Wednesday, November 21, 2007

happy birthday dear lily

Lily displaying the creative work of her father- her coveted birthday number pancake, now a double digit.

Ten years ago today i was alternating between screaming and crying, as I labored hard for over twenty-three hours (42 hours total) to bring my first child into the world. I can remember, as if it were yesterday, how amazing she looked to me, when they laid her on my chest, her familiar face and not-so-familiar curly black hair. It was in those moments that I was reborn- where all my disappointments in life suddenly disappeared, and I was given a second chance to shine. I had been granted a soul transplant, of sorts, where my primary source of life and meaning was suddenly circulating outside of myself and into another being.

And if I had any clue as to the painstaking hours, days, weeks, months, and years that were to follow, I may have at least thought twice about my decision to tread down this path. Though brilliant by virtue of its miraculous beginning, giving birth to new life and then holding it close, as it unfolds, is without a doubt, the toughest act of one's existence. Much like organ transplants, mothering involves a constant battle to keep the most selfish crevices of your person from rejecting this most selfless mission. Like a lioness with its infant cubs, you, guided solely by instinct, envelope your child, both physically and spiritually, protecting their well-being, while leaving that which is yours, so vulnerable and endangered. Sometimes it means walking closest to the curb next to a busy street, in case a wayward vehicle should hit the sidewalk. Sometimes it means sacrificing things that promise to bring you joy in order to fulfill the needs of your child. Sometimes it means sleepless nights while they scream from the pain of new teeth, tummy aches, or nightmares. Sometimes it means risking your reputation as you parent in ways that others may find radical or ridiculous. Sometimes it means you lose some friendships you counted on and family you trusted. Sometimes it means you cry for hours, wanting to ease the turmoil of your child who's been hurt by the insensitivity of others or by the expectations of our school system. Sometimes it means that you have a filthy floor, dirty toilets, and unmade beds, while you turn sommersaults on the grass. Sometimes it means that you eat chicken nuggets instead of chicken marsala for dinner and popsicles instead of creme brulee for dessert. Sometimes it means that the stack of books next to your bed were all written by a man named Seuss and the art on your walls is from crayon. Sometimes it means you wear thrift store shoes instead of Kenneth Cole's from Nordstrom, like you used to. And sometimes it means you must embrace letting go.

I watched my ten year old girl get dressed for school today. She had on slim designer jeans, a Hollywood jacket, and some Inuit inspired fashion boots gracing her legs just below the knees. Her curly hair, now a beautiful strawberry blonde, shone, as she brushed it without even a wince. And for nearly a second or two, I held her, smelling her skin, as my lips brushed her forehead, wanting to, once again, have the time to take all of her in- her life in my arms.
But she walks her almost seven-year-old brother to school every morning and she hates to be late. So I let her go...out the door...gazing at how her long legs take to the pavement...feeling no sorrow in my heart that she is no longer a helpless newborn at my breast...only pride that a fallable spirit such as mine could have turned out an amazing spirit such as her. She is all of my good intentions in life. She is all the beauty I ever hoped for. She is all the love I always hungered to feel. She Is, and I am forever a richer person because of this day, a decade ago.


laurie said...

came here by way of jen lemen at twitter and i'm so pleased i did. this is a beautiful post. lovely, deft writing about a potentially sentimental subject. congratulations on your 10th birthaversary. and thank you for sharing your words.

Jennifer/The Word Cellar said...

what a small world! i also came here via jen lemen's twitter post and then saw that you attend open door church. i live about an hour outside of pittsburgh and know john and alyssa creasy by way of a good friend from college. i like it when worlds collide like that! thanks for sharing such a lovely meditation on motherhood.

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Forty-three year-old, mother and staunch advocate of four young children, passionate warrior of truth and self, finding the soul in each day, sharing my struggles and triumphs as I live them. Mostly I do this for me, so my thoughts don't race as much at night as they used to. But I also give this to those of you who need to know, in any or every way, that you are not alone.

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