This morning was awards day at my daughter's school. She's in 7th grade, so it is her last year at this particular school (and would have been even if we weren't moving), so there was something already a little sentimental about walking in and seeing her getting her medals. It doesn't help that she was getting her awards on the same stage where I totally PWNED her dad in academic competition. PWNED, you guys. It was bloody. What an amazing, amazing night.
Where was I?
Anyway, Gabby told us that her teacher told her to make sure that we came, but she didn't really put a lot of emphasis on it. Of course, we showed, as we always do. Gabby made sure to pick out our clothes beforehand so that we embarrassed her the least we possibly could. We were both really surprised that she let Matt wear a t-shirt with pi on it.
The awards day went pretty normally with a handful of kids--Gabby included--getting a lion's share of the awards. They placed a bunch of medals around the kids' necks, and it was fun to see them walk around afterwards with their hands strategically placed so as to minimize the clink-clank of the metal. Gabby, being in seventh grade, got hers at the end of the ceremony. We clapped politely and tried to keep Alice from attacking these twin baby boys sitting behind us.
At the end of the ceremony, they had two retiring teachers come to the podium. One of them is one that I had as a teacher myself in sixth grade and who had coached our academic team in high school. She began crying as she spoke about teaching at the school for all the years that she had, and all the wonderful students she had had. I found myself already tearing up, remembering what a good teacher she had been for me and for Gabby. She then started talking about giving out a special Principal's Leadership award to a special student. She went on to describe the student as someone who loved to learn, who was bright and intelligent while being friendly and fair, who always showed respect to her teachers and fellow students. She talked about the student bringing in stuff she had researched at home and books she had borrowed from her parents. She talked about the student impacting everything she touched and making it better for those around her. By this point, I was full on crying.
Then she said that she had also taught the student's mother, and that "the apple had not fallen far from the tree." She said that the only difference between the student and her mother was that her mother refused to sit in a desk the correct way and that the daughter did that, and everything else, correctly.
And since I'm bothering to type this all out, you know that the student was Gabby and well, I'm her mom.
Gabby walked up to get her trophy in her skin-tight jeans and hipster glasses, that perfect I-don't-really-care-about-my-hair triangle of hair falling over her forehead. She had a blue American Apparel hoodie tied around her waist, for a reason I do not understand but probably would if I were 13. She is awkward in that way that all 13 year olds are, but also beautiful in a way that amazes me and fills me with joy. And she is mine.
I am closing in on 30 this year, and sometimes, all I can think of is the stuff I've done wrong. I don't have a master's degree yet, much less the Ph.D. I once considered, I haven't found my dream career, my depressing coming of age novel lies in sad files on my work computer's hard drive. I live in the hometown that I have the most complicated relationship with and spend most of my time abhorring with every fiber of my being. I don't exercise with any regularity, and last night, I singlehandedly consumed more calories while sitting on my couch watching crap on ID than I probably should have in a week. BUT. I have raised a Gabby, and a Sam, and even an Alice, and they are amazing and smart and funny and not only do I see that, but the world does too. It is mind-blowing. For all the stupid stuff I've done, and let me tell you, there's a lot, I have done two things: I have lived and I have raised amazing, brilliant, respectful kids.
I don't have really anything in my life figured out. I wish I could impart something about raising these kids that would be wise and would inspire someone else to look at their child in a new way, but I can't. For all my words, I don't have the ones that would do that.
Hillary Clinton once said that the best compliment you can give a mother is to compliment her child. And that is true. This morning, hearing all those wonderful things about Gab, the same child who only recently told me that she is scared of spoons, I felt so amazing. Truly. If I have managed to produce something that awesome, well, maybe I'm not that bad myself. (Which is probably the slippery slope encountered by anyone ever featured on "Toddlers and Tiaras.")