The first thing I remember about you was that you were a girl. The second thing I remember was that your face and eyes were really puffy and you were scared. All the same could have been said about me.
I remember Daddy saying “I think she has blue eyes!” while the nurses were taking your measurements.
You were such a gentle force. It made sense you were born in the rain. When I saw you, I remember thinking of this geyser Daddy and I saw in Yellowstone called Mammoth Hot Springs. No one could have prepared me for what a wonder it was. I hoped I’d be enough for you.
I don’t remember what it felt like to be stitched up; don’t remember what time it was; don’t remember the doctor’s face before she left. I only remember that you needed me even though I had never felt so useless. Then I remember the weight of you on my chest and the weight of my love for you; how it burrowed inside of every part of me and came out as tears.
You were born charismatic and curious, determined.
So much of our first year together for me was about accepting the things I couldn’t control and probably never will. So much of your first year was about the strength of love and how it shapes us, like how the waves change the beach over and over again. So much of this year was about me trying to understand why we were crying. I think I’ve got you figured out now, but that probably means you’re ready to change it up on me again. I saw a hint of that yesterday when I realized you wanted to put your own shoes on.
I could list off all of the things that made this first year of your life hard: colic(?), cancer, depression, but the story isn’t those words or experiences, it’s what came from them.
I hated my body for not being good at breast feeding. I didn’t think I’d make it two months. Then I didn’t think I’d make it to four or six and now here we are and I’m wondering how we’ll stop.
I didn’t realize I’d have so much growing up to do once I had a child; didn’t realize what it meant to truly be exhausted; didn’t realize how much I could do myself; didn’t realize how accustomed I’d become to attaching a machine to my boobs; didn’t realize how many times I’d check on you and kiss you and just want to be near you even when I just wanted to stare at my phone and drink wine.
You will hopefully never remember your Aunt Maddie having cancer or being snuck into the hospital to cheer her up; never remember the sound I made when I heard the news, like a dying water buffalo or someone whose foot got run over by a train. You will only see the pictures from her end-of-chemo party and feel the way your family appreciated life and each other and you better.
I’m sitting here thinking, how is hot again already? All the fans are on, just like they were last summer when you were new here. How are we about to celebrate your birth-day already?
How is that I want it all over again? The surge of you coming to me and making me so much more alive than I’ve ever been? There are so many things designed to give people that feeling like wasabi and rollercoasters and racing towards a line, but there is nothing like the rush of being loved by you.
I know so much will change over time. Your shoe size, your interest in being in the carrier, your bed, your favorite songs, your home, but that light I first saw in your eyes? I know I’ll see that forever.
I love your little gap teeth and how you accidentally whistle sometimes when you’re busy. I love the upside down moon shape your eyes make when you’re really happy, and selfishly I really love when your eyes squint up that way when you see me. One of the best things is knowing that you really see me and are still happy with what’s in front of you. I love that far-off look you get when you’re putting your world together, like today when you heard the neighbor’s dog barking and the train whistle.
I could say I carried you since I knew you; your little hands and feet and soft, soft tummy, your bubbly lips; but the truth is you have carried me too.
I haven’t cried at expected, “appropriate” times since you were born and now, here I am, nursing you, crying about all you are and all we’ve become together.
I love you always my magic, magic girl.
Happy birthday (officially tomorrow at 3:39pm:)!