The Mary I’m talking about here is ours. Mary Claire. She’s a young lady who wears her name well.
Newly a member of the rank-and-file of teenagedom (having turned 13 on New Year’s Eve), it’s hard to believe she’s crossed that threshold. When Helen turned 13 and entered that world four and a half years ago, it was just another step to her adulthood. Helen was born old. Mary Claire on the other hand was a baby for so long. Big juicy dimpled cheeks, a sweet round baby body, and then at around the age of four … the freckles. Those still-present, picture-perfect kisses all across her cheeks and nose. She was and has been the epitome of childhood.
Mary Claire has played harder, worked harder, laughed harder and (at times) cried harder than all the rest. She has embraced her childhood for all that it is worth. During this past year, we’ve watched her hanging on to it for dear life. Not because she’s afraid to let it go, but she just wants to enjoy what it is. She wants to squeeze out every last drop. She doesn’t do anything halfway.
An example? She received crochet lessons as a birthday gift. Took a “learn to crochet 1” class on a Tuesday, five days later on Saturday another class, the next Saturday another and by the next day (Sunday) had crochet a sweater for Lillian.This past Saturday, she spent the afternoon at a ladies knitting circle making blanket squares for the needy.
Our dear second daughter is an ordered thinker. She’s systematic. Deliberate. Dedicated and just plain delightful. I often say, without her, we’d all fall apart. What 13-year-old calls her mother from a visit with grandparents in Florida to remind her that she has an appointment and should be careful not to schedule any conflicts? She operates the snow blower, the lawn mower, the leaf blower and has been doing her own laundry for years. She keeps track of our library books, loves to cook, follow recipes and directions. She can identify just about any vehicle by make and model. She craves independence and can really handle much more than I can offer (mostly because of the times in which we live). She saves and plans with the money she earns babysitting and cutting lawns. She looks for challenging opportunities and is always interested in discovering something new. And, I’m quite sure, Mary Claire could actually sell swamp land in Florida.
There’s a little true confession to this story. This remarkable young lady was our toughest toddler (and then some). She gave us a run for our money for years. When I hear parents describe their children as strong-willed, I have to be honest, I laugh and think, “Oh really? Well, you haven’t met Mary Claire.” Through my tears and frustration, I was so hopeful that the strength that she exhibited in sometimes less-than-desirable ways would someday translate into the amazing strength she embodies now.
So with that, I need to thank Mary Claire. Not just for all the help she provides us every day, or for all the wonderful things she already is and is yet to become. I need to thank her for teaching us how to really parent. She taught us the need to be stronger than even the strongest will, making us better and more relaxed parents with the children who have followed. She has taught us how to look at the big picture with each child and to always keep our eye on the prize.
I am happy to say that in our world, one of those precious prizes is a chestnut- haired, strong and compact, freckle-faced 13-year-old beautifully blessed young lady named appropriately for a Queen.