Lucky 13, in a milestone way

By Mir
April 18, 2011

Monkey claims that 13 is his lucky number, in large part, because it’s mine. He still thinks I’m cool; he still wants to like what I like and do as I do.

You, on the other hand, suffer under no such delusions. If I say it’s black, you are all but legally obligated to say that it’s white. If I dance to a song, you roll your eyes and make a mental note of the song’s now inherent uncoolness. If I remind you to thank me for something, you deadpan, “Thank you so much, Mom, you’re are quite simply the very greatest,” and don’t even crack a smile until I start laughing.

But you also curl up with me on the couch to watch television; plunk yourself down in my lap as if you were still a preschooler instead of just a few inches shorter than I am; demand I join you in jazz hands or link arms and skip with you; and rest your head on my shoulder and catch your breath when you’re trying not to cry. Because I am yours and you are mine, and today you are a teenager, even though you’re still my baby.

I don’t know if you remember that you used to dread growing up. Every birthday brought tears and angst; I spent every night before reassuring you that nothing would change until you were ready. The tough exterior you showed the world all but crumbled in the face of what you feared was more change.

This is the first year I can remember since you were a baby that you didn’t freak out and melt down. You’re ready; you’re ready for your last year of middle school, ready to plan for high school, ready to think about carrying out various whispered schemes you and your friends giggle about and no longer share with your parents. Despite your belief that I get more and more stupid as you get older, I do realize that you’re telling me less and less, and that what you tell me is carefully curated and sometimes just manufactured to shield your budding independence. Believe it or not, I was 13 once, too. I get it. Just remember that when you do need or want me, I’m right here, okay?

I worry that lately there’s been too much emphasis on your missteps. I wish we could just shrug our shoulders and say, “Oh, well!” and all agree that you’ll do better next time, instead of the drawn-out battles and litany of consequences. We do what we feel is necessary to shape you into the magnificent human we know you can be—really already ARE—but I assume that even the Dalai Lama had to be grounded sometimes, sweetie. It’s all a part of how growing up goes. But don’t you forget that this is one small piece of it.

Because one of the truths of this age is that for every time I say, “I’m disappointed” to you, I’ve said, “I am so proud of her” three or four or ten times to other people. And both statements are true, and I’m working on remembering to make sure you always know it. SOMETIMES I am disappointed in your choices. ALWAYS I am fiercely proud of the young woman you ARE, of how hard you work, how far you reach, how deeply you feel and how fully you care, even as you set your chin and insist you don’t. It is BECAUSE you are so incredible that our expectations are so high, because we need you—maybe even the world needs you—to remember to use your power for good.

You have no idea, yet, how much power you have. That’s as it should be. But I’m asking you to just trust me on this one.

I joke that you are my mini-me, but more and more, I see that’s such a small slice of truth in the bigger picture. You are so much smarter, more beautiful, funnier, and emerging as your own unique and wonderful self. We have similarities, of course. But you are all you. I wish I could take the credit, but I don’t think I can. You’re a force of nature.

In keeping with your awesomeness, you came home early from being with your dad and I came home early from my conference and together we enacted the First Act of 13, which was this:

For months we negotiated the bleaching/dying/streaking of your hair, and finally my stylist saved us—had we heard of feathers? We hadn’t, but now we’re experts. The time we spent in the kitchen yesterday, attaching your new adornments, then playing with curling and arranging them, seems like a somewhat unfair present for YOU, because it was so much fun for ME to watch you be so delighted.

There were a couple of presents this morning, and there will be a few more, later. “I have another present for you, if you want,” I told you over breakfast. “I think you’re old enough to read my birthday post to you, this year.”

“Wait. You write a post about my birthday?”

“Every year, kiddo.”

Your mind was clearly boggled. “You write a post about my birthday EVERY YEAR? I thought you didn’t want anyone to know who I am!”

That made me laugh. Baby, everyone who reads me knows who you are, they just don’t know what you look like (you know, on the outside). I’ve been sharing you for half your life. But only because it would be selfish to keep this much awesome all to myself.

Happy birthday, my little Chickadee. Welcome to teenagerdom. I’ll have my jazz hands ready for you whenever you need them. Don’t forget that.

I love you so much-ess, you simply have no IDEAS (ha)!


  1. birchsprite

    Aww Mir that was wonderful. And Happy Birthday Chickadee! This random stranger on the other side of the world loves watching you grow into a fantastic young woman and I for one can’t wait to read your blog one day!

