Monday, January 25, 2016

Sleepless in Morocco

I am sleepless in Morocco.

Today our baby turns 25.

Kelsey is our oldest child.
Our firstborn.
Our girl.

Kelsey--or as she preferred to be called when she was 4 and usually sporting a pink tutu, "Princess, Barbie, Kelsey Christine, Clarice, Be My Guest, Beauty Belle Fish" or some variation of that long string of titles--has never lacked in style. Even at 4, Kelsey was defining herself and making a name (or multiple names!) for herself.

Kelsey was an early birthday gift to me 25 years ago in that military hospital in Seoul, Korea. My birthday is two days after hers and holding our newborn girl, I was grateful for her and full of hope for what she would become. Even in my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined half of what Kelsey has accomplished already. Kelsey is in Morocco on a Boren Fellowship doing graduate research for her Masters in Global Communications from George Washington University. Our spunky girl moved to Morocco on her own in September and has made a life for herself from scratch--and it's a sweet life full of friends, travel and experiences she will never forget. What's even more amazing is that this is not her first foray into living abroad.

Starting her freshman year at The College of William & Mary, Kelsey lived in Beirut, Jordan, Berlin and Morocco (the first time for a summer, where she studied Arabic in a program sponsored by The State Department). With each of these relocations, she hopped a plane alone and created a life for herself. The shy girl who would have her younger brother, Cory, go ask for ketchup for her at a fast food place because she was too afraid, has found her voice and conquered her fears.

So that's how I find myself in Morocco.

I find myself sleepless because I want this moment to freeze. I am remembering a time when my mom came to visit me in Alabama and my husband, Tony, was away. Kelsey and Cory, were young. My mom and I shared our king-sized bed and giggled like school girls and even then I knew that those days were special. As I enjoy this week-long slumber party with our girl, I just want to cherish every second. We are making promises to always celebrate our January birthdays together with some dedicated "Girl Time." I will hold us to those promises.

What I remember most about that day 25 years ago in Korea is how over-the-moon happy I was holding our sweet girl. I wanted to freeze time then too.  Seeing all that Kelsey has become I am glad time marched on. While I find myself wistfully wanting to freeze time again, I know Kelsey's story is not finished yet and mine isn't either. I can't wait to see what our beautiful, smart, kind girl will accomplish next.

Happy Birthday, Princess.


But wait, there's more...

I haven't written a blog post in months. My writer daughter inspired me to get going again!  Cathy Jones, Sheryl Ellis and Heather Conroy have also encouraged me to charge on. Strong women are amazing. Thank you to all the strong, loving women in my life--especially the birthday girl.


  1. Awesome Judy! Beautiful tribute!

  2. Loved this post so much, and all the pictures (especially the princess one of course!) I still can't believe it's been 25 years since I got that call in the middle of the night from Korea telling me she'd been born. She was the first baby I ever fell in love with - and I'm so proud of her!