13 years

13 years

Today, my first born baby is celebrating a milestone birthday. She is turning 13.

Last night amidst the normal routine of piano practice, homework, dinner and more homework I was compelled to capture her last evening of 12.  I know she has been waiting for this day forever (being the youngest in her class gives her good reason to be eager) and yet, I could also sense her hesitation. She is beginning a new chapter, as a teenager now and with that comes all the stuff that we’ve always heard about teenagers (which isn’t all that complimentary, in case you hadn’t noticed). I think with the new found status, change is inevitable, and so comes fear. For both of us.

What will this mean? What is different now? I guess the answer is simple. Nothing and everything.

This morning we all awoke to the sleepy, yet excited exclamations, birthday wishes, and back and forth between us all. I said to my youngest daughter, “We have a teenager in the house now” and before I oculd even finish my thought, the birthday girl chimed in from the other room, “I’m still the same person!” with an urgency in her voice.

I get it. The fear of uncertainty. The mixed emotions about the great unknown. The joy. the anticipation. The worry. The celebration. And so it goes, on and on into forever.

Like with most milestones, this one is bittersweet. I feel that familiar push and pull of motherhood that constantly asks us to love and let go. Love and let go. Love and let go. Although it’s a daily experience, we are so busy living, we don’t always notice it. That is, until they take their first steps, start Kindergarten, turn 13…

It is such a honor and a privledge to be given this gift and yet, with each tug of letting go, our hearts break a little bit. Even when you’ve felt it before and know it’s coming, it still hurts.

I sit here at my laptop eyes wet from crying mama milestone tears. I look back at birthdays past; of photos and stories and memories of my baby being born to now and every minute in between and I can’t stop crying.  Thirteen years of loving and letting go streaming down my face like some kind of salty Holy water, soothing my heart, cracks and all.

This is motherhood. This is life. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Happy Birthday my precious child. May you continue to grow up knowing that my love for you knows no bounds and will be with you always.

49 Comments
  • myriam
    Posted at 00:13h, 20 November Reply

    Ii'm weepy too. She's right though she's still the same little chicken wing I love so much

  • Shannon
    Posted at 00:21h, 20 November Reply

    I am so moved by this. My daughter turned 16 this past summer and I was happy and heartbroken at the same time. In a year and a half she'll be in college. Being a mother to a teenager is the single most challenging and rewarding thing in my life. Thank you for sharing your story. They grow up so fast that sometimes you want to freeze time. Capturing the moments the way you do is absolutely brilliant.
    Blessings, Shannon
    http://www.thumbinmyway.com

  • Gina
    Posted at 00:30h, 20 November Reply

    Your daughter is beautiful! I just found your blog through the blog "Diane's Everyday Moments", so I don't know if you already mentioned it, but… Has your daughter modeled or will she ever model? She really should consider it if she has not (and assuming you approve, of course!).

    I understand you and her both being hesitant of the upcoming teen years. The teen years are really hard on a girl and I am guessing very hard for the parents too. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I am sure with you two obviously close it will not be as hard on you as it can be on some, but in any case I do get it.

    I love your work!

  • darrah parker
    Posted at 00:39h, 20 November Reply

    This is so touching, Tracey. I'm not even a mother yet (I hope to be some day), but I can already feel that tug of them growing up fast. Cherish this beautiful, complicated time.

    Oh, and holy moly. That's a beautiful photo.

  • Lindsey (aka modchik)
    Posted at 00:53h, 20 November Reply

    Tracey that is a beautiful capture, I love it I have the same lines that spread across my forehead (of course hers are infinitely softer than mine, bless that beautiful young skin) she's looking at you just the way mine does with such wonderment. Lucky you.

  • Lindsey (aka modchik)
    Posted at 00:53h, 20 November Reply

    Tracey that is a beautiful capture, I love it I have the same lines that spread across my forehead (of course hers are infinitely softer than mine, bless that beautiful young skin) she's looking at you just the way mine does with such wonderment. Lucky you.

  • AndMilesToGo
    Posted at 01:02h, 20 November Reply

    your words are beautiful. Happy Birthday to your daughter. My oldest turned 16 this year and it was the hardest birthday yet.

  • AndMilesToGo
    Posted at 01:02h, 20 November Reply

    your words are beautiful. Happy Birthday to your daughter. My oldest turned 16 this year and it was the hardest birthday yet.

  • sweetsalty kate
    Posted at 01:27h, 20 November Reply

    Gasp…. blink. Just like that. xo

  • sweetsalty kate
    Posted at 01:27h, 20 November Reply

    Gasp…. blink. Just like that. xo

  • lifeineden {amy}
    Posted at 01:29h, 20 November Reply

    beautifully put Tracey. may your cracked heart heal quickly (before it is time to crack again).

    I can't imagine. 13 is a decade away for my little girl, but I know it will be here too soon.

    Happy Birthday big girl, and hugs to your proud mama.