  2. Alison C

    Happy Birthday, Chickadee!

  3. Em

    Happy Birthday, Chickie! You are adored from afar and clearly loved in your home. And as the mom of kids slightly younger than you, I read and try to learn how to do it. How to make a kid as spectacular as you and still get the discipline part right and the love part right in balance. I’ll let you in on a mom secret, we aren’t always sure we are doing it right. I think though, sometimes you can take a step back and really look at your kid, like your mom did here and know you are doing something right (or at least not doing as much wrong as you worry you might be). Enjoy 13! For better or for worse, it will be an age you always remember. And congratulations, Mir, it sounds like you have a very special person there. Nature can only account for some of it.

  4. Katherine

    Happy Birthday Chickie!

  5. diane

    Happy Birthday, Chickadee! The you we know (the inside one) is pretty awesome – talented, smart, funny, compassionate… and so much more.

  6. Mary

    Happy Birthday, Chickadee! Enjoy 13!

  7. s

    simply beautiful – this post, your daughter, and you as a mother. dang the tears.

    Happy Birthday! and I totally get the angst before a birthday – I was the same and in many ways still am – I wanted to remain in the safety of the age I was!

  8. paige

    Happy Birthday, Chickie.

    Remember that (even if it seems a little weird) you have a team of “Aunties” rooting for you from all across the world. We may not know what your outside looks like, but you’re a gorgeous, gorgeous girl all the way through.

  9. Damsel

    Happy Birthday, Chickadee!!! You should know that, yes, your mom writes about you here, but every single post is threaded with love and pride for you.

    Here’s to 13! Enjoy it!

  10. Jill W.

    Many happy returns of the day, Chickadee!

  11. amy

    Awww! <3 Happy Birthday Chickadee!

  12. cheryl

    Lucky 13. Happy Birthday, Chickadee!

  13. Megan

    Happy Birthday, Chickadee! And yes, we know you’re probably rolling your eyes at a lot of this, but if your 13 is like my 13 you’re probably pretty pleased too – and the good thing is that the eye-rolling is only going to last you another couple of years but the rest of it, like having an awesome mama who’s always cheering from the sidelines? That’s a gift that will last the rest of your life.

    ps- 13 is awesome. Enjoy it like crazy!

  14. Tenessa

    Happy Birthday, Chickie! My own little chick turns 6 today and even though she’s not a teenager, yet, I hope that I can express my love and admiration for her so eloquently when she is.
    So happy birthday to Chickadee and my Penny-Pie! May the foods be sweet, the paper torn, the hugs long, and the fun outstanding!

  15. Leslie

    Mir, my son turns 13 on the 27th, so I’m right there with you. Miss Chickadee, I wish you the happiest of birthdays. Even though you may not want to be seen with we moms all the time, we still love you teenagers! :)

  16. Karen R.

    Happy Birthday Chickadee! Love the feathers. :-)

  17. Marissa

    Happy Birthday Chickadee!!!! You are turning into a lovely young woman whom we all care about. I fought with my mother nearly constantly from 12-18, but as soon as I was on my own I realized how much I really needed her. Enjoy being a teenager!

    Remind your (fantastic pretty) Mom that this day could be even more auspicious – I turned 13 on Friday the 13th!! And then 30 on Friday the 13th during a freak ice storm that knocked the power out for a week.

  18. Dawn K.

    Happiest of Birthdays Chickadee!

  19. addy

    Happy Happy Day Chickadee! Enjoy!

  20. Deirdre

    Happy Birthday Chickadee! Love the hairdo!
    Great post, Mir! It beautifully expresses the love we read about every day. I’m bookmarking it to help me get ready for next February when my daughter turns 13, too.

  21. Liz

    Happy Lucky 13th Birthday, Chickadee. Welcome to the hood, Mir ;)

  22. Headless Mom

    Happy birthday Chickie! The feathers are awesome!

  23. Karen

    Upstate new York says happy Birthday Chickiadee!!!

    And Mir, welcome to the club. It’s an awesome, terrifying, happy, crazy, roller coaster, and now that mine are both over 18, I can honestly say it’s been the best ride of my life.

  24. Jen

    Happy Birthday Chickie. You lucky girl, you!

  25. liz

    This is a beautiful post. And I’m all verklempt.

  26. Beth

    Chickadee, please know that as much as we come here to read your Mom’s words…we also come here to see how you and your brother are doing. We love hearing stories about you and knowing that you are so very loved.

