It’s hard to remember life before Emily. As anyone who has children knows, everything changes when you have your first kid. I’ll never forget the feeling of complete joy and exuberance when we found out we were going to have a baby. As the due date of May 19 approached, the weather began to get hot — we didn’t have AC — and Mom was not enjoying the fact that Emily hadn’t arrived yet. After a week and a half of waiting, Emily still couldn’t decide what to do, so the doctor gave her a little prompting. After the quick procedure, the doc said, “Well, you’re going to have a baby sometime today”. And so Emily sort of reluctantly entered the world.
For the first few years, Emily had the nickname, “Billie” because of the bilirubin tests she had to have for her slightly yellow tint during the first couple of weeks.
Emily was a wonderful child — absolutely a joy. Looking back, it’s funny how some of the personality traits that she has now were evident even when she was very young. She was always smart, inquisitive, talkative, funny and generally very happy — but also inwardly a little fearful and worried about things.
She knew how to read by age 4, and didn’t stick with the little kid books for long, becoming interested it adult-level books in elementary school. The amount of reading she did as a kid made her very smart, very with-it, and a great student in high school. Achieving the International Baccalaureate diploma is an amazing feat. I’m so proud of her (as well as sister Lauren) for doing that.
Emily was always athletic. She started playing soccer when she was 6 and also did a lot of gymnastics in elementary school, then later on, softball, track and cross-country skiing. She loved being physically active and I loved watching her play. She has a great understanding of strategy — she was always the most aware player on the soccer field and the best passer. She continues to be an all-around athlete, able to pick up and be good at anything she’s interested in. I was so proud of her when she ran a marathon last month, but not shocked that she could do it. When she sets her sights on something, she goes after it with determination.
She found out that she was accepted from the wait list at the University of Virginia on her last day of high school. It was one of those life-changing moments that you only see the significance of in retrospect. She would have gotten a great education at UW Madison, but life took her to other places. It was hard having her so far away in college, but I was so proud of her for getting into UVA and for going off to such a great place. You hope your kids grow up to have their own lives and follow their own paths, so the being so far away part was a very small negative compared to all the good things she was doing.
Plus, she wouldn’t have met Kyle otherwise.
She didn’t set out to be a teacher, but decided to give it a shot a couple of years after college. In typical Emily fashion, she stuck with it through some very hard times and has done it for 5 years. I know it’s been difficult and frustrating — and it might be hard for her to believe this right now — but it’s been worthwhile. I know she’s good at it and I know she’s affected a lot of lives. Emily has given me many, many proud moments over the years, but I’ll never forget when I got to visit her classroom of 4th graders a few years ago. To see her all grown up, making it on her own in New York, and doing such a great job with those kids was really a big thrill for me.
So here’s to you Emily! Now you’re entering the next phase of life. You got married last fall to Kyle, who is a fantastic guy and you seem perfect for each other. You’re moving back to Minnesota, but it’s unknown territory in many ways again. You’re buying a house. You don’t know what life will bring in the next few years. But as usual, you’re up for the adventure. Just think about how much different things will be by your next birthday.
You’ve made a great life for yourself. The years have flown by and it’s been a joy to watch you grow up. I hope that some day you will have the experience of being a parent. I can’t express how much I’ve enjoyed having you as my daughter. You were a wonderful kid and now you’re an amazing woman. No Dad has anything more than I do.
Happy birthday, Emily. You’re the best. Enjoy the next chapter.