I have allowed that to sink in for the past few hours (since I woke up). Wow.
The oldest child is always new. Everything about her is a first time. The first steps, the first cuts and bruises, the first time she said, "I love you" and the first days of school---and now the first time she goes on a plane without an escort and we are barreling down the road towards first high school days, clubs, sports, first dances and dates and....just everything. She gets so much focus because we want everything to go as we planned.
It is true, I struggle with how much space to give her to screw up socially and how much I protect her from the inevitable mean-girl things that happen at this stage of life. She handles everything so much better than I anticipate. Over and over again, I am forced to realize that she is even more mature than I give her credit for (and I actually give her a lot of credit). The things I see that remind me of my own trials in middle school are things she handles with grace. She is loyal to a fault, but I realize that is something for which I can't help but love and admire her, no matter the tears it can cause along the way.
As the firstborn of five (+1) children, she is an incredible big sister. I remember when I found this in her school bag in 4th grade, as we were preparing to welcome Vincent that coming summer.
I was so touched, as a mother can be when her children admit/show their love for each other. Now she is a fantastic babysitter for us and for other families where she can earn some money. She knows how to play with little kids. Often, it is Sarah who initiates the play with her siblings that doesn't involve electronics or anything. She has a knack for that, coming up with fun and engaging play activities in which all ages of her siblings will play and enjoy.
I am excited to watch as our next "Firsts" unfold. She will be in 8th grade this year, preparing for high school, playing club volleyball, discovering more about herself. I love learning how she feels about the books she reads and the movies she watches. I enjoy following her Tweets and Instagram photos and really love it when her loving personality shines through.
Sarah has always had a contemplative faith-life, understanding things earlier than I anticipated. She is the reason Craig and I delved in and learned more about our Catholic faith. She is the reason we embraced NFP and ultimately became open to more children. Her baptism was the turning point for me and promising to teach her our Catholic faith and raise her to be Catholic was the best thing I ever did.
So, off we go, into Teenager-land. Happy Birthday, sweet Sarah!