    13 was my favorite year…I hope it’s yours too. Happy Birthday!

  27. Kelly Allan

    Wow. Teenagers. I can wait. My boys are still so little. But some day I’m gonna have three boys – no long my “chipmunks.”

  28. heidi

    Happy Birthday Chickadee! Hope it is as wonderful as you are!

  29. Andrea

    Happy birthday, Chickadee!

  30. The Mommy Therapy

    Such a sweet, sweet post. I love reading about your love and dedication to your daughter. I love the way you parent her.

    I am so dreading teenage life, but your tales of Chickadee give me hope. :)

    Happy, happy birthday Chickadee!

  31. divrchk

    Have a great birthday Chickadee! Your mom rocks!

  32. elz

    I don’t know why I thought I could read this without tearing up. Chickadee, I can tell from the way your mama writes & talks about you that you are an amazing (and very much loved) young woman. I was you once-truly. And, we turn out pretty great. Happy Birthday sweet Chickadee, may your day be as bright & beautiful as your pink feathered hair.

  33. Sheila

    Chickadee: happy birthday, and let your mom know we internet people are so happy she decided to share you with us. Enjoy your day, and the new title of Teenager!

  34. SillyMe

    Happy Birthday Chickie!

  35. Christina

    Beautiful post for a beautiful (I can tell from how you talk about her!) girl! Happy birthday Chickadee! I love the pink “hair”!

  36. Liza

    Happy Birthday, Chickadee!

    You should know that your mom’s stories about you (and your brother) help a lot of us moms, all over the US, and probably the world. I have a daughter and a son, much younger than you two. When she writes about you, it helps me imagine my future, and how I might be with my kids. Not that our family is a cookie-cutter of yours, or that I would make all of the same choices. But reading the truth about people and families makes it easier to sort out and imagine how to deal with your own family challenges, successes, and breakdowns.

    Thanks for sharing her with us.

  37. Jamie

    Happy birthday to Chickadee!!!

  38. Navhelowife

    Happy, Happy Birthday C!

  39. The Other Leanne

    Happy Birthday, Chickie!! What Paige said is so true–we think you are the best kind of beautiful without ever having seen you! And just a few words in your ear…*Your Mom is pretty great*
    Mazel tov!

  40. Mare Martell

    May the best of your yesterdays be the worst of your tomorrows. Happy Birthday Chickadee!

  41. Katy

    Happy birthday, Chickadee!

    My younger sister just had her thirteenth birthday, too. I feel like I can’t say “little sister” anymore, as this recent birthday was a real eye-opener for me. Thirteen is the first age that I have consistent, potent memories of. I remember the big middle-school-graduating field trip, the new friends I made, the boy I had a crush on, the stupid things my science teacher said to make us remember the periodic table.

    Being a teenager is cool stuff. Hope that you enjoy it!

    PS I love your hair :)

  42. Kristi

    With a mom like that, Chickie, you can’t go wrong! Happy Birthday! Now, go get some tissues for the both of us!

  43. Jan

    Just as I started to read this, my sweet little first-born girl (almost 7) got up and crawled into my lap for her pre-starting-the-day cuddle.

    And then I read this:

    “SOMETIMES I am disappointed in your choices. ALWAYS I am fiercely proud of the young woman you ARE,”

    and I remembered how very much I fear the tween/teen-age years because how am I supposed to get this right with my daughter when my mom and I still haven’t worked it all out and it’s been 30 years?

    It’s OK, my Munchkin, she is accustomed to seeing the tears. :)

    Just lovely, Mir. And happy birthday, Chickadee!

  44. Melissa

    Happy Birthday Chickadee! Gorgeous hairstyle – enjoy your day!

  45. KarateMom

    Awww, Mir, can I hire you to write birthday posts to MY kids? Because you’re so good with the words and putting them in tear-inducing sentences. Me, I want to do that but the words don’t come together that well !
    Chickadee, I hope your birthday is fantastical!! I love the hair!

  46. dad

    Magnificent, beautiful post! Elegantly written.

    I wish I had had the talent to create the kind of legacy for my progeny that you are building for yours. Someday the archive of this blog will be their most treasured posession and Chicadee will have to deal with awesome kids of her own.

    Happy Birthday Chicadee.
    You’re a keeper.

  47. Kayt

    Happy happy birthday Chickadee! The teen years are hard, but your mama will guide you through them with grace and love.

