I saved this one for last because there’s honestly so much I could say.
Kealey was the one who taught me how to be a mommy, who stretched the limits of my patience and my body, who showed me how amazing this whole mom thing could be. She is my baby, she is my friend. She still fills me with awe when I look at her, and I think – I did that…I grew all that awesomeness inside of me and then I gave birth to it and it became her, my kealey grace.
She has always been a responsible kid, always tried her best to please everyone around her. Not to the detriment of her own likes and personality, but in truly just a servant’s heart type of way, to make life easy in any way she can for those around her who she loves and respects. Her teachers all have glowing things to say about her, she is an amazingly smart kid who is excelling in her classes. She handles anything and everything they throw at her (she is a “tutor” of sorts to kids who are struggling in her classes), she is a leader of study groups, she is just so smart…
And beautiful. She’s all of a sudden this young lady – and not my baby anymore, and definitely not a little girl, but she’s just….growing up before my eyes.
I wrote this post about her first day of school a few years ago, and it still rings so true. She is still my helper and my companion and my friend and I have no idea what I’d do without her.
I think sometimes, that of all of them, Kendall’s hospitalizations are hardest on Kealey. oh she’d never tell you that or admit to it, but I think they are. She imperceptibly shifts into “responsible mode”. You can just see this resoluteness in the set of her jaw, watch as her eyes steel over into “get through this, be strong for your sisters, put one foot in front of the other” from their usual giggly sparkliness. No one asks her to do this, it is just who she is. She knows that I cannot do it all and keep it all together, and that my focus has shifted to Kendall, so her focus shifts to her sisters, to protecting them from what she can read in my eyes even if my mouth is saying something different. That i’m worried, that it probably will be longer than one night, that kendall is really sick again. I don’t try to ever lie to them – but I have a game face while I am hugging them goodbye. Kealey has learned to see through that. I don’t know when or how, I just know she does.
I am sorry she has so much responsibility she loads onto her own shoulders, and yet I am proud. This kid – she has this wisdom and maturity that is far beyond her years. (Except when it comes to teasing her sisters – she is VERY age appropriate in that arena!) While many of her friends are caught up in name brand clothes, electronic gadgetry, and all sorts of things money can buy – she worries about things like whether her sister will be home for the holidays, she wants a cure for mitochondrial disease, she’s learning how to read words like onandesetron and diphenhydramine so she can grab meds for her sister when I am out of hands.
I am so so so glad though to see that she does have times of being a regular, normal, healthy 11 year old girl. She DOES love her aeropostale sweatshirt, she does have an ipod on which she texts her friends, she loves when we get to go on mommy/kealey movie dates, which I try to do every couple of weeks with her. I know these next few years are so important. Big changes are coming her way and if I am not ready with answers and responses to her questions, there’s no telling who or where she will turn to for those answers. I am so glad that she has an amazing relationship with her daddy still (she always has been and always will be a daddy’s girl), and that he too works so diligently to keep that relationship up, especially as we enter the pre-teen/tween years. I don’t know that we have all the right answers, or any answers really, but I know we love her fiercely and will do our best to get her safely through this time.
She also has dance as an outlet, along with Karissa, and it is SO very rewarding to see her growing and learning and becoming an amazing person, able to express her feelings through her dance. The studio she dances at is full of amazing people as teachers, friends, and in general an amazing support system. It is my deepest hope that we are able to continue sending them to this amazing place, and to even get Kaylen dancing there soon too. For all of them, having the outlet of dance, even in the midst of chaotic medical stuff/hospital stays/etc – it is so important, to us and to them. We have seen so many amazing things come from them being in such a great studio, doing what they love to do.
Anyways – I could go on for days about Kealey Grace. She, like the others, is amazing. I am so blessed by them, and to have them. None of this, our family, our days, our craziness – would work without them. They all bring something unique to the table and they all help counterbalance each other.
Kealey – I am so proud to be your mommy, and I am so lucky that you are my baby girl~