The naysayers won’t hesitate to tell you how tough life can be with a teenager (or two) in the house, how they talk back and have little doubt that they’re smarter than you, how their attitudes quickly outgrow your ability to be patient, how they turn dark and moody over the slightest provocation, how they would rather hang with their friends than families… BUT… they never seem to tell you how much fun it can be to have them around.

She turned 14 today, and I am still head-over-heels in love. She makes me laugh almost every day. She’s got a sense of style that puts Tyra Banks to shame. When she’s feeling confident (which she often is these days), she glows with beauty and self-awareness. She is fiercely loyal to her friends, but she still likes to hang out with her mom. She’s got a mind for history and she’ll spout off random historical facts about people as diverse as Marilyn Munroe or Ghandi. She’s become almost obsessed with keeping the house clean and picks up after her younger sisters more often than I do (how lucky am I!). She hates handing in anything late, so she’s never had to be told to do her homework. Seriously – not once! She’s never met a mirror she doesn’t like. She loves to run and there are few things more beautiful than watching her do it. She is fiercely competitive in sports and will stare an opponent down even if they’re much bigger than her. She’s got amazing focus when something is important to her and more self-discipline than I will ever have. Despite how hard it’s been, she’s shown remarkable grace and resilience this year while she’s had to wait for her knee to heel before she can return to her beloved soccer. She’s the cooperative kid in the class that every teacher likes and we’ve never had to sit through uncomfortable parent-teacher meetings with her. She makes me marvel every single day that I am lucky enough to be her mom.

Hard to believe that fourteen years ago, she made me a mom. Happy birthday, my beautiful Nicole.

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