A whole decade.
How is that even possible?!
I remember the day that Caroline was born like it happened yesterday . . . I was sooo nervous that morning when I woke up, I threw up. True story. Josh and I got to the hospital at 5 in the morning and started the induction process. It was a looooong day, but so much fun! It was like a party (especially after the epidural), friends and family coming in and out and all of us DYING TO KNOW IF that baby was Jenny Caroline or Thomas Williams. FINALLY, 12 hours later, after an hour and a half of pushing, out came the most beautiful little girl I had ever seen.
True to form, Caroline came out with drama and charm. She was loved and adored and held and passed around from mom to dad to all 4 grandparents to Uncle Keith and Aunt Linda and then, she lost it. She freaked out and her heart rate wouldn't go down. For a couple of hours, I was not allowed to hold her as she screamed in the infant bed next to me while they monitored her. My legs were still numb from the epidural, so I was stuck in my bed too, and she and I spent a good bit of time crying together. Finally, a compassionate nurse gave her back to me, and as we soothed each other, her heart rate returned to a safe range and they eventually declared her "ok".
I never knew that I could be so scared. No one prepared me for the depth of emotions that would come with that baby. It was like my very heart had left my body and was all wrapped up in that little bundle. When she hurt, I hurt. When she cried, I cried. When she smiled, my heart exploded. And when she laughed, I did too, with sheer joy. Those emotions happened every time I had a baby, but there is something unique about that first time . . . the intensity of it all is so unexpected and tangible.
10 years later, I can't believe that I've been a mom this long . . . I still feel so inadequate and amateur. I find myself stumbling through each phase of her life with the same level of trepidation and desperate prayers as those first days. Being a parent is such a faith journey . . . we plant seeds and water and water and weed and fertilize (which is funny and amazing to me that God can use my bs for her good) and we hope and pray that we are doing enough and not screwing them up. And then we wait and watch and keep praying. And we thank God for His grace to mend and use our mistakes. Thank goodness it's not really ALL up to us.
Caroline, sweet Caroline, I am overwhelmed with gratitude that I get to be your mom. I am learning so much from you. You have a kindness and a generosity of spirit that is so pure and genuine and amazing. You are truly selfless and I love to watch you care for others and wrestle with how to best help people. And you are FUN! You have a great sense of humor. You are fearless, too--are you kidding me riding the Barn Swing by yourself?! Daddy and I really enjoy seeing all your talents surface . . . you are a reader and a writer and a dancer and an athlete. You are a self-motivator and enjoy giving it your all and a little more. No one can clean and organize like you can--or have as much fun and satisfaction from it. I can't list it all, but you are gifted and you don't waste your gifts--I'm proud of you for that. You are the best big sister Tru and Bo and Sascha could have ever asked for. You are an amazing friend. And as a daughter, well, you are everything and more I could have dreamed of.
I am having a blast in this new phase--this delicate balance of mother/daughter with a little bit of friendship thrown in there too. I love watching "our shows" together and, as much as I love watching you dance, I am pretty sure that I love the excuse to escape with you several weekends a year even more. We have made some great memories!
You are beautiful on the outside, but the glow that first catches people's attention comes from the inside of you. Jesus lives in your heart and your compassion and love for others is a reflection of that.
I love you so much. I am so torn as I watch you grow up because I want to slow it down, to go back in time for a bit to those early days and weeks and months and years. At the same time, however, I could never have imagined this time of life being so fun and I look forward to all we have ahead of us. We have dreamed some fun futures together!
Happy 10th birthday, angel. You are a gift to us and to every life you touch!
I love you . . . Mommy
(Here are some pics from her big day)
12 hours ago