  48. Laura

    Happy Birthday Chickadee! I’m sure it will be a great year.

  49. Crista

    Happy Birthday Chickadee! I LOVE your hair!!!

  50. hollygee

    Move over, let me in, too, so I can wish you a Happy Birthday, Chickie! Welcome to the teens!

  51. Maria

    Happy Birthday, Chickadee! Your feathers look cool!

  52. Pat

    Please let Chickadee know that an “old woman” in Arkansas shares her birthday & truly believes every wonderful thing that her mother says about her! Happy Birthday Chickadee!

  53. Laura

    Heard there was a party here and didn’t want to be left out!
    Happy Birthday Chickadee!

    I hope you have a very special day!

    BTW, LOVE the hair!!

  54. Lady M

    Happy birthday to your great daughter! You are a terrific mom. and I want feathers too.

  55. Aimee

    Awww… I LOVE your birthday posts! Happy happy birthday, Chickadee! I hope 13 is wonderful.

  56. Michelle

    Happy Birthday, Chickadee! Love the new hair!!

  57. Laurie

    Happy Birthday Chickie! What a great post :)

  58. Erin

    Happy, happy, happy birthday, Chickadee! You’re an amazing young woman, inside and (I assume, anyway! ;) out. Have a wonderful birthday, a fantastic year, and may you always know how incredible you are, and how deeply you are loved by those around you.

  59. kris

    Happy Birthday Chickie!! Love the hair. :)

  60. Scottsdale Girl


    now to run off and wipe my eyes and blow my nose. Because of ALLERGIES. honest. *sniffle*

  61. Lucinda

    Happy Birthday Chickadee. It’s been an honoring “watching” you grow up. I have a son and daughter about as far apart as you and Monkey but about 4 years younger. It’s been comforting reading your mom’s writing about you two and makes me a little less fearful about my kids growing up. Thanks for sharing your mom with us.

  62. Amanda Sasser English

    My Aspie boy turned 13 today!! Hard to believe his body is 13 and his mind is…. 9? Maybe? haha

    Happy Birthday Chickadee. By the way… that’s my nickname given to me by my mother…. and my “Monkey” is my son!! LOL

    Oh, and don’t drive your mom batty… although it makes for good blog material!

  63. KristenM

    Happy birthday, Chickadee! Your hair looks fabulous.

  64. Amy

    Happy Birthday Chickadee!!

  65. Shelley

    Happy 13th birthday Chickadee!

  66. Monique

    Happy birthday Chickadee!!!

    I, too, feared change for a long while, still do sometimes, but change can be good. Change brings you things you never expected. Change brought me my husband, my sons, a unplanned road trip because of a hurricane (it was fun!), etc. Change will bring you new friends, your first kiss, independence, and other things wonderful things, too.

    I’m wishing you a wonderful year of thriteeness (it is too totally a word!) with lots of highs, few lows and many blessings.

    God bless you and your mom (and Otto and Monkey!).

  67. Rasselas

    Chickie, here’s a happy birthday to you from faraway Croatia. :) Those hot pink streaks in your hair are super awesome! :D

  68. Beth R

    Happy Birthday, Chickadee! You’re growing into a strong young woman and being a teenager isn’t easy for the strong ones. Hang in there and remember to smile and let that inner beauty show to the world!

    (and hug your mom occasionally – it makes her wonder what you’ve been up to!)

  69. E's Mommy

    Happy Birthday Chickadee! You’re growing into a such a great young woman. And your hair is really awesome!

  70. Tracy

    Happy Birthday, Chickie!!! I know this sounds weird but Congratulations, Mir on making it this far! Be nice to your momma, Chickie! One day, you’ll be a momma too! :)

  71. Anna Marie

    Happy birthday Chickie!! I love your hair! And I think your mom is pretty cool :)

  72. suzie

    Oh boy, I’m a month behind you on this one. My youngest turns 13 in late May.

    I hope I can write her as poignant a memoir as this one. Nicely done, as always.

  73. Jen

    Chickie, you have one awesome mama. Never forget that, even when you’re screaming at each other. Happy birthday babe.

  74. Kira

    Happy birthday, Chickadee! You are as lovely as your mother, in as many complicated wonderful ways. Love you both.

  75. getsheila

    Happy birthday, Miss Chickadee. LOVE the hair!

  76. Annette

    Happy birthday:)

  77. Emily

    Happy Birthday, Chickadee! The world is very blessed to have you in it!

