Amid my Bandiversary festivities comes yet another celebration. It's a moment in time that came without sufficient warning. One that tip-toed up behind me like a winged angel. A moment that is stopping me in my footsteps--leaving me teary one moment and tongue tied the next. An occasion that is tugging at my heart and making my arms feel weak. Toni will be 17 tomorrow.
My dearest Toni---my beloved shopping partner, my darling, sweet gift from heaven...will become that age that I always considered myself. I--her mother--always felt 17. How can this be...a woman who has the heart and soul of a 17 year old is now becoming the mother of a 17 year old woman?
I cried the day Toni was born. That summer day not so long ago. When they told me I had a daughter, I cried. A daughter. A little girl I could name for my mother--Antoinette. A daughter....just like I was a daughter. A little girl....just like I was a little girl. Someone to play Barbies with and read Cinderella to. A little girl to dress up and shop for silly little baubles with.
My daughter. A sweet child whose smile never stopped. A wee little girl with a surprising sense of humor who once declared that I looked stupendous in a new haircut that I wasn't so crazy about. A little girl with the soft face and the delicate soul of an angel.
Toni came into this world a perfect little person. Other than a few to-be-expected teen frowns, she has retained that same perfection. Glowing and dainty and delightful. Even as a tiny infant, she had this aura about her that drew others in. Women would come up to me in the grocery store and awe over her beauty. And, I know they weren't just being nice. One time, as I was strolling Toni through the mall with Vince dutifully walking beside us, a woman stopped to take a closer look at her. This occurred after many other such instances during that same shopping trip. (Now, I have to tell you that I always had Toni dressed in the most darling outfits with matching hair bows and perfect little shoes and socks. Her attire alone always commanded alot of attention.) As the woman bent down towards the stroller, Vince jumped in front of the stroller with his arms spread eagle as if he was protecting his sister from a stranger. As you can imagine, the woman was quite startled! Later when I asked Vince about it, he told me that he was tired of people stopping us when we were out with Toni. Now, one would think that type of behavior would signal sibling rivalry. Not with Vince. He was entirely too practical for that (still is). He was just sick and tired of having to stop for people to look at his sister. We had places to go, people to see. And, of course, it was the last place a 6 year old little boy wanted to be--the mall. And, yes, in his own little way--he was protecting his sister. She was worth protecting.
A daughter is a special blessing....we all know that. But, for me, having Toni was a dream come true. Not just having a daughter. But, having Toni as my daughter. It's as if God said I deserved something really special and amazing and He sent me her. She lights up my days and gives me a joy that only her smile can bring. And, she keeps me young and light hearted and not too dowdy. A stylist, a shot in the arm and a youth tonic all in one.
Toni's sense of humor is and always has been beyond her years. She can do a sophisticated deadpan, she can find laughter in the silly things and yet she always manages to keep her brightness, her star quality. I often tell her she can do anything on this earth that she wants to do. She can be anything she wants to be. She has a gift. A rare gift that is not measured by beauty or brains but by soul and heart. There is no one like my daughter Toni. Yeah, I know....all mothers say that. That's because we are all so lucky....to be mothers.
Toni has been my rock and my biggest supporter since my Lapband surgery. As young as she is---this girl gets it. She has been with me every step of the way. She has encouraged me, watched over me, educated me and inspired me. She's kept me on track and keeps me motivated with her determination. You see, right around the time I had my surgery, Toni decided it was time for herself to get fit. Now, I'm not sure if it had anything to do with me. Maybe I became the anti-role-model---she looked at me as I struggled with my weight and decided "NO WAY". Or, perhaps she couldn't imagine ever having to have surgery just to fit into cute clothes. Or, maybe it was just her time. I'm not sure. And, honestly, it doesn't bother me if she looked at me and shuddered. Because all I want for her is health and happiness. If she learned to find either through watching me then I have given her the gift that I always intended.
I could not have come this far on my journey without Toni. In many ways, it brought us closer. We discuss food, we grocery shop together, we share diet tips, we drink chai lattes together and we SHOP together. These days we can go into a store together and we can both find something that fits. There is a simple beauty in that alone. And, of course, we love shoes.
On that day...17 years ago...when my little girl was born...I dreamed of today. I dreamed of this feeling. This magical, sweet feeling of Toni and I....as sole sisters.