Today is Grown-up Girl's 23rd birthday, and the first birthday of her life we have been apart. She lives in Pasadena, about a 2+1/2 hour drive from home, and normally she would come home, or we would go up there. She just started a job though, and Friday was her first day; she just didn't feel comfortable asking for Sunday off. Ya think?
If you've been reading me from the beginning, or have read my Cast of Characters, you'll remember that GuG is actually my niece, but that we've raised her. Hence my having a 23 year old daughter when I am soooooooo youthful looking (I wish)! We joke that the easiest thing for her to do when someone asks about her family is to just give them a flow chart. It's sort of not a joke though!
Her family situation might have been complicated, but all she knew was she had lots and lots of people that loved her.
For five years she was an only child, with 3 adults (my mom, me, my fiance/husband) pretty much delighted over her very presence 24/7. She loved the Zoo and Sea World, and as is the way with only children she pretty much got to do whatever she wanted. One of my favorite memories is how when she was about 3 she would sit at the kitchen table "writing" a grocery list. The invented spelling was priceless.
There was also the time all the potatoes disappeared from the potato keeper. Where on earth does a 5lb bag of potatoes disappear to? The storage seat of a toddler ride-on train as it turns out!
Once she wasn't an only child anymore, it was OVER! We had 3 kids in 4 years and her mother had 2 more kids in the same time period. Whether she was born a nurturer or made one, she has definitely been a GREAT big sister/cousin. She was 10 years old when she got to be in the room as my mom delivered my youngest daughter.
It's sometimes difficult for people to understand that her cousins are really her siblings and her half-siblings are really more like her cousins, but they are all lucky to have her. She is basically a big sis to 8 younger ones (between us, her mom's kids, and her dad's kids).
I alluded to her love of books in Friday's post. You could pretty much find her doing one of two things between the ages of 5 and 13.She either had her nose in a book, or she was at dance class. In fourth grade, she met Music Man. Who knew they would reconnect in their senior years?
When she was 11 she danced the part of Clara in the Nutcracker. It was her love of dance and theater that led her to attend a Performing Arts high school. She ended up finding that her true love was technical theater. She capped off her high school career by stage detecting Into The Woods. Although she no longer dances, she still has the great ballerina posture.
Even though she and Music Man went to different schools after fourth grade, they never really forgot about each other. The summer before 12th grade, Music Man, a sax player, was in China with his high school band. The band had recruited a horn player from GuG's school. While in China the horn player mentioned that she had a friend from his neighborhood and did he know _______? He had a long time ago, and asked the horn player if, when they got back to San Diego, she would ask GuG if he could call her? She did, Sure he could, He did--the rest is history, they've been together since their first date.
All that book learning played off, as she won a scholarship to Occidental College, where she majored in Chemistry and minored in Theater. Music Man also graduated from Oxy. He now has a "real" job, they live in a cozy gatehouse, and she's at community college doing some prerequisites for applying to pharmacy school.
GuG has always realized that even though she didn't have a "traditional" family, she was treasured by a lot of people.
It's really strange that she looks exactly like one of "us," much more so than she does like either of her biological parents or half-siblings. Somehow, I think the universe knew what it was doing!
As a parent, it is an untold relief when you get a child through college and into adulthood. And it is a delight when you can look at a child you raised, and think "Wow, I did something right." GuG is smart, beautiful, mature, and happy. What more could you want?
Wish we were there (or you were here)!