Friday, July 1, 2011

Feliz cumpleaños a tí!

I have accidentally started a tradition of writing birthday blogs. The first one I wrote was for my Baby Sister, back in February. Then, several weeks ago I wrote another one for my youngest daughter, Yoga Kid. We have four children, but I suspect that both of my wonderful stepsons would be horrified if I blogged about either of them (perhaps not, I'll have to check before their birthdays).

I should have know that First Born would not only expect, but demand a birthday blog. Indeed, within moments of reading Yoga Kid's birthday post back in June, First Born sent me the following email:

That's so nice! You'd best start typing mine up mom!!! Ooohhh you must use my cutest pictures with my big bangs and my curls with the pink background!!!

First Born loves it when anyone tells stories about when she was younger. Sadly, she would kill me if I shared some of her best stories here. Still, she has spent a fair part of June getting excited about her birthday, and about me writing her a birthday blog. She's turning 30, so I can understand her excitement.

On June 16th she sent me an email that said:

Tell me again about the day I was born.........

To which I replied:

Well, there I was, swearing like a sailor with Nannie telling me there was no need for "such language," and all of a sudden you just flew...

To which she further replied:

Thanks for using your discretion and not finishing that sentence.

Today is her birthday. This still-precocious daughter of ours is celebrating her important milestone in the Mayan Riviera and won't even be home for a few days yet, so I figured I had at least until later tonight to get her birthday blog finished and posted. She doesn't have internet at the resort, so I didn't sense any urgency. I was wrong. Last night, at 9:21 pm she sent me a text that included the following message:

Thanks for having me!! Is my blog online yet???

You are nothing if not persistent, my darling girl.

So, how do I even begin to tell you about how you have enriched my life this past thirty years. Your birth changed my life as surely as getting pregnant with you saved my life. You didn't only turn me into a mom, you gave me a reason to grow up and become a woman. I was a young (and rather messed up) twenty year old when I got pregnant. I was only twenty-one when you were born, but I was old enough to know that you were the best thing that had happened in my life up to that point. Funnily enough, although I think I usually claim that you were born at about 9:15, an entry from a journal that I dug up today provides some clarification around timing. (And no, you can't read the whole journal. Not until I am dead.)

July 1, 1981
Well, precious, at 9:00 am this morning you were born! I love you madly already, but I'm not in any particular hurry to furnish you with a brother or sister! So many women call childbirth "the most beautiful experience." Having you here is the most wonderful thing in my life, but getting you out here was not! I can't decide on a name for you as yet, I want it to be perfect, as you are. My mom was right there when you were born, which meant a lot to me.

It would appear that I remained quite fond of you for at least the next several days. Here's some evidence:

July 3, 1981
Well sweetheart, I still can't believe you're here and mine! We get along very well so far, you're such a good baby. All the nurses say how pretty you are, I think you're gorgeous. I looked at all the babies in the nursery last night, and you are the cutest! I'm sure any judge would agree. I love you.

July 6, 1981
I guess this journal won't have daily entries the way you keep me hopping! It's pretty hard to schedule your feedings, you're always eager to eat! Your grandmother thinks you're getting fat, I shouldn't wonder! I'm finding it hard to believe how much I love you already, I hate not holding you even for a minute.

Well, First Born. The weeks and then months passed, but my arms continued to feel empty unless I was holding you.

You kept eating and growing and eventually you got heavy enough that I did have to put you down. Back in the day, we had these things called "walkers." They are outlawed now, but my how I loved that I had one to put you in when you were tiny.

You were no doubt mimicking your grandfather in the photo above. Pop always blew "raspberries" (see lips above) at his grandchildren for the first two years of their lives. He didn't talk to any of you during your early years, he just made funny sounds at you. Even at just a few months old, your grandmother insisted that you were "full of beans." If she was still alive, she'd smile to know that you still are.

Even at such a tender age, you were very social and loved to be surrounded by your people.

