The Girl Who Burns Down Shadows has Left the Building

Every parent knows that time is relative. The toddler years last about 100 years, while the elementary years last Ariel and mearound three. The teen years are gone in six months. And the three months from when my daughter announced her engagement until the wedding day arrived took place in the span of a deep breath.


The past month has been a whirlwind that culminated in moving all her stuff from our house to her house. The room is now empty. I didn’t find myself tearing up at the wedding, but at the boxes full of her things, at loading them into the van, at seeing the room without her. She’d painted, “You’re the girl who burns down shadows,” on her wall a couple years ago. That girl no longer lives here.Ariel's room

The reality is, she’s not coming back home. This adventure that started with a little pink line on a pregnancy test has come to an end. Now, I know that I’m still her mom, but it’s different now. It will never be like it was and that is a bittersweet realization. 

So, I wanted to share my wedding speech with you. 

A baby is a terrifying prospect. Terrifying and wonderful and overwhelming and beautiful. I was twenty years old and this perplexing baby girl was placed in my unprepared arms. Ariel Ann Friesen has been a great adventure. A small thing I was given for too small of an amount of time.

Ariel is a feisty, energetic story.

Ariel was always getting into mischief. I had to make sure she was well occupied before I stepped out of the room or hell would be unleashed. When she was five, our laundry room was in the basement. I needed to change loads over, so I decided to give her a bag of raisins to share with her one-and-a-half year old brother. I thought, surely that would keep her busy for the five minutes it would take me to attend to the laundry. I hurried through my chore and returned to the living room to find raisins scattered over every square inch of the room and her skipping around, tossing the remainder over her head. I stood in the doorway and asked, “What are you doing?” She froze and stared at me. “Ariel, you have to clean this up.”Ariel and Corban

Her mouth fell open and she exclaimed, “Why do I have to clean it up?”

Her tenacity, at times difficult to deal with, would prove invaluable. I’ve many stories about the mischief she got into, but what you may not know is that she is a hero, a lifesaver. She saved her younger brother, Corban’s life. He was just over a year old when he fell into the baptismal tank at church. She was the only one who saw. She screamed and yelled until she had our attention. We bought her a happy meal for her good deed. I can say with absolute certainty that Corban would have drowned that day without Ariel.

When she was too young to remember, I lost our second child through a traumatic miscarriage. I was heartbroken. I came home from the hospital and held my precious baby girl in my arms and marveled at what a miracle she was. And she was with me, a comfort and a reason to get up in the morning, through losing two more babies. She probably doesn’t know that she saved my life too.

James, if you give her the freedom to be who God created her to be, she will enrich your life in ways you can’t imagine. I wish you both decades of blessings.

 

Ariel and James

It’s been an honor to be a part of her story.

 

My Nuclear Freak-out

Blogging has been tough lately. I usually blog about what’s on my mind, but lately what’s on my mind has been a series of secrets. Yep, stuff I can’t share. So, with those things so consuming my thoughts, my mind’s drawn a big fat zilch when it comes to blog ideas.

But, last night on Facebook secret #1 went public.

There are many questions that plague mankind—whether the chicken or the egg came first, whether Adam and Eve had belly buttons, how the fourth season of Arrested Development could suck that bad.

Over the past couple weeks I’ve had an answer to one profound question: How would I react, if say, my daughter got engaged a couple weeks before her high school graduation?

Now I know.

I totally freak out. Not on the outside, on the inside. On the outside I’m calm. On the inside I’m Ivy Mike (the codename given to the first full-scale test of a fusion nuclear bomb). Ivy Mike vaporized an island. Wiped it off the face of the Earth. Not literally because it probably ended up in the upper atmosphere and fell as rain all over the world. Kind of poetic in a sick, destructive kind of way.

The end.

I know that’s no way to end a blog post. There’s no closure, but that’s how it is. I don’t have grand advice. No epiphanies. I’m still kind of freaking out, but I’m trying to do it in a supportive and encouraging fashion.

Maybe by the time I post next, secret #2 will have gone public too.

A Milestone in a Mother’s Life

Today was one of those milestones in the life of a mother—grad dress shopping with my only daughter. I kept thinking, how did I get here? She spent roughly 80 years as a toddler, but the high school years have only lasted a few months.

I was twenty years old when I had my baby girl. She was the tiniest little thing, weighing in at only six pounds, two ounces. Her pinky toenail was a marvel. How could toenails come so small?babyA

She was a difficult toddler. Busy, busy, busy. She gave up naps when she was 18 months old. She ran me off my feet. She was a temper tantrum thrower and a mischief maker. But, she got me through some hard times. We had to say goodbye to three babies after her and holding her in my arms was a salve for my soul.

BabyA2

She’s been a great big sister. She’s kept her brother is line. She even changed diapers.BabyA3

We made it through some tough teenage moments. I’ve been so angry at her that I couldn’t look her in the eye for days and I’ve been so proud of her that I’ve wanted to cry. Joyful and anxious. Elated and heartbreaking. Laughing and weeping. Raising a daughter is always both.