february 17, 2011


Today is our daughter’s 17th birthday.  As I post this, I am looking at the clock.  This time, seventeen years ago, I was getting ready to push and completely ignoring all of those crazy breathing exercises that you learn in Lamaze class.  By this time, I had been in labor for the better part of the day.  I had caved in early on, and requested an epidural…hell…I’m not proud.  The baby was gonna come out…that was natural enough!  My labor had slowed way down, thanks to the medication, and the day nurse was pretty disgusted that she’d spent the whole day with me, and was going to miss the actual birth.

Isabel was born with the most ridiculous head of hair you’ve ever seen on a baby.  It was wispy, and feathery, and stuck straight up, like a baby orangutan.  It stayed that way, despite every effort to make it relax and lay flat for the next two and a half years.  Today, she’s got this head of thick, straight hair, with blond highlights.  She can get up in the morning, run a comb through it and go…no fuss, no muss.  It’s the kind of hair that women spend hundreds of dollars a year trying to acquire.  She just grows it right out of her head that way.

She’s always been a tomboy, much to my mother’s dismay.  After giving up hope that I was ever going to be “girly,” my mother turned her focus on Isabel.  Instead of a girl who was interested in all things pink, any sort of doll or sparkly things, we got a street-smart, tough, modest kid that would rather play soccer and watch “Cops.”  Izzy never took any crap from other kids.  She notoriously punched a kid in the nose after he had spent the better part of a recess taunting her about some stupid thing or another.  It was the boy’s birthday, and Isabel uttered what can only be described as a movie-worthy quote with the punch, “Happy Birthday, Asshole!”  We know this because several teachers witnessed the incident, and took great pleasure in telling me that, though inappropriate, washas become the stuff of legend in the teacher’s lounge.  They reluctantly turned her over to the principal, where she was suspended for a day.  Yeah, yeah.  Violence is never the answer, but I have to admit, I took great pride in Izzy’s new nickname, Dirty Harriet.

She plays Halo online, and if she put her mind to it, she could be the Queen of the Nerds.  As she blasts away, she listens through an X-box headset.  When all of the teenage boys discover that she’s online, they spend more time trying to get her to talk to them, than actually playing.  Isabel never says a word…she just racks up kills and moves on through the maps.

Isabel has set her sights on becoming an ER nurse.  She’s amazingly cool under pressure, and will be phenomonal.  She’s part-way through her junior year, and is taking classes to prepare for a medical track.  By the end of this year, she will become certified to be a phlebotemist.  Yes…we have to volunteer for blood draws.  The only thing that could present a hurdle for Izzy is her need for sleep.  This is the kid that has voluntarily gone to bed at 8:00 every night, her whole life.  Her favorite thing is sleep; and, she needs more than the average teenager.  I’m not sure how she’ll make it through as an intern or the early days of round the clock rotations.

For her birthday, we got her first set of scrubs, in her favorite color, purple.  She just came in to model them, and the grin on her face was priceless.

I can’t believe that I have a 17 year old.  I certainly don’t feel old enough to be the mother of teenagers.  I love this girl with a ferocity that is unmatched by any other emotion that I have felt…unless it’s compared to how I feel about her brother.

I am a lucky woman.  My daughter has never given me a sleepless night.  She doesn’t dress like a Jersey-Shore wannabe, and she is suddenly realizing that some of the immature antics of her peers are not fun anymore.  Another nickname is Dr. Phyllis.  She’s the one that all of her friends go to for advice, or tell all.  It’s always amazing to me that she is the one giving advice; but, then, she does spend a lot of time during the summer watching cable.

We have our normal mother-daughter arguments.  My husband and son tread lightly during “Shark Week.”   When we turn on each other, it’s a sight to behold.  The boys know that the air will eventually clear, and Isabel & I will be curled up on the couch, giggling over some stupid movie or “Office” rerun.

I am so blessed to be the mother of this amazing young woman.  She makes me proud every day, although she insists that her brother is the favorite.  Silly girl.  She will find out someday that it doesn’t work that way.  The day that her brother was born, she wasn’t replaced…my heart just grew.

Happy birthday, Squish.  You are the light in my life, and I am so proud to be your mom.  I love you!