Today, she's 24. At 4:24 pm, 24 years ago, on an unseasonably warm March day, Kelsey Layne made her grand entrance into the world. At 7 pounds, 7 1/2 ounces and 21 inches long, she was perfect in every way.
She was an excellent baby, and I pretty much took her everywhere with me. I was lucky enough to be able to stay home with her for the first six months before I had to do my student teaching. Those six months were incredible because she was just so good. I loved being her mom; those gummy smiles she'd greet me with would melt me every time. She slept through the night almost immediately. She was healthy and happy pretty easy in every way, actually. How lucky was I?!
She crawled early. Ate solid foods early. Teethed early. Talked early. Walked early. Read early. She pretty much was in a hurry to do her own thing from the very beginning. As a toddler, she had a quite developed personality and an independence that is unusual to that age group. She loved dogs and Barney the Dinosaur and baby dolls and dressing up. She was a bit of a diva, in fact. She loved to spend time with her Nana, and she loved going to school if it weren't for all those pesky rules she had to follow. She was impatient and spirited and curious and precocious and confident.
Twenty-four years later, she's still all of those things and more. Kelsey is vibrant and opinionated and artistic. She's unapologetically liberal, fiercely loyal, and deeply goal-oriented. She works 3 or 4 jobs at a time, goes to school full-time for a double major in Arabic and Dance, and manages to make a little time for her fiance, friends, and family too. Sure, she struggles to balance work and school and fun, but she's managing. These days, she's also planning a wedding with all of her other responsibilities. She wants a family and a life that she can be proud of, and I cannot wait to see how her future unfolds.
She's funny, with an acerbic wit that sometimes surprises even me. She's become politically and socially active and is unafraid to speak her mind. She's carving out the life she imagines, and I admire her for her creativity and bravery in doing so. I think she'll be an amazing mom someday, even though I'm a little reluctant to admit to anyone I'm old enough to have grandchildren. (Aacckk!)
In many ways, she's the person I wish I had been at 24. She knows what she wants and isn't afraid to work hard for it. She possesses a confidence and self-awareness that I'm not sure I developed until much later. Her life isn't trouble free, yet she manages to truck along toward her goals. I'm proud of who she is and how she lives. And what more could I hope for my daughter than a life and a future that makes her happy?
Happy birthday, baby girl! You've made my life better in more ways than I can even count; I'm so lucky to be your mother.