I believe that these are the pictures that you referred to when you told me that I had to write you a birthday blog. You look so angelic. It's not clear at all from these pictures that at this time in your young life you turned into a complete monster shortly after twilight, as soon as it was time for you to go to bed.

The years passed, and your impish grin continued to melt the hearts of those of us who loved and lived for you. It still does.

By nine years old, you were convinced that you had been put on this earth to love The New Kids on the Block (NKOTB). From your school journal:

November 5, 1990
The New Kids concert was the best time of my life.

November 22, 1990
Since I went to the NKOTB concert and my mom has been lending me money I don't get allowance until 1993. So this weekend when I go to my Dad's I have to scrub the floor so maybe I can get about twenty bucks so I can go to Fantasyland with Kathleen. I can't write anymore or I will wear out my scrubbing hands.

Funny isn't it, how you and Yoga Kid still like to kid and ask me for twenty bucks? Alas, even the most angelic little rose buds turn into teenagers. For some reason, at age 12 you thought that you were actually allowed to start becoming your own person. The power struggle between you and I started shortly after I let you get holes in your ears. 

Our family has a tradition. When girls in our family turn fifteen, we lose our minds. Oddly enough, out of all of us, your rebellion was the mildest. Not to say that you couldn't throw the odd teenage tantrum, or worry me silly once in while or on the odd New Year's Eve. And man, did you perfect the art of sulking. Case in point, this picture from when we dragged you away from all of your friends and forced you to spend the summer in the Yukon while I worked on my Masters Thesis. You were not the least impressed with the splendour of the Land of the Midnight Sun.

One of your first serious acts of rebellion was to skip school in Grade 9, or was it 10? You were in very big trouble, and you knew it. I doubt that your creative ploy worked at keeping you out of the doghouse, but as I recall, the hand-crafted apology made me laugh.

The inside of the card read:

Mommy, please don't ground me. Just spank me and take away my oxygen. Love, your school attending daughter. xoxoxoxoxo

We grounded you anyway.

Of course, luckily for us, the crazy teenage girls in our family do eventually grow up and start becoming lovely people. You graduated high school, and soon after started attending the weddings of your peers. When I saw you walk down the aisle the first time you were a bridesmaid, my heart stopped beating. You were absolutely stunning.

Well the years have flown, sweet daughter of mine. If I had time to write a book series as long as The Babysitters' Club (your favourite at one time), I couldn't put into words what having you in my life has meant to me.

Ten quick things I love about you:

1.  You are a loyal, loving, daughter, sister and friend.
2.  You are an amazing cook, something that you definitely didn't get from me.
3.  You have the most impressive collection of chick lit of anybody I have ever known.
4.  Despite the not-so-high math marks in high school, you have a very successful career in finance.
5.  You love your own company, and for good reason. You are great company.
6.  You don't care much for hugging. But you're generally happy to shake hands. (I hug you anyway)
7.  The worst time of your life was when your first love died.
8.  You are brave and resilient enough to have fallen in love again.
9.  Soul Mate loves to tease you about your feet. Not saying why.
10. You are the easiest person in the world to make happy. Always have been.

I can't believe that you are thirty years old. I still want so much for you, and I know you will have everything that you dream about having in this life. I love that you are in Mexico with your boyfriend celebrating this important birthday. I guess that you won't get to read this blog until you are on a plane or in an airport heading home on Sunday. I hope you like it. I figure you might even cry a little, maybe have a laugh or two as you remember. You will look at the beautiful pictures of yourself and just as I did, I hope you can see how throughout your entire life, you have always been the same warm, funny and wonderful person. A gorgeous girl, from birth until now. Outside, and in.

I love you madly, and I always have. Right from the moment that you flew out of my loins.

Whoops. Did I say that? (No wonder you won't let me be your friend on Facebook.)

Happy birthday, Ashley.



  1. Sweet, my daughter will be 26 in October and she gets better every year, too.

  2. We are so fortunate, aren't we Lynda?

  3. My daughter is turning 23 next week. Daughters are a gift. Happy Birthday First Born! I was First Born too and am just as persistent. Love.