This birthday was twenty years in the making. The making of twenty years in a special life can be at once exhausting and exhilarating, sad and joyful, frustrating and rewarding. I lean to the latter of each descriptor.
Not that I haven't had my moments. Yes. I have.
But the joy and the sunshine ... no one can experience it quite the way I do. You have your own joy, your own sunshine, your own special lives within your own. But you cannot experience mine just the way I do.
And so I try to share with you the ups, the downs, the all-arounds of Emily's special life and my life, which is so much brighter and special because of her.
She arrived here as planned with unexpected accessories ... requiring a rather large suitcase with many compartments for the purpose of putting things 'where they belong' and a whole heck of a lot of muscle. Anyone who has ever tried to change what God has given had better understand that there is no suitcase large enough to put things where they belong.
Because the perception of things belonging or not is as individual as the babies born ... of the adults they become.
I've spent many years worrying myself sick over school, friends, abilities. Who wouldn't? Who couldn't?
In fact, if I were to tell a new parent of a special child one thing, it would be: Do not worry. It will all work out. Honest. Somehow, from somewhere, the strength comes.
But the worry doesn't need to come. It only causes wrinkles in your belly, anyway.
The anticipation for this twentieth birthday began 365 days ago. December 3, 2007. The day after her nineteenth birthday. She woke to say, "Mom! Guess What!" What Emily? "I'm going to be twenty my next birthday! Eeee!" Oh, yes, you are. But how about if you just enjoy being nineteen for a while? It's the same conversation she and I have held every year since she learned to count and anticipate.
:::sigh::: I try to explain it this way ... a birthday is something to look forward to. She cannot drive herself anywhere. She cannot invite a friend over or go to a friend's whenever she chooses. She can't just go to the mall. She is at the mercy of her family for transportation and her social life -- she has no control over any of it.
Ah. But her birthday. She can think about it, plan it, dream on it, wish on it, love it, live it ... three hundred and sixty-five days of the year. I applaud her tenacity. I applaud her ability to keep the faith and know that it will arrive. That birthday of hers.
This morning I went to wake her with camera in hand. Sleeping the sleep of the very tired because I had her out late at the gym last night, she eventually rolled over and woke with a big smile on her face.
Happy Birthday Emily! "Yep! It's my birthday!" "I'm twenty!!" "eeeee!!!!"
A trip to the hair salon after school for a much needed trim and,
"Red, Mom." Okay Emily, red it is.
She & C choose the color. Mind you, Emily has had blond, pink, light red, frosted and blond hair. Just wait 'til you see the red she chose!
While the color is processing, a little eye brow touch up with J.
The finished 'do'. (and she's had enough of my photo taking)
Home for dinner and cake with ice cream!
Saying thanks to Sis with a hug.
A quiet birthday doing the activities that Emily loves ... a hair appointment, dinner with her cousins here, cake and ice cream.
Simple, but happy.