  • lifeineden {amy}
    Posted at 01:29h, 20 November Reply

    beautifully put Tracey. may your cracked heart heal quickly (before it is time to crack again).

    I can't imagine. 13 is a decade away for my little girl, but I know it will be here too soon.

    Happy Birthday big girl, and hugs to your proud mama.

  • Linda Binder
    Posted at 02:08h, 20 November Reply

    I am so with you. I am the mother of a 15 year old boy. I always say I'm glad he's not a girl, but he definitely has his moments. He is my only child and up until this June, I've been a full time working mother. Which I always had the working mother, only child guilt. Being unemployed now, I get to be around him more (something I never had before), so I get weepy alot lately watching him grow up and changing right in front of me and all the teenage angst and attitude that goes along with it. There are many times I miss by baby boy, but then feel so proud of him and how he is maturing. I know I will either find a new job or get called back to my old one (school district), but am thankful to have had this time home with him.

    Happy birthday to your beautiful daughter. To be 13 again. Enjoy.

  • Linda Binder
    Posted at 02:08h, 20 November Reply

    I am so with you. I am the mother of a 15 year old boy. I always say I'm glad he's not a girl, but he definitely has his moments. He is my only child and up until this June, I've been a full time working mother. Which I always had the working mother, only child guilt. Being unemployed now, I get to be around him more (something I never had before), so I get weepy alot lately watching him grow up and changing right in front of me and all the teenage angst and attitude that goes along with it. There are many times I miss by baby boy, but then feel so proud of him and how he is maturing. I know I will either find a new job or get called back to my old one (school district), but am thankful to have had this time home with him.

    Happy birthday to your beautiful daughter. To be 13 again. Enjoy.

  • Gabi
    Posted at 02:35h, 20 November Reply

    Happy Birthday to your beautiful daughter, Tracy!

  • Gabi
    Posted at 02:35h, 20 November Reply

    Happy Birthday to your beautiful daughter, Tracy!

  • ELK
    Posted at 04:51h, 20 November Reply

    i am holding these words [and you]close .. thinking of your journey with excitement .. and that is what it is ..a journey for you both..I have a feeling that it will be an adventure, I know it was with my two daughters and I. blessings on this very tender milestone ELK

  • ELK
    Posted at 04:51h, 20 November Reply

    i am holding these words [and you]close .. thinking of your journey with excitement .. and that is what it is ..a journey for you both..I have a feeling that it will be an adventure, I know it was with my two daughters and I. blessings on this very tender milestone ELK

  • Aimee Giese | Greeblemonkey
    Posted at 05:00h, 20 November Reply

    13. wow.

    P.S. You all are so awesome.

  • Aimee Giese | Greeblemonkey
    Posted at 05:00h, 20 November Reply

    13. wow.

    P.S. You all are so awesome.

  • Deirdre (superdewa)
    Posted at 05:26h, 20 November Reply

    Happy Birthday to your daughter! She is lovely. I love your words and I can relate to them. I get very emotional around birthdays, and 13 is a big change!

  • Deirdre (superdewa)
    Posted at 05:26h, 20 November Reply

    Happy Birthday to your daughter! She is lovely. I love your words and I can relate to them. I get very emotional around birthdays, and 13 is a big change!

  • megan
    Posted at 05:34h, 20 November Reply

    lovely, tracey. hope it is a fabulous celebration for all of you:).

  • megan
    Posted at 05:34h, 20 November Reply

    lovely, tracey. hope it is a fabulous celebration for all of you:).

  • Deane Silke
    Posted at 07:22h, 20 November Reply

    Your little girl is growing up so fast, but she is such a sweetie and good hearted soul!!
    You should be grateful she's so good…God forbid she was doing the things I was doing at age 13…LORD NO!!

  • Deane Silke
    Posted at 07:22h, 20 November Reply

    Your little girl is growing up so fast, but she is such a sweetie and good hearted soul!!
    You should be grateful she's so good…God forbid she was doing the things I was doing at age 13…LORD NO!!

  • diane herman
    Posted at 10:25h, 20 November Reply

    absolutely nothing could be traded for motherhood:)

  • diane herman
    Posted at 10:25h, 20 November Reply

    absolutely nothing could be traded for motherhood:)

  • Mary Ann
    Posted at 12:09h, 20 November Reply

    Please congratulate your daughter on moving in to her teens–we share the same birth date, although I am moving to 47, not 13 ๐Ÿ™‚ I do, however, remember that day and the challenges that followed. But it all works out. Happy birthday and many more!

  • Mary Ann
    Posted at 12:09h, 20 November Reply

    Please congratulate your daughter on moving in to her teens–we share the same birth date, although I am moving to 47, not 13 ๐Ÿ™‚ I do, however, remember that day and the challenges that followed. But it all works out. Happy birthday and many more!

  • melissa
    Posted at 12:44h, 20 November Reply

    happy birthday to your daughter. happy mother's day to you. and yes, love and let go and cry. and feel the wild gratitude for the soulful journey. may you celebrate and be celebrated this weekend.

