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  • Kristen Kehoe

Era: Twelve.

Livvy-Love turned 12 yesterday.

It was a little surreal, to be honest, like one day I am plodding along with my sweet girl who loves music and books and cartoons and dancing in her bedroom to girl-power songs, and then, without warning, I looked up and she was twelve, and even though she was the same, something was different. Maybe not just in her, but me, too.

I didn't love the baby stage. Honestly, it was chaotic and you know how I feel about that. Screaming with no reason, screaming with a reason I had no way to discern, post-partum emotions (a wild ride if there ever was one), and the constant feeling of "what the fuck am I doing?" So, while I have loved Liv every step of the way, even when she was doing that screaming-just-because bit for those six weeks around her second birthday, I have never mourned her growth or the fact that she needs me less and less for the day-to-day business of living. Yet, in the past month or so, I've wished for just one moment to go back and hold her a little extra after a nap, or take a little more time with her on a walk, saying fuck-it when she wanted to carry the largest lovey she had, rather than make her leave it in the car.

Perhaps this is what twelve years with Liv has taught me: that while she is growing, and I could not be more excited for our coffee chats and library dates and our Taylor Swift mornings while we both do our work before school starts, I also wish for just one more time to pick my sweet girl up and let her lay her head on my shoulder before bed. Just one more day when all she needed from me was a hug and an hour in the rocking chair with "Moo Baa La," and "Snuggle Puppy." And I wouldn't rush it; the snuggle, the story, the moment. I wouldn't rush any of it because I would know what I didn't twelve years ago: soon, they get too big to pick up, and you have to find a whole lot of other ways to love and support them. (Not to mention that puberty always has them smelling a little funny and feeling a little clammy...;))

The other day, I was wearing my stress on my face (super great to know that) and when I picked Liv up from basketball, she asked if I was okay and I told her I was good, just a little worried about some things. Being Liv, she said it exactly right: "I know I'm eleven, so you don't have to listen, but maybe you could remember that you don't have to do everything all of the time. Maybe, you could just trust it will happen, and things will be okay." Well, shit. Maybe I could do that. (Although 39 years of practice says otherwise...maybe I could try.)

Happiest of twelfth birthdays, Livvy-Love. You are fun and creative, a little lazy when it's Sunday morning, and a lot chatty when it's Saturday night. You love people and alone time in equal measure, fantasy novels and writing stories. You still don't like romance, but I forgive you because you like adventure, and that's its own kind of romance. You play the clarinet and the piano, and at any given moment, you love or loathe them both. You love your friends and cousins, Taylor Swift, Irish dancing and whatever sport you're playing at the moment, and your dog--even when she wakes you up at night.

Most importantly, you love life, Liv, and you remind me and daddy every day that there is nothing more important than the moment we are in. You are music and love and fun, Olivia Anne, even when you're being a little extra or a lot whiny. Love you to the moon, you big twelve-year-old.



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