A/N: Hey there! Happy Mother's Day all! It's a strange one this year, but it's also a special one because we've all spent SO MUCH TIME WITH OUR KIDS IN THE PAST FEW WEEKS!

Anyway, let's leave it at that. ;)

I was originally going to post this as a one-shot tomorrow, but…it might be too long for a one-shot. So, I've decided to post the intro today, and then I'll post the rest, one a day, for the next few days. It's all written out, so no long waits involved.

Enjoy the rest of your day, my loves, moms, and not moms alike. We're all special women. ;)

STAGES - Summary:

In eight distinct sketches of growth, including the fights, arguments, and misunderstandings that usually accompany each stage, watch how the little girl next door went from being the bane of my existence…to being the most important person in my existence. ExB. AH.


When I was four, my mom, Esme Cullen, landed her dream job as a high-school principal. Having been too young at the time to remember much of it, I'm told that it was, up to that point, the pinnacle of a proud, successful career as a fervent educator, an organized administrator, and a dedicated mentor. What's more, she was the youngest individual and the first female, who this particular high school had ever hired as principal, which made her a shatterer of glass ceilings of sorts. The fact that the high school where this dream job was located happened to be in a tiny, ultra-rainy, bumfuck town in the middle of nowhere was, to her, a minor inconvenience.

So Mom packed up her family of three – she, my dad, and me – and moved us from the diverse, Midwest metropolis of Chicago, Illinois – by the way, the third most populous city in the U.S., home of the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field, deep-dish pizza, and Al Capone – and twenty-two-hundred miles further northwest to…Forks: population three-thousand, two hundred that year. Had I realized what was happening, I would've undoubtedly put up a hell of a fight. As it was, once I grew old enough to understand the massive injustice done to my cultural enlightenment, the move became a running contention between my parents and me.

Before it starts sounding like I was a miserable asshole while growing up in Forks, let me assure you, that wasn't the case. Though my plan was always an eventual return to my Chicago roots, I had some great damn times growing up – a detail that was undeniably helped along by the fact that Mom and Dad did me at least one real solid when they uprooted me from the home of innovative architecture to the home of…timber.

You see, when they moved me to Forks, they bought the house next door to Mr. and Mrs. Swan.


"Look, Edward, that little boy playing next door looks about your age! Let's go say hi!"

The above two lines often play themselves in my head like elaborate, dramatically spoken movie lines, most likely because they're not so much a memory as an imprint on my brain from having heard Mom and Mrs. Swan repeat the lines, and their accompanying story, ad nauseum.

"Renee, remember when we all first met?"

"Of course I do, Esme. It was the third week of September, and…"

The rest of that story accompanies a narrative that goes a little something like this:

"Hi, my name is Edward Anthony Cullen. I'm from Chicago. What's your name?"

"I'm Emmett Swan, and I'm from heuh."

"But what's your middow name?"

"Mom! Mom, what's my middow name?"

"You don't have a middle name, Emmett sweetie. I couldn't think of a middle name that would be as great as your first name."

"I don't have a middow name cuz my first name is too cool alweady."

"But I have a middow name, and my first name is still cool. Right, Mom?"

"Yes, Edward, honey; everyone's name is special, regardless of whether they have one or two names."

"See? My name is speshow too. I'm faw. How old ah you?"

"I'm faw too."

"Mom! Mom, he's faw like me, even if he doesn't have a speshow middow name! My bohthday is June twenty. When's your bohthday?"

"My bohthday is June twenty-six!"

"Oh, my God! Mom, his bohthday is June too!"

"I think we'd better introduce ourselves, since it seems our sons will be here for a while. I'm Esme Cullen. This is my husband, Carlisle, and our son, Edward."

"Hi, I'm Renee. This is my husband, Charlie, and our little boy, Emmett. It's great to meet you all. We've heard a lot about you. Doctor Cullen, you'll be the new principal at Forks High, and you, Doctor Cullen, will be the new internal medicine physician at Forks General. Sorry, it's a small town, and you're both big news."

"That's fine. In that case, I'll admit that we know a bit about your family as well. When Mrs. Newton showed us the house, she used the fact that it was next door to an elementary school teacher, who was married to the chief-of-police, and who had a four-year-old playmate for our son, as huge selling points."

"I'm so glad those selling points worked! And we've added another selling point since."

"So, I see. She's beautiful. Congratulations."

"Thank you. So, Edward, you've met Emmett, and this…"

Again, I'm not entirely sure whether what followed is an actual memory, or, if considering all that came afterward, the brushstrokes of time and growing significance painted a picture on what might've otherwise remained a blank canvas. This moment, this beginning of her…became a childhood beginning of us, one I could carry with me – once I learned to appreciate its value.

What I think I recall is Mrs. Swan's proud grin as she carefully knelt between Emmett and me, pulled back one end of the pink blanket she held, and revealed…

"This is Emmett's baby sister, Bella."

"Does she have a middow name?"

"Yes, she does. Her full name is Isabella Marie Swan. She was named after her great-grandma, who recently went to heaven."

"My great-grandma went to heaven too! Was she sick like my great-grandma?"

"No, honey. She was very old and in the last stage of a long and rich life. So, we honored and celebrated that life by giving Bella her name."

"Mm. Bella Marie looks too tiny to be real. And she's too still and quiet."

"She's just fooling you, Edwahd! She's not still and quiet at night when I'm twying to sleep!"

"Aw, Emmett, sweetie. Boys, Bella is tiny because she's in her newborn stage, the very first stage of life. She's only a week old, where babies just cry and sleep."

"She sounds boring."

"I suppose she does. But you see, you and Emmett are in your pre-school stage, where you do much more. But as the three of you grow, and despite your different ages and stages, I get the feeling that you'll all be the best of friends forever."

Mrs. Swan was mostly right.

A/N: Thoughts?

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Posting again tomorrow. :)