As we get older, birthdays don't seem matter as much. Sure, there are the milestone birthdays that end in zero, but, other than that, they usually slip by pretty much unnoticed except for maybe a small celebration with family or close friends.
But when you're a child, EVERY birthday counts.
I heard a writer interviewed on the radio recently who said that more experiences that profoundly transform us happen in the first 20 years of life. That's why our memories of that time are more vivid than they are of the midlife years, for example.
This past weekend was my daughter's 14th birthday. It began with a family 5K, breakfast at one of her favorite restaurants, an afternoon with one group of friends and dinner with another group. Basically, all of her waking hours involved celebrating her birthday.
I don't remember turning fourteen specifically, but I do remember that time in the teen years where you are no longer a little girl, yet not quite yet a woman. In a way, it's the last full year of still being allowed to act like a little girl as you prepare yourself to turn into a young woman. It can also be a time of great anxiety as you prepare to cross the bridge from one phase of life to the next.
Frankly, I can't believe my little girl is 14 already. Just yesterday, she was a round, cherub-faced toddler with sprigs of blond hair going in every direction running around the house like a whirling dervish.
I don't know exactly where she is headed in life, but I know that she's got all the right tools to do just about anything she sets her mind to. She is compassionate, hard-working, creative, beautiful - inside and out. I am so proud of the person she is becoming.
So, if I could go back in time and give my 14-year-old self any advice, it would be this: Relax. Enjoy being a little girl for a little bit longer. You have your whole life to grow up. Take your time.
I hope my daughter is listening ...
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books, including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.