I remember holding Cate for the first time. For nine months I talked to my burgeoning belly, imagining what our child might look like and how she would sound. The night before Cate’s birth I decorated our Christmas tree and sang Christmas carols to her. By mid morning the next day, I finally got to look into her eyes, call her by name and say, “I am your Mom”.

I have honestly enjoyed every stage of parenting Cate: her as a newborn, a toddler, a school-aged kid and most recently a pre-teen. I’m not claiming it was all easy. There were of course the inevitable moments of exhaustion and frustration. In the early days she was my constant companion, quite literally attached to my hip. When school began it took some time to convince Cate that she could manage a morning in kindergarten without me. Slowly, and with a great deal of patience we both learned that getting over the threshold of the door was actually the hardest part. Once there, she flourished.

Cate is now a teenager and for the first time I am feeling what I have begun to describe as wistful. I’m enjoying this stage too; I just have a keen awareness that while Cate will always be our little girl, she’s actually now a young woman. Next week we will be attending her grade eight graduation. Every time I think about it I have pictures of little Cate floating through my head.

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While I was pregnant nobody could have prepared me for the reality of motherhood. It wasn’t until I held this tiny person in my arms that it sunk in: this is a human we are responsible for. Sometimes it feels like my heart is walking around on two legs. As Cate begins to make more of her own choices and has all kinds of experiences apart from us this feeling only intensifies. I long to protect her from heartbreak, but know that I can’t. I endeavour to be a mom that is present and she can confide in. I also pray for her incessantly.

It is a joy to watch Cate mature. She is compassionate and articulate. She fiercely loves her friends. She has a beautiful voice and is authentically humble about it. She loves to read and is rejuvenated by hanging out in a bookstore. She is a self-described old soul, while at the same time content to be her age. She is claiming for herself the same faith we hold. And so while I am admittedly wistful, I am even more proud. Cate, I love you and will always be your mom.