We heard a cheer break out from the hall at the nurse’s station as the nurses helping deliver her announced we’d finally had our girl. They were as excited as we were, and had even taken bets on the gender. We finally got a girl after three very busy boys. That day, a most beautiful baby girl was born to us and we named her Kennedy Nicole (our fourth president). But of course, she became known as Kate. On the tail of three strong-willed boys, Kate was the easiest baby. She got stuck sleeping in a closet for the first two years of her life, because we were in the process of building phase two of our house. She was the best sleeper. I often tease Kate when she asks about her baby years…I don’t remember them. They were all a blur, as I was raising four kids three years and under. Yikes! Often when I look back on those years, they were some of the best and some of the worst. But definitely a blur.
Raising Kate has been one of my greatest pleasures. The gift of being able to raise two girls is a gift not taken lightly. For years I said raising girls is SO much easier than boys. Then the teen years began. The years started out a bit shaky. And I would probably admit they felt tougher at times than raising the boys as teens. But they were nothing like stories I’d heard from other parents.
I love that I had the extraordinary privilege of teaching Kate all the way through her school years. She had some rough years, and school in general was never her favorite subject. But she is so smart and talented in so many ways. Her artistic ability blows me away. She once challenged me to an art contest to see who could produce a better piece. I declined on grounds that there would be no fair judge. Her talents don’t end with a pencil in hand, she has an eye for hairdos and makeup, and even thought about cosmetology school for a time.
I can’t remember the year, but I remember the day. It was Labor Day. Because the big kids were supposed to be going to help with a clean up event with their 4H club. I think I was in the back part of the house with a baby in tow when Mickey came running in the house yelling that Clint was badly hurt. I panicked and froze. Because that’s the way my mind functions in the face of crisis. I hesitantly looked out the window and saw Clint limping up the driveway, missing a shoe, with a very bloody face. I imagine I went white. Or gray. My first thought was, Well he’s not dead, and he can walk, so it can’t be too bad. Later we found out he’d wrecked the dirt bike into a tree on the trail in our woods. I also found out later that when Britt first saw Clint, he also almost passed out…and he went to pre-med school. Something about being your own kid…and lots of blood. In the end, Kate was right there. She was the only calm one. She was the only family member that didn’t almost pass out. She helped clean his face up the best we could, before we took him to the ER and found out he had broken his jaw. It was after that incident that we knew Kate had a gift. Now likely eight or more years later, she has always been the stable calm one in the face of crisis.
Kate does not know all the details for her future yet. Which is so hard for her. She likes to know what’s coming, so she can be prepared. She always has been that way. This is such a great time of life. Ready for the adventure of the next part of her journey. But it’s also scary. So I pray peace and strength over my baby girl as she leaves the nest we’ve spent nearly eighteen years preparing for her.
On March 28th, Kate will be flying to Columbus with our good friend, Lauren, where she will be picked up by my aunt and then from there my brother will pick her up on his way from North Carolina to my parent’s. Let me just say, the way the details for that all falling together so perfectly was completely a God thing. Kate’s plan is to work through the summer while living with my parents to save up money for school. She’s especially interested in EMT training hopefully starting in the fall.
How are we doing with our 4th child leaving, you might ask? Some people say it gets easier with each child. Well, maybe it does for some, but it doesn’t for us. In fact, Kate leaving feels like I’m getting one of my arms cut off. I’m not anxious over her future. I know God’s got that. But we are going to miss this girl like crazy here. And though she and her sis have not always gotten along on the kindest of terms, they love each other more than they will admit. Meg will feel the void most deeply. They’ve always shared a room, until last year when the twins moved out. They are each other’s confidant. They tell each other things that we’ll never know til long after they matter. They have inside jokes with curiously awkward laughs. We don’t understand, but we love that they have each other.
So needless to say, we’re a bit of an emotional wreck right now. We try to keep it inside, but you can probably see it in our eyes. Or you can hear it in our voices when we seem unusually curt or impatient. We are mourning. We are mourning the emptying of our quickly dwindling nest. Four presidents down. Four to go.