pretty much just like me. We've both done a lot of growing, a lot of maturing, and a lot of loving over the last year or so, and we've both decided that even though it's a lot of work for both of us, the relationship we have is equal to none, and therefore is worth the work. There's nothing I've ever loved more than being a mother, and there's nothing that she wouldn't have given to have one. (We know that now.) We went from a few random nights here and there to a full-time home for her here with us, and grandparents who get to enjoy being her grandparents instead of her parents AND grandparents. We have our rough spots, sure. Who doesn't? But over all, our days are not a lot of work, and mostly fun. We cook. We clean. We talk. We giggle. We laugh. We create. We love. We hug. That's a big one; this deer-in-the-headlights girl now will come and pile up in my lap, arms and legs hanging everywhere. We do homework, we celebrate over good grades, and we've learned that it's less work to do the work than it is not to. We've learned that sometimes, the most broken of us, with a bit of nurturing, can be the wholest. (That is a word. I said so.)
I may have missed the first 12 years....but I'm thankful that it is *only* 12 years that I missed. I still get to see so many things...basketball games, growing, learning, relationships, fun times, personality, banquets, prom, graduation. I could go on and on....she has given me so many gifts I couldn't begin to count them, and I look forward to that many more. I am blessed to be able to say that she is my daughter, and I am her mother.