edge of seventeen

There were many tears today. The kitten was adopted and sweet Maggie was purely sad. She understood, she did. She even accepted. But I heard her voice crack when the adoptee asked, "Have you named her?" And Maggie told her.

It was only five days. Five days to fall in love with a stray kitten who showed up on a rainy night meowing at the back kitchen door of Maggie's work.

But five days is enough to love something. I know this because I loved her in an instant. In the moment she drew breath, and all the moments before, she was in every beat of my heart.

She held it together to say goodbye and give kitten kisses, but then she came over, grabbed a pillow and laid her head on my lap and cried it out. What a rotten last day of 16.

Still. There was a quiet, dreary day warmth around our day. She woke up from a nap and I gave her her birthday gift. A mix of perishables and non perishables that equal a perfect day tomorrow--a new shower basket filled with 17 things to make her day (a day she is off school, but I am on)--a perfect, and perfectly solitary, pamper herself kind of day that ibwanted to frontload by giving her the gift one day early. New towels, a face mask, candles, bagel bites, Ben & Jerry's, sour patch kids. Among other things.

I had stored it in the freezer (the perishables, remember?) and I laughed and 'fessed up when she asked, "Why is everything so COLD?"

This, a day she will not begin here because she is having a sleepover tonight with her girlfriends. Ah, 17. It isn't an age for the parents as much as the friends.

We talked during dinner on the couch, conversation and clinking spoons-on-bowls and Gilmore Girls. We're in the weeds on it. It's ambient noise at this point. We talked. About boys. About Will. About family and friends.

Another hug before she left the room to get ready for practice. "Your gift is the best," she said at length and I was surprised. It was hardly anything. The real gift is some shoes that Dan and I are helping her buy. But it's nice to know someone knows you enough to find 17 things, I suppose. That's the kind of love that lasts forever.

And she is kind of below par today. Tired. Sad. But also warm and content and happy--all those things can be poured in the same cup.

Today when we were walking out of the doctor's office (she is cleared to play lacrosse-lite!), I can remember me rambling about how lucky she was to go to Universal with a team family this December during a tournament in Tampa. She is so excited and I am for her.

"This will be so exciting for you!" I said. "I'm so happy you are getting this experience! Especially because when you were looking down from heaven and God said, 'Well, which one of those ladies do you want to be your mother?' you made a terrible error and chose the ONE person who hates amusement parks and would NEVER EVER take you there...'"

She laughed and as I rambled on and on we got in the car, buckled our seats, reversed out for our parking spot and she said, vaguely, an after thought kind of sentence. As if this knowledge was so common as to be ordinary, forgettable.

"I chose the best mother is what I chose."

And on this eve, this edge of seventeen, I could not be more thankful that Maggie did choose me. She has blessed me beyond measure. She makes everything better, everything more lively, everything brighter. I could not ask for a better daughter, nor a better friend. I love you, Sweetpea. Shine on.

~originally posted November 1, 2021


  • I love your writings! I will probably read them all. I am Bess Kleckner’s mother-in-law—I received a fragrance gift from her and was looking at your website— it’s so fun to receive a wonderful, handmade gift!

  • Happy birthday, Maggie! There is a little magic in 17…
    Happy birth day, Mama Mona.
    Love you both.

    Shelley Carr

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