Happy Birthday. Caitlin

Today is Caitlin’s 26th birthday. It’s also my 26th anniversary of being a Mom.

From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I had no idea I was in for the adventure of a lifetime — being Caitlin’s Mom. I call her my guinea pig, as in a test guinea pig. Being a first time mom, everything was new to me. The feeding and diaper changes were easy, or so I recall, and playtime was easy, too. We had the time to learn and grow together. I must have thought I was okay at being a mom because Philip and I decided to have another baby. And then another.

Then things got tough. My cute and cuddly guinea pig was developing into her own independent self. Caitlin’s mantra was and still is, “I can do it. Let me do it.”  She could scale the kitchen cupboards like a Sherpa, showing the babysitter where to find the popcorn, the butter and the bowls, without making a misstep and tumbling to the floor. She could maneuver any freezer door to get to that coveted pound of frozen butter, then find a hiding place to devour her treasure. She always found the hidden jar of Grandma Puppies’ maraschino cherries. There was no stopping her. She was always getting into mischief.

We clashed a few times as mother and daughter. It wasn’t that Caitlin was bad. She never gave me a moment’s worry in that department. It was her stubbornness and her determination to do what she wanted and only what she wanted that caused us to clash. I attribute her determination to her type A personality. She has to lead, she’s head strong, smart, and can dig her heels and and stop the world when it suits her. Caitlin’s stint in the hospital when she broke her femur is the best example of this. Whether her determination hindered or helped her recovery, I’ll never know. But I don’t know if a weaker child could have survived the pain and the isolation.

As Caitlin gets older, I realize that perhaps the roles have reversed and that perhaps I am now the guinea pig. I wonder if Caitlin is testing me to see how long I will let her live at home before she gets the proverbial boot from the nest. I wonder if she’s waiting to find out how long it will take for me to say, “Do your own cooking.”  No mushrooms, no funny cheese, no leftovers…the list goes on. I cannot resist quoting her, “blah, blah, blah.”

I don’t know if I’ll pass the test. I enjoy her company. She gets my sense of humor. She’s always up to seeing a movie. Need company in the hot tub? She’s there. She acts as mediator when Philip and I disagree over the silliest things – mostly she-said he-said scenarios. I think Philip and I are giving her excellent training on marriage and communication. I can hear her guffaw now.

When I think of Caitlin, I think of the three P’s – Punctuality, Perfection and Participation. All three she expects of herself. She expects two of the three from everyone else. Sorry, this is late in getting posted. It’s taken me all day to get it typed. If it’s not perfect – what can I say? It’s the one and only draft. Participation? Most definitely. I’ve had twenty-six years of non-stop participation in this wonderful adventure with you and I’m looking forward to many more.

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart.

Love – Mom

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