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This is What 13 Looks Like

posted Thursday July 10th, 2014


Annabelle turned 13 today.

For the last several weeks I teased my first born, asking if she was planning to turn on me the day she became a teenager.

“Eh, maybe,” she replied last week, tossing off one of those looks I used to give my own mother several times a day, long before Resting Bitch Face became an excuse for a bad attitude. I was terrible to my mom for the duration of my adolescence, although it should be noted that for the past several decades, she’s been my best friend, role model and (almost) daily confidante.

I write more about Sophie than Annabelle on this blog — I cut back on AB a while ago, wanting to protect her privacy, but allow me to indulge today, on the anniversary not only of her birth but of a day a surgeon sliced me across the middle, revealing most of my organs to my husband (who didn’t look away quickly enough and is likely scarred for life, and we’re not just talking about a C-section scar) and pulling out a giant, colicky baby. And that was after the epidural didn’t work and that was after more than a day of labor.

Not that I’m counting.

I made a lousy pregnant person, refused to even consider natural childbirth and never did get the hang of breastfeeding. I’d never changed a diaper before Annabelle was born. I didn’t know what to do with her. Or with myself. I chucked my copy of “The Baby Whisperer” against the wall when she was three days old, already a failure, I decided.

But we found our way, Annabelle, Ray and I, and while I’m not at all religious I do wonder if the universe was preparing us for Sophie — a daughter who, in many ways, will never grow up — by making her sister such an old soul.

Annabelle is quiet and kind. She had a recent growth spurt — we almost see eye to eye now — but she’s still among the smallest in her class. This bothers her less than it used to. She is a ballet dancer. She loves to draw. She wants to learn how to surf. She can play Silent Night on the ukelele. She has a giant collection of nail polish, though she rarely wears makeup. She’s the most adventurous eater in the family; the other night she ordered a crazy-huge bowl of Vietnamese soup with who-knows what in it, and slurped it down. Her birthday dinner request: Ethiopian food.

She adores her sister, who loves her back — and also gives her a hard time. Mostly, she doesn’t mind.

Annabelle’s birthday list included items like thread bracelets and a nail care kit, which didn’t seem adequate to mark something as auspicious as entrance to the teen years. She did not ask for an iPhone. In fact, Ray and I were at such a loss for gift ideas that I piled the kitchen table high with hair accessories and baking books this morning, and we each gave her a trip — Ray’s to the Grand Canyon, mine to San Francisco.

She was delighted. At least, she acted that way — and as of 8 am, she hadn’t turned on me. Not yet.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one a little worried about Annabelle becoming a teen. Last night, driving home from Sophie’s swimming lesson, she turned to me and asked, in a small voice, “Mom, even though I’m going to be a teenager tomorrow, will you still treat me like a little kid when I need you to?”

“Yes,” I said, turning my head to hide the tears. “Of course I will.”


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Tags: Filed under: family by Amysilverman

10 Responses to “This is What 13 Looks Like”

  1. What a beautiful family you have, Amy. Thanks for sharing them with us, and happy birthday, Annabelle.

  2. You just made me tear up. Awww. Happy birthday, Annabelle! Happy traversing-of-adolescence to all of you.

  3. Happy birthday, Annabelle! 13 is going to be amazing – and you too!

  4. Happy Birthday Annabelle. Hope you had a wonderful day!!!

  5. Wow. This is so awesome! Tell Annabelle that on her birthday (which was a crazy day for us in so many ways) that Sarah and I also chased my brother’s dog named Ernie down the street ( he hardly knows us) and also locked our selves out of my brothers house. And you know the rest of my day. It was a fun crazy day and we thought of Annabelle several times. We love her!!!!!

  6. Hey, it’s the first post of this blog that I’ve read and it’s awesome. After reading the bio my first thought was, well, of cours the story of the live of sophie will be so interesting to read (especially as I want to become pregnant and my husband and I have talked about down syndrom recently), but what about annabelle (like: do they both get the attention, because this is kind of hard to accomplish, isn’t it). And here the first post I read is about her. You must be such a great mum, your post is so full of love (for both kids) and I look forward to reading your posts! Happy birthday to Annabelle and all the best for your family!

  7. And now I am laughing and crying. What an adorable and well-written happy story. It’s terrifying to meet your idols. I see Samantha Bee all the time in the neighborhood and her dreamy happy writing about being a parent got me through an agonizing pregnancy so I finally went up to her one time and she had that panicked look but I soldiered on and said “Look, I like you on the Daily Show, love you and all that but your parent -writing melted my nauseated, depressed heart during pregnancy so I have to thank you for that.” She said, “Oh! You touched my heart!” And I chose to believe her. Fun fact: she grocery shops in pink pumps. I saw her do it once. I am not a stalker, she really is just always in my neighborhood. Obviously it is her neighborhood too (thrilling!) Anyway, I love this post. Can’t wait to read more! I am Columbia grad too, by the way!

  8. It doesn’t always go so well, by the way. I see Richard Kind all the time too and I went up to him with my adorable child on my hip, thinking that would keep me safe from appearing a crazy stalker fan and I told him I had always dreamed of living in NYC all on account of Mad About You and it was very awkward. I blame him. He was nice, but what could he say? Oy. He said something like “And now you have a daughter.” Um, yes, how very not to the point. Now when I see him we cross the street so he doesn’t feel put upon. He’ll probably move.

  9. I meant these comments for the post below about meeting Annabelle Gurwitch. Sorry! I need more sleep, am I allowed to pull the mother card on this one?

  10. aw, thank you Viki! you made my day. big time. xo

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