Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sweet Sixteen

Sixteen years ago today on Thanksgiving Day, we had a baby girl. She had rosebud lips (still does), smelled of butter vanilla (still does), slept peacefully through the night almost immediately (still does) and against Dr. Spock’s recommendation, (I showed her the book and she spit up on it) dove face first into table food as soon as she could hold her head steady. She’s still an enthusiastic eater, despite her petite stature.

I think Louisa May Alcott may have needed to create four girls to fully embody the complexity of one. Olivia can be any March sister on any given day… worldly, homey, dreamy, curious, rigid, daring, afraid, happy, melancholic. But she’s Beth right now. She longs for the good old days when life was not so full of choices and responsibility and Mom and Dad could make magic with something as small as an unexpected toy from the supermarket. This is not to say that she doesn’t take care of business, just that she mostly does it with jaw set, heels dragging and eyes round and misty. It doesn’t help that I’m no Marmy—I’m lazy and complainy, I overfunction for everyone and then scream at them for not helping, I yell a lot and drink lots of wine outside of my husband’s return from the war or a nip at Christmas to help myself cope. Maybe Marmy had a flask hidden in her darning basket…I like to think so.

I always hear about the frustration of parenting the Jos and Amys—limit pushing, righteous impulsivity, raging against the constraints of family life. Sixteen year olds are supposed to be hatin’ on every aspect of family life, aren’t they? They’re supposed to be breaking curfew and sneaking around with boys and cigarettes. Yikes. Maybe Beth March is not so bad…

Olivia’s clever and capable and without a rheumatic heart, so as with everything else, (potty training and using her student planner as more than a coaster) she’ll grow up just fine, in her own time and at her own pace. I fiercely love this girl although the ferocity may be the only thing she feels these days. Mama Bear needs to “chill”, she would say.


  1. She gets so much from you.

    A happy birthday to her and a hug for you.

    ...Such a beautiful post!

  2. The easiest and the hardest entries to write are those that come directly from the heart, as you know, I am sure.

  3. But what does she want from her Chinese Aunt and Uncle for her birthday? If she let's us know then we'll send it... Aw Da Way Fom Chiiiiiiina!

  4. Hope you had a Happy Birthday Olivia! Both you and your Mom are truly unique individuals that I am thrilled to know. Your 'Marmy' almost certainly DOES have gin hidden in her sewing basket, along with magazines, a TV guide, and some bizarre object she has carted home from a junk (oops - antique) shop. Keep an eye on her.

    Happy Thanksgiving Little Women!

  5. What a beautiful tribute to your gorgeous daughter! You have much to be thankful for...
    We love you all!