Friday, June 7, 2013

For My Daughter on Her 3rd Birthday

My daughter turns 3 this week.  And I find myself, as I often do, reflecting on the person you are becoming.  Today I was agape at thinking about this.  You really are becoming a person, as opposed to that malleable piece of clay that I gave birth to such a short time ago.

You always had personality.  But you're becoming a real person now.  With independent thoughts, and you're fighting it every step of the way.  You hear the opposite of what I say, every. single. time. I. open. my. mouth.  You resist doing things independently because you're forlorn at the thought of not doing them with my help.  It's getting harder and harder to remember the philosophy "In your time, not mine".  When I see you, I see how much you are capable of, and how much you can already do, but when I press you to do anything without me, you reject the idea so violently that you worry me sometimes.  Your tears and your passion are equal to mine and your father's combined, and I worry how one day that may feel crippling for you.  It's a feeling I know too well.  It's impossible for me to figure out how to show you that you can be that passionate and independent at the same time...or better yet, be that passionate about doing things for yourself.

You make me laugh hysterically every single day, without fail.  From sighing and rolling your eyes as you tell me "Apparently, I need my Daddy" when I've asked you for the millionth time to please just pick up your damn spoon and eat your yogurt already.  To looking at me with a shine in your eye after you've finally gotten past the turmoil of getting up on a stool and sitting down on the toilet in time to pee on your own to say "You're happy now."  As if you telling me, makes it so.  And it sort of does.

Indeed while you suffer from single child syndrome (my name for what is otherwise known as the starved for attention spoiled brat with no siblings), you are in fact not overly spoiled by "things".  You are most definitely spoiled with love and attention.  Almost to your own detriment as you really have little desire to do anything ALONE.  You enjoy a cheering squad and a good fight...and absolutely every waking moment we're together, we are literally glued to each other with at least 3 parts of our body touching.  I do not have a child.  I have a spider monkey baby clinging to my body as I try in a futile way to swing from tree to tree, just to get a single damn chore done around this house.

You help me make dinner every night.  You sit on the counter, and help me put salad together.  We've made your birthday cake together.  You love to mix things and make the salad dressing.  You eat more than you make which is glorious while we're cooking.  I wish that translated to the table.  You want so much to start working over the stove or start using the knife during meal prep...again, these are a little beyond what is safe for you to do just yet, but when you prove to me you can do it all at the table, I'll be more open to letting you do more during meal preparation.

To celebrate you turning 3 and becoming a big girl, you're getting a party.  One that is in line with all the others.  One that shows just how precious and perfect and happy we are to have you in our world.  By most standards, it's large, by some, it won't be big at all.  But it is a celebration, and one that represents something bigger than just you, but actually celebrates our family as a whole.  Our family is made up of people who are born to us, and those parts of our family that we have chosen and inherited because in many ways they are as important in our lives as the others.  You will be surrounded by all the people we love the most and who love us dearest of all.  That can never be wrong.  And moreover, the thing I learned most clearly this year is that our birthdays should never really be about ourselves.  They should always and forever be a celebration of family and life and the immense change that comes from bringing a child into the world.  There is no greater and more beautiful change in the universe than this.

I know one day you'll be all grown up and reading these.  You'll think maybe I was a bit cookoo.  But I worry that I'll either be gone from this world when you're raising my grandchildren, or that I'll be in a home and not coherent enough to help you through what is hands down the most difficult thing in the world to navigate.  My hope is that in reading these, you'll be reassured you're not going through anything abnormal.  That you'll find some camaraderie with me as your parent.  That you'll be struck by a random piece of my thought and find a new way to deal with your own situation.  And that you'll forever have a part of me that belongs to no one else but you.

Being a parent is unlike absolutely every other identity known to humankind.  It's both a choice and a part of the human condition that affects your very genetic code.  I hope you take from these letters how life changes as a parent year to year, and how it stays remarkably the same.  The moment you become a parent, you can visibly, physically feel time in an ethereal flicker of blinding light that comes with absolutely no other experience you could ever have.  I imagine that the only other time in life you would have this type of out of body experience is when dying.  And so to be able to experience it, and live it and see it every day in the thing that brought it to you is beyond comprehension, even for the person who has had it.

I love you so much I could literally eat you and be ravenous for more.

Please keep hugging me so tight we could meld into a single being.
Please keep loving me the way you love me now so that when you tell me you hate my guts and want nothing more than to be alone, I'll have this to cling to.
Please keep smiling at me so brightly the world fades into nothing around me.
And Please show your daddy just even a fraction of the love you show me.  He doesn't understand why how you love him is equal but different for him, and he loves you just as much as I do.

My spider monkey baby.  My cup overflows knowing how unstoppable you will be, when you finally grasp a little of that independence I so desire for you.  And I am already in awe with the footprint you are leaving on this universe.  Not a single person meets you without being surprised and delighted by you.  If your Grandma were reading this she'd curse me for the pressure I appear to be placing on your tiny little shoulders, but what she wouldn't hear in this is how much liberation I am in fact wishing for you with these words instead.  The universe still makes me wonder at it.  I wish every day that I could do a million wildly different things, each one feeding a part of myself that starves for nurturing endlessly.  And that in itself is so wonderful, it's virtually impossible to describe.  EVERYTHING in this world is possible.  IT is ALWAYS POSSIBLE.  And that to me is food.  It's life.  It supplies everything my body and soul requires to thrive...and IT, my darling, is YOU.

And now I'm sobbing and it's time to sign off my letter.  I'm forever grateful to the universe for bringing me you.

With every ounce of my love and nothing spared,
Happy Birthday my darling Margaret.  

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