And just like that..

June 10, 2019

I didn’t expect to be expecting Oh Emily. We were done. 2 kids and a 4 bedroom house. We decided to downsize. We found a cute 3 bedroom house nestled in the woods with wisteria over the pergola and a little creek in the yard right in the PFT, or P-Town as Paul calls it. When I was packing up the bathroom at the old house, I found an old pregnancy test, and I could hear my husband’s practical voice saying it would be a shame to throw it away unused. “I paid good money for that thing.” And just like that, we were a family of 5.

We moved to the PTF. Within 3 days of moving in, Lauren had a near fatal accident at the house, and Grace started 3rd grade at Vienna. Things calmed down, we settled in, and my belly grew. Keeping with our family tradition, we decided not to find out if we were having a boy or a girl. My water broke, labor started, Grace watched this baby being born, and Grace was the one who placed this new baby into my arms after delivery. And just like that, I was the mother of 3 daughters.

Emily’s nursery was our master bedroom closet while we remodeled the house to finish a new bedroom for Grace. Emily shook up the status quo in our family in more ways than one. Lauren was no longer the baby, and Grace took on more responsibility. We were back to diapers and bottles and Dreft and lots of things we thought we’d left behind. But we hit our stride, and just like that we couldn’t imagine our world without Oh Emily.

She’s been a spitfire since the beginning. She tried to clean out the cat’s ears with a Sonicare tooth brush. She cut up a tablecloth to make a troll trap. She used Sharpie as lipstick. She was hell on tricycle wheels. She caught a frog at school and hid it in her book bag. She knows Smurfs aren’t real, but unicorns, fairies, the PfaffSquatch and The PfaffLoch Monster, pegasus, goblins, and trolls are very real. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know where Narnia is, but she thinks you can reach Wonderland through Grace’s closet. She’s written countless letters to Brad the Elf on the Shelf, and he writes back. For a time, she thought ponies were make believe. She had a stash of princess dresses, but she never really was a Disney fan. She once told me she was sick and tired of Elsa and Anna, and I don’t think she has ever played with a Barbie. She’s not a girly-girl; she’d rather be in shorts and a t-shirt and sneakers. But she needed to dress up for the today’s graduation ceremony, and instead of asking to go shopping, she raided my closet and chose one of my dresses. And just like that, my baby can fit into my clothes and looks better than I do!

For a long time, her natural habitat was the creek and the duck pond. Countless crawdads, lizards, salamanders, toads, frogs, turtles, and bugs have been “rescued ” from the PFT woods and waterways by Oh Emily and accommodated in critter cages, jars, tubs, and crates. With all that capturing and rehoming, I’m used to dirty feet and chipped, dirty fingernails. But last night Oh Emily came home from Kayleigh’s house with her nails freshly painted. And just like that, it seems she’s a refined, young lady.

She has been at Vienna since kindergarten, and we’ve been blessed with incredible teachers and school staff. Each one has helped grow my girl in different ways, strengthening her confidence, academics, and character. I’ve lost count how many of Oh Emily’s classmates and friends have hung out here at the house for play dates and sleep overs. And what I’ve learned from watching Grace and Lauren at the same stage, the friends she carries from elementary into middle school can make or break a young girl. All of the girls who have wandered through my house are welcome to come back anytime. Some of those girls will be going to different schools next year, and so just like that, some of those elementary friendships will fade away.

Between our 3 girls, we’ve had a collective 15 years at Vienna. So many field days, class trips, open houses, class supply lists, class T-shirts, homework, projects, book reports, take-home-Tuesday folders, sight words, math facts, report cards, lunch money, Tiger TV, permission slips, learning to play the recorder, packing lunches, picture days, yearbooks, and So. Much. Drama. Since the graduation ceremony was today, I was going to let Emily miss school tomorrow, but she wants to be there for her very last, very last day of Vienna. And just like that, Oh Emily will no longer be an elementary student, but once a Tiger, always a Tiger.

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