And he was.
Last month, both of my kids had birthdays. The Boy Child turned five, The Girl Child turned eight, and I cried, because as The Boy Child reminded me, “mommy, you don’t have any babies anymore!”
And he is right.
Neither of them are babies anymore, and from the length of their limbs to their ability to have a logical debate (read: argument) with me, I am constantly reminded of the independent people that they are becoming. People that are growing up before my very eyes, and beginning to distance themselves from the very life-saving tasks that they once relied on me to provide for them on a constant basis.
On one hand it makes me incredibly proud to look at them and know that I gave them life; that I provided well enough to sustain those lives, and that they will go on to lead their own lives that will hopefully make a positive impact on the world around them.
But of course the mommy in me wants to stop the world from turning so fast and take the time to just be. Just be with them and around them, and enjoy the moments that are passing before my eyes faster than I seem to be able to take them all in.
But I can’t do that, and so here I find myself, hanging on tightly for the ride of my life, and praying to God that wherever we are going, that it will all turn out alright.
And as I’ve done since before they were born, I sat down to write them a weekly letter to add to their books; a book of letters that I someday hope to pass onto them when the time seems right. A book that will share with them some very personal insights into how it was to raise them, love them, giggle with them, snuggle them, hurt with and for them, often fail in my parenting skills, and always, always cheer them on.
It's the book of our lives and the letters in our moments.
Typically my letters to them are based on goofy things they have said, the fun things we have done, the struggles that I encounter in raising them, and general updates to their life, but every year when their birthday’s roll around… well let’s just say that I tend to get a bit more sentimental.
Today, I invite you all to read one of the letters that God willing, my kids themselves will one day read when the time is right. This one was written to my daughter, and I'll warn you that it contains a lot of things that you have already heard me say on this blog and in my articles, but remember, this letter wasn't written for you, it was written for her, and all the feelings that I have shared with you in raising her, well now one day she will get to read them too.
I'll also be sharing a few un-blocked photos with you from when she was younger, which her and I have picked out for you today.
Enjoy, and thank you for being on this journey with us.
To My Beautiful Daughter,
Tonight I sit here on the eve of your 8th birthday, and I find myself starting to tear up before I can even think of what I want to write.
Eight. You are eight.
You were not an easy baby, in fact you drove me insane. You cried from the minute the sun came up until the minute that it set, and all those dark hours in between, well you cried during those too.
And it killed me, because as a first time mother, I thought that maybe I was failing you. Colic my ass, I was sure that I was doing something wrong, and after being raised by a mother who did not seem destined to be a parent, I wondered if I was repeating some sort of genetic mistake in a long line of women who should have never been parents.
Maybe this mothering gig really wasn’t for me after all.
But you were here and there was nothing I could do about that now, just like there was nothing I could do about the overwhelming love that I felt towards every fiber of your being. Exhausted, weary, teary, and broken, I didn’t know anything, except that I loved you.
Oh how I loved you.
And so I did the only thing that I could think to do, and I decided to live moment to moment. The future seemed so overwhelming that I simply couldn’t process looking that far ahead, not on 1.3 hours of sleep, milk seeping through my shirt, pants that were begging to be worn by a body 23lbs lighter, and the constant fear that I was failing you.
No, the future was much too much, so we lived in the moment. And somehow, some way, all of those moments have strung themselves together, creating a bridge to where we are now; Eight years later.
And I have failed, oh how I have, but we haven’t stopped in those moments; we haven’t dwelled on them. I don’t always know what I’m doing, but neither do you, so together we’ve manage to pull something together that has landed us where we are today, and in this place, I think we are OK.
You are nothing short of amazing.
You are funny, witty, sarcastic, head strong, artsy, goofy, tenderhearted, and compassionate. You love your brother with such a protective fierceness that it makes me proud to call you my own, because I see how naturally you care for him, and it makes me think that just maybe, maybe you learned that from me.
Maybe I haven’t been failing you; maybe we have just been growing together. You’re learning to be a kid, and I’m learning to be a mother to one, and together we are doing it. We are making it. We are surviving, and we are thriving. And what I’ve learned through a lifetime of raising you, is that I don’t need all the answers.
In fact, I don’t need any of them.
Because although I set the boundaries and try to guide you in the right direction, it is you is choosing your path, and it is I who is following behind. Although it may appear that I am leading the way, my daughter, I am following you. I spent a lifetime waiting to hold your hand, and as soon as you were able, you wriggled out of my grip.
You wanted to see the world, and when I pointed to the sky, you decided you could fly.
I have so many dreams for you, so many hopes, and fears, and everything that comes in between, and while no matter how much I want to choose your path for you, I understand that I can’t.
This is your life.
You get to choose.
Baby girl, you are eight, and although you are tiny in stature, your impact on this world is great. You have more power than you can ever imagine and you my dear, you get to choose what to do with that.
This is your life, your path, and the only role that I get to play in it, is to be supportive.
So I’m here. I will always, always, be here, and I will never, ever leave you. I don’t have all the answers and I won’t pretend that I do, but you don’t have them either, so let me stay, because whatever path you choose, I’ll be here to help you figure it out.
Eight years down, and a lifetime to go.
We can do this babe, moment by moment until they all just blur together over the course of a lifetime.
Happy 8th birthday to the baby who changed my life, gave me purpose, and stole my heart.
You are amazing.
You are precious, you are smart, and you are beautiful.
Don't let anyone tell you differently and don't ever forget it because you are loved.
Please join me next time to read The Boy Child's birthday letter.