  78. Kemi

    Happy Birthday, Chickadee!

    May I also say how much I ADORE your hair? Because I do. A LOT. :)

  79. Little Bird

    Happy Birthday Chickadee!!! And thanks for the heads up about “feathers”, now I know how to get my own hot pink streaks!

  80. Jeanie

    Happy birthday, Chickie! What a wonderful young lady you are. And I absolutely LOVE the feathers.

  81. Aimee C

    Happy Birthday C!! Awesome birthday missive Mir. Totally cool hair-my youngest (11) has been asking for pink hair-this looks like THE BEST idea. Thanks!
    (Riding train out of NYC where oldest (16) just used one of his Spring Break days checking out colleges in the city…..someone pinch me because somehow my original baby is plotting his escape!)

  82. Alison

    Happy Birthday to Chickadee!! I hope it’s fantastic for everyone!!

  83. nae

    Happy Birthday Chickadee!!!!
    my baby is six tomorrow and she too suffers great anxiety about the looming day of presents and cake. Thanks for giving me the right words…’nothing will change until you are ready’.

  84. Laura

    Happy birthday, C! Awesome wicked cool feathers in your hair.

  85. Lylah

    I’m late to the party (here, anyway… I caught the one on Facebook). But happy birthday, Chickadee, and may each one after be even happier. Also: LOVE the hair.

  86. Heather

    Oh I love how you guys did Chickie’s hair. I kinda want to copy it ;-) Beautiful post, Mir. Happy birthday, Chickadee!

  87. Lara

    What a beautiful gift for Chickadee! Happy birthday Chickadee! I hope you had a great day. Stunning hair BTW – what a great Momma for finding a solution to the dye-dilemma and taking the time to help set them up. As someone who has never dyed or permed her hair – I love the idea! Cool style, no chemicals on you! Must stop using so many exclamation points! ;)

  88. Jen

    Just wanted to say Happy Birthday Chickadee! I hope I am as fortunate to raise such an amazing child as you. Have a great day!

  89. Karen

    Happy Birthday, Mir’s forever baby. This momma is a keeper. And the hair looks awesome!

    This post is so full of love and beauty…I don’t know about you, but I’m moved.

  90. Reb

    Happy birthday, Chickadee. I hope you have a great year!

  91. Veronica

    This post is so beautiful.

    Happy Birthday Chickadee!!

  92. Julie

    Happy Birthday Chickadee! My son is turning 13 in June Mir so I know exactly what you’re going through. Okay…now where is that box of tissues?

  93. Michele Bardsley

    Happy Birthday, Chickadee!

    (And Mir, what a lovely, lovely post.)

  94. Nancy R

    Happy Birthday, Fabulous Chickadee!

    Our first hit thirteen a few months ago…the rollercoaster begins.

  95. Billie

    Happy Birthday Chickadee!!!

  96. Rachel

    Happy Belated Birthday Chickie! =) I hope your day was grand!

  97. Ary


  98. Martha

    Happy birthday to Chickie and happy birth day to you, albeit belatedly! Most wonderful post and congratulations for being able to read it Chickadee! Must now go wipe my drippy face and clear my lumpy throat! Hugs to both of you!

  99. KarenP

    The hair is so cute!

  100. Brandi

    …aww. That’s all I can say.

  101. TC

    Happy day, Chickie. Your mom’s way cooler than I am, so please don’t tell my been-13-for-eight-months daughter that she let you have feathers, OK?

    And happy birth day to you, too, Mir. It all began 13 years ago. Boggles the mind, doesn’t it?

  102. Nancy

    Happy Birthday Chickadee!

    Mir- your post makes me want to cry. I don’t want to think about my baby girl growing up and becoming a teenager. How do they go from little babies to these independent people so quickly?

  103. Caroline

    Happy happy birthday Chickie!!! Your Mom also didn’t tell you that you have an entire internet fan base!! tee hee

  104. Cele

    Late Happy Birthday Chickie! Love the do.

  105. vanessa

    Happy birthday, Chickie. Thirteen can be a lot of fun…and when it isn’t, just remember that it will get better!

  106. Katie in MA

    As always, Mir, so eloquently written. As a mom of two little girls who I hope will grow into their awesomeness just as Chickie has, I so totally know what you mean.

    Happy Birthday, Chickie! I hope the year is full of adventures and magic and lots and lots of laughter!

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