Today you turn 17. I can't quite wrap my head around this fact as it seems not so long ago that you were a shrieking toddler running amuck and wreaking havoc at every turn. And by that previous statement I am sugar coating nothing. You truly were a hellion of the greatest intensity. However, anything you've ever done has been to the extreme, a trait that will serve you well throughout your life.
Seventeen is suddenly such a huge number. As I sit and sift through the gajillion images and memories I have of you, I find myself laughing at your outlandish escapades of your earlier years; most of them involve you being naked, covered in mud and yelling at the top of your lungs. That is simply how it is with you: life on your terms and usually loud.
Lately, I find myself in awe of you as I watch you evolve into a young woman with talents and strengths of great depths. One of my favorite past times during your high school years has been to watch you in Mock Trial. Your gift of argument serves you well in this arena, to the extent that I realized very early on that your critical thinking skills were so way beyond mine that parenting you through this time would be a completely new experience. Luckily you have used your powers for good, your integrity in particular, and so most days you kick my butt with a certain amount of tenderness. Thank you for that.
Cass, I guess what I'm getting at here is that I see this time as the hey-day of being a mother to you. I know some people love the baby and toddler years. Not me so much. I have come to understand that these years where you piece it all together and wield it as your own, that to me, is the reward of this parenting gig. Your gifts are many. You are smart, generous, funny, kind, slightly wicked, beautiful beyond words. You are organized in a piggy sort of way. You are resourceful, fast on your feet, witty. Your gift of gab and your ability to B.S. are impressive. In fact, all of these together add up to one hell of a package: you.
I'm well aware that our days of softly living in and out of the minutes are coming to an end. In a year you will graduate and then take flight. While I know your journey will be magnificent, I'm trying not to think about it right now. I'm just trying to soak it all in and revel in the glory that is you. You are my one and only baby girl. You are Red Sister. Kick Ass Cass. Fifi. Briar Rose. You are the most beautiful being I've ever laid eyes upon and for that I am forever grateful that you came screaming into our lives and continue to raise hell every single day.
If I've said it once, I'll say it a million more times ~ this red is the only Red.