Our youngest daughter, Lauren, turns twenty years old today. She has always really loved her birthday. As a girl she looked forward to her birthday for weeks beforehand. And she celebrated so happily once the day arrived. It was sweet to watch. And even a little inspirational. Most of us don’t allow ourselves this joy. But it was authentic with Lauren. “Of course it’s a great day,” her behavior and beaming smiles seemed to say, “It’s my birthday!” I never heard her say this out loud. But she didn’t need to.
She lived with us on her last birthday. Patrick and I covered her bedroom door with balloons. We knew her future birthdays would have a different and more grown-up feel to them. Because on her birthday last year, there was less than a month until her wedding day. Her then-fiance made her day special by filling it with many thoughtful gestures and surprises. And we were happy to see this. But we knew that Lauren’s days as Lil Lo Patty, as her Dad has always called her, were dwindling down.
And so, last year on her birthday, Lauren was about to be married. Two years ago, on her birthday, she was newly graduated from high school. This year, Lauren is a mother to a two-month old son, Landon. She is a grown woman. She is a mom. She and her husband are building up several small businesses. I feel a bit of sadness as I write this, because I miss that young girl who celebrated so simply. I am her Bonus Mom. Some may suggest that I do not really have the right to feel bittersweet about Lauren’s growing up. But I do.
I love her husband. And I know he loves her. They’ll have a great life together, both as a couple and with their family. I know they’ll find success and have great experiences. And I am thrilled about these things. But I do miss the little girl who would fall asleep curled up by her Dad while watching a movie on the couch.
So now we bond over “The Walking Dead” and planning future family vacations. Lauren and her Dad meet once weekly for breakfast. They are both quiet. I don’t think a whole lot gets said over those breakfasts. But they both enjoy them, because they have that ease with one another- that ease where it’s okay to be quiet. Now two-month old Landon joins them. And some day, a long time from now, when Patrick and I are gone, Lauren will be realizing that she misses this small, young version of Landon. And that time passed too quickly. And that he’s about to turn twenty.
Happy Birthday, Lauren. You are our funny, athletic, beautiful, strong girl. But not really a girl. You grew up. We love you.
Michael and Lauren DeGraffenreid are part owners and instructors at 300 Functional Fitness.
Sign up for classes and get information at (316) 258-4181 Email: MichaelDeGraffenreid@yahoo.com
We at Marking the Moment Photography love birthdays and we love our family!