Kristen's birthday is this week. She's daughter #2. The second daughter to turn 30.
In time, I'll forgive her.
I love this photo and not just because my grandkid's in it and she's too adorable for words with that red, curly hair. Nope. I love it because it reminds me of one of the many things I admire about Kristen.
She's a loving and nurturing mom. She's cautious, but not overly so. She cares a lot about how her kids will turn out. What's the thing to do now so they'll be in good shape later? She thinks beyond today.
I think Kristen would be surprised to know that she is one of the women I most admire.
For one thing, she is very different from me. In all good ways.
I'll stir the pot. I'll beat the dead horse. I'll jump into any fray. I'll run with scissors.
Kristen is much smarter than that. She somehow sees to the end. She knows up front what it'll cost her, how much energy will get expended, and if it's worth it. Her time is precious and she isn't gonna waste it on stupid shit.
I will. I have. I'll do it again. I admire that she won't. I often ask myself...would Kristen go there? I often ignore the answer too, and am usually sorry.
Kristen is quietly convicted. She does what she thinks is right without announcements, fanfare or drama.
She went back to school to get her master's degree when she was pregnant with her first baby.
I had my doubts.
If she had any, no one knew. And, in her typical laid back style, she got the job done. She accomplished what a lot of people don't without having a baby, a family, obligations.
She gets that life is a marathon and not a sprint so she'll forge ahead at a measured pace, eye on the finish line, no matter how distant.
She is much more together than she thinks she is. She's cool, she's steady, she's got a wicked and smart sense of humor.
When I grow up, I want to be Kristen.
This is another favorite photo of mine. And not because my crows feet have been photo shopped out (although let's not kid ourselves, it's one of the reasons). I love it because it's "daughters in stereo." And I'm reminded how lucky I am to have two, that they're really on my side, they have my back. And they are both in charge of unsightly hair removal when I'm in the home.
Kristen wasn't always my daughter. As I've blogged about before, ours is a blended family. When I met Kristen she'd just gone off to college. She was gracious, poised, and welcoming. I don't think she knows how scared I felt that day, and how thankful I was that she made it so easy for me, despite how she might've felt in those early, painful days.
We could've had an "okay" relationship. One bordering on apathy and tolerance. I can't speak for her, but I didn't set out to have any particular kind of relationship with her at all. I only knew I didn't want whatever we had to feel forced, or fake.
She means the world to her father and for that reason alone I wanted us to at least get along.
But in getting and going along, something happened. There wasn't an ah-ha moment, no lightening strike situation. Just a slow reckoning.
My heart expanded and made a place for her and there she resides like she's always been in it.
Despite good intentions, I wasn't perfect. I made mistakes.
But Kristen kept giving me chances and I kept taking them.
Another thing she probably doesn't know...my relationship with her is one of the things in my life I am most proud of...because I earned it. We earned it. It's the best kind of relationship to have - one that's chosen.
And now, when she texts me to see how I'm doing, or calls to ask, "what do you think about..." or when we have our girl talks, I get a lump in my throat. When she sends me some gloriously tacky gift, I get teary. Not because she bought me something, but because she knows who I am and what I'm about.
So, when I get asked, "How many daughters do you have?" I say two. Without thinking, without a doubt.
Like all my kids, I love her. I worry about her. I want the best for her.
And, I'm grateful. For her.