Seventeen means so many things to me. Seventeen has woven itself in and out of my life since the day I was born; and today, as you turn seventeen, it happens once more.
Your grandmother was Seventeen when she found herself pregnant with me and seventeen when she married your granddad and had me that August of 1973.
Seventeen years later, in 1990 on a warm August Saturday, your Dad and I got married and at seventeen, I was a wife. I cannot imagine how my mom felt letting me marry at such a young age, and I am thankful that you have your sights set on Jesus, schooling and career at this age instead of marriage. On that warm August afternoon in 1990 there were no doubts and no fears, only excitement for the future. I am sure that your dad and I could have made better choices and while there were things we both regret; you were were never one of those regrets. Three years later, on May 5th, 1993, you arrived; you were more than we had hoped for and we loved you with all we had in the best way we knew how.
Last night, like every birthday in between, we came together as a family for a birthday party that you really didn’t even want to have. We ate and laughed , had birthday cupcakes, virgin margaritas in pretty glasses and had our house full of love. It warmed my heart when afterward you told me that you were glad I had the party for you. This party, was admittedly, for me. I feel that this is the last chance to catch you in that divide between child and adult, and I wanted to revel in every second of it. If I had it to again, I would go back and even buy a piñata.
When you were a baby, I pushed you to be independent, I pushed you to be your own person and on days like today, I wish I had let you be a baby more, let you lean on me more and ride on my shoulders instead of walking on your own. Today as you are on the cusp of becoming a woman, I have been observing how you are taking charge of your life and I am proud to be your mama. I am proud of the drive you have to go after a career that will be challenging and heartbreaking on some days, I am proud that you are learning much earlier in life than I did that your words have weight and meaning, I am proud that you love Jesus more than anything else in this world and that you have a heart for the hurting around you.
Where did this crazy-faced, cake eating baby girl go who was so happy to just have a Cinderella party? Gone is this little pigtailed girl and in her place is a young woman on the brink of first loves, first heartbreaks, first kisses, first car, first college experiences. Thank you for bringing me along on this trip with you. It's amazing to be your Mom. Digging through the photos of your life tonight, I cried as I saw those moments and faces that only come in certain stages of life. I am thankful that not only do you respect me as your mom, that you love me as a friend.
Don’t ever take the stages of your life for granted. It's okay to be single, it's okay to be in love, it's okay to be whatever you want. I am grateful for every fork in the road and every decision I have made because it brought me to today. Don’t ever worry about what others think of you, plow ahead into all that life has for you; and on the sidelines, I will be here, forever cheering you on as only a mama can. I hope some of these photos bring back the good memories for you that they brought me tonight.
I love you Cait, keep Jesus and your family first and be like me in this one respect, Make every Seventeen Count!