Twelve

It happens every mid-November. The nostalgia consumes me, and I find myself flipping through Landry's baby book to relive the weeks leading up to her birth. That was such an exciting time for our family because Landry was the first grandchild on both sides.  Like all new, naive parents, Jason and I worked diligently to prepare the nursery, our house, and our lives for her arrival. Little did we know that you can never really prepare your life for a baby.

I reached the misery mark of pregnancy, so when the contractions started in the early morning hours of her due date, I was ready, or so I thought. On November 19, 2002, at 11:11 am, I became a Mom for the first time. 

Landry Elizabeth Bailey.

Before Landry's birth, I'd lived my life in typical Amianne fashion--with an eye for detail and order--control. College, career, marriage, Masters degree, so the next logical step...motherhood. I read all the books. I made lists. Scads of them. In fact, those lists are stuffed in Landry's baby book because I knew I'd find them funny one day, and I was right. Those lists make me laugh. And cringe. I had no idea what the hell I was doing. Those lists gave me a sense of control. 

Control flies out the window when you have a baby. 

Landry's birth was a glorious experience. But then we brought her home, and it all fell apart. 

The first six weeks of Landry's life were miserable. She cried all the time. I cried all the time. It's like we both looked at each other and thought, "What are we doing? How do we do this? Who ARE you?" When she was tucked safely inside of me, we were one, but when she became her own person, separate from me, we had to work to find our rhythm. To get in sync.  We struggled to figure each other out. I kept reading books. I kept reaching out to people. Motherhood was not supposed to feel like this. I didn't feel like myself anymore. And that scared me. I felt so out-of-my-body. I felt so out-of-control. Those six weeks were some of the hardest of my life. 

And then we found our rhythm. We got in sync. Landry and me. Thank goodness. It's been that way ever since. Landry and I share a heart. One glance. One gesture. She gets me, and I get her. It's been that way for eleven years. 

Here we are. At twelve. And I'm scared to death again. I feel like a new mom. A new mom to a preteen. 

Landry is teetering on the edge of adolescence. Every good and horrible thing that comes with teenage-dom will send her over the cliff and diving down into the hormones, the mood swings, the temptation. I know this because I spend my days with teenagers. I feel myself holding on to her even more tightly these days. We guard her innocence: she doesn't have a cell phone; she has no social media accounts; the poor child hasn't read The Hunger Games or seen the movies. All that will come. Soon. But for now, I want her to be a kid for as long as possible. To not know about the Big Bad World. 

Innocence. 

But I know the shift is coming. Soon. I brace myself for it, and I see the signs. My silliness that once made her laugh now makes her look at me with that "No, Mom, Stop." look. She doesn't think my singing is awesome anymore.  I embarrass her (which only makes me do it MORE. Will she learn this?). Landry still love horses and Harry Potter and hugs, but I know one day we will wake up, and her life will be consumed with crushes and clothes and all the chaos that the teen years bring. Are we ready? Can we take this? 

I am not Landry's friend. I am her Mom. But I never want to lose her respect. 

Never. 

I wonder if we will say, "What are we doing? How do we do this? Who ARE you?" I wonder if it will be like those first six weeks all over again? When she becomes her own person, separate from me, we will have to work to find our rhythm. To get in sync. We will struggle to figure each other out. 

Again. 

I know I'm not the first Mom of a twelve year old, but this is MY first twelve year old. 

It's the beginning of the end. Or is it the beginning of the beginning? We are starting a new chapter. It feels different. This is not uncharted territory. I know this land. I love this land. Teenagers. Landry will be one. 

Soon. 

Twelve. 

Happy Twelfth Birthday, my sweet Landry. 


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