Today is a day that was supposed to happen ten days ago. Nineteen years ago today I gave birth to my daughter--our one and only girl out of six kids. I was actually pregnant with Stephanie for forty-one and a half weeks as she was ten days late in coming. Funny, I always hold over Matt's head the fact that I was in labor for thirty-two hours with him, but I don't think I ever tried to guilt Steph much about waiting that extra ten days. : ) I probably should have as I was so totally miserable at the end of that pregnancy. I endured almost three weeks of people saying, "Are you still here?" every time I showed up for church. I finally started answering with, "Oh, I went into labor last week, but I stopped it with the sheer force of my will because I like the way I look!" I was not the most pleasant person to be around that last week of pregnancy.
But it was all worth it when I held my baby girl in my arms. I went into labor the day before I was supposed to be induced, and twelve hours later our girl was born. Because she's the only girl and she has five brothers, her daddy has always called her a rose among thorns. For awhile that was even her email address. Whenever people would realize the dynamics of our family, they would inevitably say, "You poor girl!" I finally told people to stop telling her that. After all, God designed our family and I refuse to believe that He designed it imperfectly. I told Steph that not too many girls could qualify to become a Boyd. Even I had to marry in order to become one. How special and unique she must be that God chose her to be the one sister in our family.
Needless to say, Steph's upbringing was unique because of our family layout. Stephanie could hold her own with any and all of her brothers when it came to wrestling, climbing trees, playing on the trampoline or even riding a motorcycle or ATV. She could also give her dad a run for his money in a hot wing or jalapeno eating contest.
We've tried to train our children to be each other's best friends. A person ought to be able to count on their siblings to back them up. One time at school Matt got into an argument that almost resulted in a fist fight. Stephanie was in the room, and I asked her later what happened and what was going through her mind during the argument. She told me, "Mom, I was on the edge of my seat. If "A" threw a punch, I was ready to jump in and help Matt!" Another time she watched as a girl we didn't actually approve of got a crush on Matt. Steph rolled her eyes at the flirting that ensued and then privately told the girl in no uncertain terms what she could expect if she did not treat Matt right. Fortunately for the girl, Matt lost interest before too long.
In spite of a mostly male household, Stephanie was also all girl growing up. She is older than four of her brothers, and while she hoped and wished for a girl each time I got pregnant, by the time I brought a baby home from the hospital, she was ready to step in as their second mother. She begged to be allowed to feed them, change them and care for them. She cuddled them, sang to them and occasionally dressed them up as if they were her very own life-sized dolls. When Luke was in kindergarten, he was supposed to be picked up when his class ended at noon. The school at our church had a policy that, if you were any later than fifteen minutes in picking up your children, you had to pay $5. We lived next door to the church and so it shouldn't have been difficult to pick him up on time. But one day I was busy feeding the baby, and lost track of time. Eight-year-old Stephanie got a look at the clock and realized it was almost 12:15. She immediately grabbed her own little purse and ran next door to pick up her brother. I don't think she had $5 to pay, (and the teacher wouldn't take it anyway) but she was determined to pick her brother up and take care of any responsibilities along the way.
God has blessed Stephanie in so many ways. She is an absolutely beautiful girl, but I don't think she ever believed that, even though people told her all the time. She also has a beautiful voice, and can sing both soprano and alto. When she sang publicly for the first time at a competition, her rendition of "The Value of One" stopped everyone in their tracks. I have always loved to hear her sing.
God also blessed Stephanie with a great deal of brains. : ) That girl has always studied hard and carried very high grades. During her sophomore year of high school, Stephanie began having a lot of physical problems and she missed a great deal of school. Determined not to get behind, she studied and worked hard. She was not only able to complete her work that year, but she also made mostly A's in doing so.
There's so much more to my daughter, but at least I've given you a small idea of the wonderful and unique person she is.
Stephanie, my prayer for you as you begin this next year is that you will always love and serve the Lord with the dedication and determination that defined who you were while you were growing up. It's not always easy to follow God's plan for your life, but I want you to remember that He wants the best for us. You'll never regret making a decision to follow Him. I'm so grateful He created someone as special as you, and I'm so incredibly glad He allowed me to be your mother. I love you. I miss you.