“You Know You’re Growing Up So Fast”

“And mama’s worrying…” – Night Ranger

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My daughter is awesome.  She turns 16 today.  And mama might be worrying.  Daddy might be worrying too.  Worry is occasionally a normal part of being a parent, but his post isn’t about worry or fear or anxiety.  This post is about love and memories, and moving forward.  This post is dedicated to my daughter, sweet Caroline.

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Newborn Caroline sleeping in our old house in Lexington, OK in the winter of 2000-01.  Remember actual physical photos?  Slivers of specialized paper with images made to be stored in a frame or book or sometimes just a box with other forgotten moments of years gone by.

I remember the moment in the picture above very well.  I specifically asked God to not let me forget that moment.  He didn’t and He hasn’t.  What’s interesting to me is that I don’t remember this photo being taken, and I didn’t remember that we had this photo until I came across it recently among a stack of photos in a shoe box.  I think this photo just captures a perfect moment in time for me.

Seems like yesterday when we were dancing the waltz at the T.G. Smith Elementary talent show.  You were wearing your Cinderella dress we had bought you at Disney World, Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Cinderella” (my favorite song of his) was playing, and you and I were dancing like no one was watching.

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Seems like yesterday I was one of the WATCH D.O.G.S. at Smith.  I had so much fun patrolling the hallways and hanging out with you and your friends at recess.  We would eat lunch in the cafeteria together and all your friends would tell me crazy stories or what was on their mind, and then it would be off to recess where your friends wanted me to push them as high as possible on the swings.

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WATCH D.O.G.S. day and also hat day at school!

“Where you going?  What you looking for?”

Questions every parent wonders about their child not once or twice, but continuously as they grow from newborns into toddlers into elementary school children into awkward teenagers, and then young adults.  Moments come and pass.  You desperately try to hang onto every minute of them through videos and pictures and yes, even prayer.

Where did these 16 years go?  They came and went in 24 hour chunks consumed with school and meals and dance recitals.  There was basketball and soccer, dance recitals, and band and choir concerts.  Movies and television, bike rides, vacations to the beach, and trips to visit relatives in Oklahoma.  Time filled with swings in the park and building snowmen in the yard.  There has been Sunday church and youth group functions.  The days and hours have been filled with fights and frustrations and tears, but also with joy and love and lots of laughter.

“There’s so much in life.  Don’t you give it up before your time is due.  It’s true”

Sixteen years seem forever when you’re young.  I remember thinking that high school would never end.  It eventually does and it feels like life is really starting.  Off to college or work, and then the next thing you know here comes marriage and children and rent and car payments.  And then you’re asking where the 24 hour chunks of your now 16 year old child went.

Time is unconquered and undefeated.  It’s the great equalizer in life, and all you can really do is enjoy the moment.  I’ve enjoyed these moments writing this post and looking through old photographs and memories.  Some moments are easy and light, and sometimes there are moments of sadness and despair.  When those times come, you have to know something better is coming – a prayer will be answered, a friend will be waiting, love will show up.  Like one of my favorite 90’s songs says – “Things’ll go your way, hold on for one more day…”

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“But you’re motorin’.  You’re motorin'”

People my age have always wondered what does “motorin” mean in this song by the group Night Ranger.  The band has said numerous times that it’s just about cruising in your car on a Friday or Saturday night.  But I’ve also thought that it’s a great reference for not giving up and persevering in life even when things don’t go as planned.

Ironically released 16 years before my daughter’s birth, I’ve always loved this song.  It’s a power ballad that starts out on the piano, and then develops behind the percussion and vocals of drummer Kelly Keagy.  It was Keagy who wrote the song about his younger sister Christy who was “growing up too fast.”  I think all parents can relate.  The video reminds me that in two years this will be you, Caroline – wearing cap and gown (much like your pre-school graduation in the pic at the top) graduating from high school with a world of possibilities before you.  A life just getting started.  Part of me dreads it, but part of me can’t wait to see where you go and what you do.

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Drummer Kelly Keagy had hair like I used to (back row with the dark full head)

I know you prefer Bon Jovi and “Living on a Prayer,” but I really don’t want you working in a diner all day or an unemployed husband who used to work on the docks.  If that happens someday then I’ll have another easy post to write.  LOL.  So, instead, peaking at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 back in 1984, and dedicated to my beautiful, awesome daughter.  Mom and dad are so proud of you.  We love you.  And keep motorin’ sweet Caroline…

Happy birthday my beautiful baby girl.

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As always, thanks for reading.

sincerely,

the 80’s

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