May 5th 1996. 20 years ago. On this day one of the most influential people in my life was born and I didn't even know it. I do not know what she weighed or who was in the room but I know her momma, like me, was a struggling teen mom wondering what life was all about and how she was going to parent as the girl we both would love was learning how to breathe in and out. 20 years ago that baby's life and mine were were scheduled to intersect but not until we each faced our own demons in the eye, stared them down and decided that we weren't going to do what had been done before.
It would take nearly 14 years to meet in real-life and we've each faced struggles since then but from the moment I "read" her story I knew we were meant to be. She jumped into my heart the night she jumped out my window and whether I gave birth to her or not, whether I felt her move inside me, or watched her take her first step, or have her first day of school or not, she is my girl.
I remember the first time I saw her, sitting on a bench, face down on her phone. I remember her first birthday with us (her 13th) at the Beckwith's bible study, I remember her first cake (with us) a Tres Leches, and her first pair of footie pajamas (yes they were leopard print). I remember her 8th grade recognition and the Badger's big hugs as well as her dad's and mine. I remember the day she was taken from our house and the days, weeks and months of anguish not knowing where she was or if she was OK. And oh how I remember that FB message asking to come home, and how her dad and I moved heaven and earth to be sure she could come back to us! I remember her graduation that she worked so hard to earn and achieve on time despite her time away from school. And I'll never forget the day my baby girl welcomed her very own baby girl into the world. I treasure our firsts and look forward to a lifetime more! She's been my daughter, now I'm happy to say she's one of my closest friends too!
She's not a teenager anymore but a 20 something, living a good, honorable life. She is the kind of teen mom her mother and I should have tried to be. She loves her daughter with all she is and does what it takes to keep her girl safe and cared for. She is a good woman, a great daughter, a wonderful wife and a most amazing mama! I am so proud of her and on this, her big 20 I wish her all the best in the world. I pray the LORD will bless and keep her as she walks in the ways that are good and right for her and her family. So, Matea... HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! LOVE YOU LITTLE LADY!