Thursday, March 1, 2018

A New Frontier

When I first held Abby, nearly a week after she'd been born, I could hardly see past the next few hours, let alone envision what our lives would look like down the road. Hormones, middle school, the teen years, high school?....Those seemed miles and miles down a road we'd just begun.

Our focus became getting her to breathe on her own. Step. Next came the task of building her endurance to drink three ounces without falling asleep. Step. A wireless baby? Yes, I'll take it! Step. Finally, she weighed over 5 pounds, which meant we could take her home. Step.

There have been so many baby steps along this road, that I've failed to see how very far we've come. I feel as though at some point Abby, started running, and I have yet to catch up. And so here I sit, wondering how it is even possible for that tiny baby I held so long ago to be a teenager.

Today Abby turned 13.

We've traveled those miles and miles and now the things I didn't need to concern myself with "way back when" are right before us. In so many ways I feel just like that new mother sitting beside her daughter's hospital bed. I have the same questions I had back then. How will we know what is best for her? How will we prepare her for the challenges she will face? How will we protect her from cruelty? How will we help her come into her own?

It would be easy for me to get discouraged by this feeling of being back where we started if it weren't for one important difference. You see, I have something that 2005 Elizabeth didn't have. I have a 13 year history with Abby.

One of the best pieces of advice that we'd ever received was from a physician in the NICU where Abby was taken after she was born. After we'd peppered him with question after question about what the plan was for our daughter, he quietly said, "Abby will let us know what to do next." I remember thinking that was ridiculous. We were at a world renowned hospital. They should have a plan. But I watched, and sure enough, Abby led them. They knew just how to listen and she let them know exactly what she needed.

Abby has never wavered on that. If she needs (or wants) something, she will let you know.  Along with that, Abby has a radiant joy that impacts those she come across. She has a stubbornness that won't quit, but a spirit of empathy that reaches out to those around her.

So, as we head into this new frontier, as we step onto the pavement of "the teen years", I will remind myself to listen better to her, because even though I may not know all the answers to the questions that are flooding my brain, I do know Abby. And, if I look back I can clearly see that any road traveled with Abby is bound to be filled with joy.

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