Ally girl, Lula, Alexandra Louise Christina,
Here we are at eighteen. It was just short of two decades ago that a British nanny in Newton was finding out the verdict of her murder trial (she had shaken a baby to death, who was in her care) while I was in labor. Nobody was really paying attention to me, because all the doctors and nurses were glued to the tv. Can you even? I thought Aunt Joni and Daddy might have to get you outta there.
Anyway, I got a good epidural this time (the one I had with Jake didn’t work very well), and at 6:55 PM, out popped a baby with more hair than most two-year olds have. Not even exaggerating, and you know I tend toward that, but I’m not, honesttogod.
You were a full month early, and nobody was concerned because they just thought I’d miscalculated, but I knew I hadn’t, because when you’re infertile you know the moment you are pregnant, and I had not been pregnant the previous month, and knew so because I had taken a pregnancy tests and it was negative. And you didn’t really seem a month early, because at 7.4, you were perfect. A perfect little bundle of adorableness.
Jake came to see you, all big brotherly, and we were still trying to decide on a name. Kaylie, Emmie and Ally were all in contention. Jake was going to be named Ally, so that name had been in our minds the longest, but because of your early arrival, we were still trying to figure it out. When we asked Jake, who when we put you in his arms, said “That’s my baby sister,” he knew immediately what your name was. “Her name is Ally, ” he said, authoritatively. And that was that.
You cried for the first six months of your life. A lot. A lot, lot. It wasn’t that easy. But just like Dr. Yogman predicted, the minute you turned six months old, you stopped and became a charming little thing with dinner roll feet, and thighs I wanted to bite, and cheeks I wanted to pinch. Pretty quickly you wanted to do everything your big brother did.
If I could have one of those days back, to be with you again, I would give up most of my life. I was so tired and stressed out that I wished away more than a few days when you guys were little. I wish I could have had more time to be patient, instead of worried. Maybe you can do that for me when you have kids. Be less freaked out, and more relaxed. I hope I get to see you as a mom, because that will really be a kick. Maybe you will have a little girl JUST LIKE YOU! Ha, payback.
Anyway, little Ally, you have come a long, long way from the day you were born. You’ve turned into a smart and curious yourg woman; funny, analytical, and the life of the party. You’re beautiful, an accomplished and killer soccer player, a hard worker, great friend, and a global citizen. Not to mention you still have the best hair of anybody I’ve ever known and I still want to take a bite out of your thighs.
Here at 18 is my advice for maximum happiness. You’ve probably hear it before, but it’s worth committing to memory.
- Be kind. When there are two ways to go, snarky, or nice, choose nice. Snarky is funny, but nice can change the world.
- Work hard. Whatever you do, give your all. You will get out what you put in. It’s so much easier to slack off, but working hard is one of the key components to feeling fulfilled
- Play hard. Have fun. Go out, be with friends, go to games, and concerts, and theatre, and travel the damn world.
- Don’t be fearful of love. Love is AMAZING. Sure, it can also break you in two. That’s ok. You will mend. Love freely and openly. Give all of yourself, Ally.
- Make friends. Lots of them. Everywhere. Having relationships is everything. EVERYTHING. Nobody wishes they hadn’t spent so damn much time with friends and family when they die. Dogs count here. If you want a really devoted friend, get yourself a dog. Best thing EVER.
- Find what you love to do and see if you can get paid for it. Being passionate about your profession means you will spend your life doing something you’d do even if there wasn’t a paycheck involved. If you can pull this off, you’ve got a shot at being the world’s happiest girl.
- Be grateful. Well, by now you know how I feel about this topic, but just remember, you will always win when you focus on what you have, instead of what you don’t have.
- Be active. Hopefully you’ll play soccer until you’re 97! I don’t really need to stress this point, you know how great being active is already.
- Volunteer. Give your time to things you care about. Get involved. Help people. This is stuff that will make you feel so good inside you won’t want to stop.
- Always carry with you the love of your family. We’re here for you 24/7. We’ll believe in you when you don’t believe in yourself, carry you when you get too tired, make you laugh when you’re sad. We love you now and we’ll love you forever and ever.
Happy birthday to my girl. The girl I’d choose again and again, on account of you teach me to be better everyday (not that it’s always easy). I love you, adore you, cherish you.
Your mother of pearl