  • melissa
    Posted at 12:44h, 20 November Reply

    happy birthday to your daughter. happy mother's day to you. and yes, love and let go and cry. and feel the wild gratitude for the soulful journey. may you celebrate and be celebrated this weekend.

  • sizzle
    Posted at 15:33h, 20 November Reply

    I got a little teary too. The whole idea of loving and letting go. Such a beautiful gift. Such a beautiful post.

    Happy birthday to her!

  • sizzle
    Posted at 15:33h, 20 November Reply

    I got a little teary too. The whole idea of loving and letting go. Such a beautiful gift. Such a beautiful post.

    Happy birthday to her!

  • Whitney
    Posted at 17:45h, 20 November Reply

    She is so beautiful – hate to say it since you're already feeling weepy – but she looks even older than 13. Gorgeous. It is obvious you have a very special relationship. Beautiful post.

  • Whitney
    Posted at 17:45h, 20 November Reply

    She is so beautiful – hate to say it since you're already feeling weepy – but she looks even older than 13. Gorgeous. It is obvious you have a very special relationship. Beautiful post.

  • Phyllis
    Posted at 21:06h, 21 November Reply

    What a beautiful photo of your daughter! As my children have grown, I realized I was cheering them on as they grew and moved to independance – what a privilege, even with the tears along the way. Continue to enjoy this wonderful journey of motherhood!

  • Phyllis
    Posted at 21:06h, 21 November Reply

    What a beautiful photo of your daughter! As my children have grown, I realized I was cheering them on as they grew and moved to independance – what a privilege, even with the tears along the way. Continue to enjoy this wonderful journey of motherhood!

  • Cara
    Posted at 02:56h, 22 November Reply

    Please tell her Happy Birthday and many more. I am overwhelmed with the thought of my child going to kindergarten next year I can only imaging the sea of emotion that 13 brings. I swear that my child does something everyday that make me swell with the love of being his mother, meeting those milestones make me just burst!

  • Cara
    Posted at 02:56h, 22 November Reply

    Please tell her Happy Birthday and many more. I am overwhelmed with the thought of my child going to kindergarten next year I can only imaging the sea of emotion that 13 brings. I swear that my child does something everyday that make me swell with the love of being his mother, meeting those milestones make me just burst!

  • melody
    Posted at 21:49h, 23 November Reply

    So beautifully written that this made me weepy for the years to come… for the more loving and letting go of each year with my own daughters. Love your blog and love your photos!

  • melody
    Posted at 21:49h, 23 November Reply

    So beautifully written that this made me weepy for the years to come… for the more loving and letting go of each year with my own daughters. Love your blog and love your photos!

  • Sandra
    Posted at 23:08h, 23 November Reply

    Beautifully written! I'm getting choked up thinking about my little ones and how quickly they are growing up.

  • Sandra
    Posted at 23:08h, 23 November Reply

    Beautifully written! I'm getting choked up thinking about my little ones and how quickly they are growing up.

  • Tracy
    Posted at 00:48h, 24 November Reply

    So beautifully put. I am in a puddle …
    Some of your words rang loud and true for me right now. I have been looking for words to go along with all this emotion I'm feeling about my boy turned nine – a milestone in our world… it feels joyful and hard, in back to back intervals. Loving and letting go. I had never heard it like that, and it really is…. just like that.
    Thank you ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Tracy
    Posted at 00:48h, 24 November Reply

    So beautifully put. I am in a puddle …
    Some of your words rang loud and true for me right now. I have been looking for words to go along with all this emotion I'm feeling about my boy turned nine – a milestone in our world… it feels joyful and hard, in back to back intervals. Loving and letting go. I had never heard it like that, and it really is…. just like that.
    Thank you ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • kristal
    Posted at 11:35h, 24 November Reply

    I really love this post. In the next 2 weeks, my girls will be 10 and 13. I am feeling so sentimental, emotional, nostalgic right now. Being a mother is all I really knew that I wanted to be FOR CERTAIN when I was growing up. I didn't know what I wanted to do for a living. I didn't know whether or not I wanted to get married. But I KNEW that I wanted to be a mother. I feel so blessed to be a Mom to my 2 lovelies. The LOVE & LET GO part is a toughie, isn't it?

    Happy Birthday to your daughter! And thank you for sharing your thoughts. I feel much the same. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Lindsay @ Not2Us.net
    Posted at 16:33h, 29 November Reply

    She is really, really gorgeous. ๐Ÿ™‚ Congrats on making it to teenage-hood! I wish you all the best as you journey down this new path. I'm sure you'll both make it through just fine!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Lindsay @ Not2Us.net
    Posted at 16:33h, 29 November Reply

    She is really, really gorgeous. ๐Ÿ™‚ Congrats on making it to teenage-hood! I wish you all the best as you journey down this new path. I'm sure you'll both make it through just fine!! ๐Ÿ™‚

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