Today is Angela’s 20th birthday.
I couldn’t let the day pass without reflecting on her incredible life.
When Angela was a baby she didn’t like to be held too much. She was very matter-of-fact: feed me, change me, put me back down. She spent hours in her crib staring at her mobile or sitting in her swing in the kitchen. She was content to observe the world around her.
But she never wanted to be alone. She didn’t want to be held but the tears would come if I tried to leave the nursery. I remember laying her in the crib and sitting in the rocking chair. She would stare at me from behind the bars, holding her Wubby as she slowly drifted off to sleep. It was only then that I could quietly creep out of the room.
Through this experience, Angela taught me one of life’s greatest lessons: the importance of being in the room. It’s one of the most important things I have learned as a mother. The value of being in the stands. On the field. In the audience. So my child can search for me, lock eyes, and know that, no matter the result, I am there for her with unconditional support and love.
It’s been my great pleasure to be in the room with her these last 20 years. I’ve seen her win both Junior and Senior 4H State Horse Bowl championships and a national robotics championship. I’ve watched a disastrous cooking demonstration that ended with egg on her shirt, flour on her face, and tears cried over cookie dough. I’ve been with her in the emergency room as doctors scrambled to figure out the best way to remove a 9-inch hook wedged down her esophagus.
I’ve listened to piano recitals and organ concerts. My favorite being when she lost her place during a Schumann piece. I looked over at her instructor and saw him lift a closed eyelid (he once told me that you hear music better with closed eyes). And then he cracked a sly smile when Angela completely made up a few bars to regain her footing, never once missing a beat.
At just a smidge under 6 feet tall, Angela is frequently asked what sport she plays. She tried basketball and volleyball in grade school. She volunteered to play goalie in park-rec soccer so she wouldn’t have to run too much. But organized sports just aren’t her thing, save for snow skiing and horse back riding. Competitive but not aggressive, she pursues an athleticism of the mind.
She has a phenomenal intellect, somehow able to learn Chinese and Russian as well as Differential Equations and Music Theory. She is content to enjoy her academic successes privately, never seeking public praise. However this intelligence is balanced by a scandalous driving record, a need for roadside assistance, and a tendency to avoid leafy greens.
She’s worked at Little Caesars and Jewel, gaining valuable life experience as well as great stories for her mother’s blog. We love to watch the movie Pride and Prejudice together cuddled up on the couch. We can do 2 weeks of grocery shopping at Aldis in 30 minutes flat. She understands the absolute necessity of picking up Goldfish and a Diet Coke while on a Target run.
She loves small things – little glass figurines, mini storage boxes, doll scale novels. Her middle name is Bernadette which means strong as a bear. She certainly sleeps like one. She has a quiet strength and an angelic presence. Angela is a most loyal friend and a devoted daughter. It has been my great honor to be her mother.
A simple soul. A brilliant mind. A million dollar smile.
Happy Birthday to my gentle giant.