Today my oldest "little girl" turns 11. Sarabeth is my niece, not my child but she's the first girl born into our family after me (that's a 34 year drought) and she and her sister are the closest things I'll ever have to daughters. I've blogged about her a lot over the years. If you're in the mood for a little time travel you can check out her 6th birthday pictures here.
Four years ago I wrote the following post about her 7th birthday:
Seven years ago everything changed.
I started work at my uncle’s State Farm office and began a career path that would afford me a decent wage and opportunity to continue working, even as my misguided romantic life lead me to living in 5 different homes and working in four different offices in 3 years. Seven years ago I started learning job skills and earned certification that will allow me to support myself as long as I need to… and on the same day...
Seven years ago today my legacy was born.
I don’t mean my career. Since 1968 there had been only boys born into the Gant family. We were blessed enough to add wives for my brothers and two little girls who became part of our family during their childhood. But no girls born a Gant… from 1968 until 2002.
Then… on this day in 2002… my precious little legacy, Sarabeth Leah Gant came into the world and promptly wrapped me around her tiny little finger. She’s had me in her grip ever since. From the time she was tee-tiny any time I was around her, my troubles melted away. She is wise beyond her years yet incredibly innocent. We have the BEST conversations! She has a childlike faith but understanding of God that few adults comprehend. She remembers everything. She can read better than some high school kids. She could count to fifty in Spanish when she was only 3. She memorized more bible verses last year than any other kindergartener in the church. She is tall and lean and graceful. She has incredibly beautiful red hair and adorable freckles and freakishly long toes. She loves flipflops and lip gloss and glitter and books and singing and dancing. She is shy when she first meets you or when she’s introduced to a new environment but once she warms up, she’s a little chatterbox! She is a good big sister… a daddy’s girl… she loves her mommy… she (just like her Aunt Heather) loves to be around people but also needs alone time to regroup.
She is seven. My sweet little Sarabeth is seven. I was a little misty driving into work this morning thinking about how fast the time is passing. I don’t want to keep her little because I want her to enjoy all that life has to offer as she grows up. She’s in a great community, with a loving and supportive church family and has parents who make her a priority. She has everything she needs to grow into an amazing person. I’m so blessed to be able to watch her grow!
Three years ago it was a Junie B. Jones birthday party and the cutie-patootie pictures are here. And this is what I had to say about her at eight:
The other blessing that entered my life 8 years ago was my precious niece, Sarabeth. Our family had not had a girl born to our family since me... so we had a 34 year "It's a GIRL!" drought! My nieces Tiffany and Elizabeth joined our family by way of marriage and we love them as if they had been with us their entire lives... there are no steps in our family... but we had no biological Gant girls born in all that time. Then came Sarabeth... my legacy... my pride and joy... my treasure... many, many times, my reason for living. We bonded right away and we have always enjoyed a precious relationship. I had a wonderful aunt growing up who spent a lot of quality time with me... who took me out of my all boy environment and made paper dolls for me... let me spend the night with her... and just always made me feel special. I wanted to be that kind of aunt for my Sarabeth. I hope I have been. Thanks to digital photography, I have more photos of Sarabeth than I do of my own three kids... thanks to the stage of life that I'm in, I've had more unrestrained, carefree time to spend with Sarabeth than I did with my own kids. She is beautiful, brilliant, extremely well behaved and funny. She is the best big sister that Jamie could have ever hoped for. She is a deep thinker... an over-achiever... sensitive... kind and loving. Truly, she was worth the 34 year wait... so, Happy Birthday Sarabeth Leah Gant! I look forward to spending many more birthdays with your sweet self!
Sweet memories. And then she turned nine. A few photos from her party are here. Nine soon turned into ten and here are some pictures from that special day. This year instead of the big afternoon party with cake and ice cream and presents, she's doing a spend the night party. She's of that age now. I've promised to go and hang out a little while with them Friday night and sneak out before my bedtime. I'm so blessed that she wants me around... that I'm not an aunt she only sees on holidays... that we have a real kinship, a bond... she's a treasure that I never take for granted.
You know, I really believe that God knew what he was doing in giving me the boys he did. There was Ryan, who was born grown... who was capable of changing out an outlet before he was potty trained - who actually announced to us at 2 years and 8 months that he was "now going to wear underwear" and he did from that moment on. No accidents. Ryan took care of me, took care of the mechanical stuff and the maintenance on the house. I know why God gave me him.
And I know why God gave me Cody... his sweet spirit... I always say that Austin is the youngest but Cody is my baby. Cody is the child who nurtures people. He cares about your feelings. Cody was my athlete, my little superstar. He was my reward, the child who wanted to get up early and go out to breakfast with me on weekends. He liked hanging out with mommy. I needed that.
God gave me Austin because God knew it would take someone with lower standards of cleanliness, huge amounts of patience and a really good ability to laugh at life to raise Austin. God gave me Austin because He wanted me to be able to see the world through Austin's eyes. I still cherish my time with him. I don't know what I'll do whenever he's grown and moves out on his own. I need him to keep me grounded and to remind me of my purpose in life.
So, you see, there were these three boys that God chose for me and in all of that, there wasn't room for the little girl I so desperately wanted. God knew that if I could just hold out for a few years that He would give our family these two red-haired dolls who would be everything we ever dreamed of... the little sister I never had, the little girls I never had... these amazing, funny, spirited, talented little girls for me to enjoy without having to have the health and energy I would have needed to raise a little girl of my own.
Truly, God's way is so much better.
We got a new scanner but the guy who I wanted to use to fix my mom's computer has gone out of business. Not sure what our next step is with that. Anyways... we went to Walmart and then to Rite Aid for prescriptions and by the time we got home I was in horrible pain. It's been a bad day for me pain-wise. I just haven't been able to get past it today, not even with the good stuff.
Tomorrow I'm going to wake up ten feet tall and bullet proof and I'm going to get some happy scanning going on and work on that book for Grandma's birthday.
Hope your Monday was good... and if not, at least it's just about over.
Love and hugs, y'all!