February 19, 2009 by Ellen Stimson in Celebration, Mothering

I always wanted a girl. I imagined long flowery hippie dresses and funky jewelry with flowery hats. I figured we’d play dolls together for hours at a time. I dreamt of long cozy talks and painting our toenails with minty glassed of iced tea and a pile of magazines between us. I figured we’d trade books and secrets and I vowed we would never have teenage screaming matches like I did with my own mother. I imagined it all good.
What I got was even better.
Some of us are lucky enough to get two chances at the mother daughter bond. You don’t have much control over it the first time around and you get a scary awesome amount of control on the second.
Hannah Isabel came into the world on February 19, 1989. And for the last twenty years she has brought us thousands of hours of pleasure, mixed with hardly any worry and lots of pride and amazement.
We were thrilled when we got her and we are thrilled still. Her daddy kissed her 10,000 times before she was one so no man would ever be able to say he kissed her more. This anyway was his plan.
When we moved to Vermont the year she was thirteen one of her friends advised her to pout and complain and not just go along with our harebrained scheme. But our Hannah has always been a pragmatist. “They have decided. I might as well be cheerful about it because we are going. And they promised that if we are miserable and I am right and they were wrong we can move back. Besides I am going to ask for a horse to make it easier”
She got the horse and I got one too and we rode into Vermont and her teenage years together.
We spent hours on the balcony looking at the mountains and talking about boys while we soaked up the sun and painted nails and read about teenage fashion. ( She tends toward quirky Free People mixed with her easy elegance.) The smell of coconut oil instantly takes me back to those sun soaked afternoons which I will always cherish as among the best of my life.
We followed her to soccer, horse shows, softball, and plays. She was born curious and she tried everything there was to try. She is a student of life, practicing until she accomplishes whatever she decides she wants. Always interested in fairness and justice, she discovered constitutional law in high school and wound up studying it for three years even adding an independent study when they ran out of classes for her to take.
She dated one nice boy after another and we dissected them like rats. She was an astute observer of human nature and she knew what she liked and more importantly what she didn’t. Tall, well mannered and funny were at the top of the list. She likes warm cars, open doors, and liberal politics married to sweet attention and playful Saturdays at the beach or on a sled.
She was an organizational wonder who forgave me lost keys and missed appointments. She never met a rule she didn’t like and she made the trains in our house run on time. She was a born gown-up and God knows there were plenty of times when we needed one around here.
Hannah is trustworthy and smart, reliable and funny, silly and true. She is a great big sister to her younger and older brother both. She is the most fair and rational person I have ever known. I have always admired her and often strive to be more like her in this cool-headed poise especially.
At nearly six feet tall she looks like an elegant racehorse. Her hair is always neat and her beautiful face clean and shiny. Only this girl is built for speed and duration. She is the kind that lasts.
Why fight, we know we have a good thing. Hannah compares our relationship to her friend’s relationships with their parents and she says we are closer than almost anyone she knows. Since many of her friends spend their vacations here she figures they want what we have. Some of her girlfriends have become like daughters and sisters to us, and have spent more holidays with us than with their own families.
We do read together and we get manicures and pedicures and cook big elaborate holiday meals. The family recipes are in their fifth generation from John’s Great Grandmother down the line to Hannah.
We are plenty lucky and we know it. She is exactly what I was dreaming about all those years ago when I had dolls spread out all over my bed. Only I didn’t know back then how big to dream. Hannah has shown me how.
Happy Birthday Hannahbella, no longer a teenager and now more woman than girl.
I love you more and more and more….


  • painted maypole

    oh. i dream to be able to write such a thing about the May Queen for years and years


  • Jamie

    I’m sure she knows this, but she is very lucky to have you. You’re right–not everyone has such a wonderful thing. It’s something to cherish, and I know you do.

  • katiedid

    Not completely sure why, but this essay made me cry and cry.
    You guys are lucky. What a thing to be so adored by your mom at 20. May you have many more sun sweet balcony days and plenty of manicures

  • Anonymous

    Oh how wonderful!! What lucky girls you are to share and share alike. I have such a relationship with my Kimberly. She’s a lot like your Hannah, but we did some of that bonding in Norway and now Washington State. I too dreamed of a little girl and how she would be, and she came out even better than I dreamed of. Princess Kimberly and I have girl days, and she is just now 17, not too far off from Hannah. Happy days to you both and keep up your fabulous blog, I love reading your escapades in Vermont!! Hugs Jill in Gig Harbor, WA

  • library lady

    I have always been in awe of Hannah’s poise. I remember the time you left her in a mall because you were picking me up at the airport and couldn’t find her. When I was a teenager, I would have ripped both of us to pieces when I finally got picked up, but not Hannah! It took the ride home and a donut or two, but she was even nice to me, the cause of her abandonment, for my whole visit–what class! Happy birthday one day late, Hannah!

  • TheCynicalOptimist

    She sounds just amazing! congrats on being a great mom to a great daughter! My relationship with my mom is wonderful and I pray for the same with my sweet baby girls!

  • Kat

    I have never heard a mother extolling the virtues of her just lately teenage daughter in quite this way before.
    Oh I am sure she was a rat sometimes, but this admiration and love would make any girl be nicer.

  • Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge

    She sounds wonderful. So do you. Especially when, as a mom of young kids, I seem to surround myself with people who are complaining about their kids, or who can’t find a solution to their kids’ problems, or can’t seem to get a break from their kids. I love how much you love Hannah. And I love how you so clearly tell the story.

    And, the signature on my posts I got from mylivesignature.com HOWEVER they don’t really give you instructions as to how to put it in your html code, so if you want to do it just create a signature there at the website,then email me and I’ll give you the instructions.

  • starrlife

    What a beautiful post!Happy birthday Hannah! Happy birthday Mom! She sounds so lovely..you must be so proud.

  • Beesknees

    She sounds great. But what really sounds great is being so completely seen.
    Lovely tribute. Happy Birthday girls….

  • the mother of this lot

    Happy Birthday Hannah! Have a lovely day!

  • Bia

    hannah sounds just lovely.

    i, too, dreamed of having a daughter one day . . . saved all my barbies and a three story barbie townhouse . . . but i got three boys.

    and i love them like crazy even though my barbie townhouse is gathering dust in the attic.

  • Anonymous

    thanks mommy. love you

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