On the occasion of your birthday
Five years ago today I was in labor. The gremlin, as I called her then, was a week late. When she came out, her eyes were wide open, as if to say, “Hello world! I have arrived!”
She was so alert and so engaged from day one it seemed like that’s all anyone commented on.
True to form, she hasn’t slowed down. Every single morning her eyes pop open and she’s a ball of squirmy muscle. She blazes through her day with a fire in her belly. Every night she moves and rummages around in her bed, like a hedgehog burrowing a hole, expending every last bit of energy she didn’t seem to get out during her action packed day. She passes out mid sentence, usually, “But I’m not tired!” Around 2 a.m. she finds her way into the big bed and squeezes into whatever nook she can find on my body, which is sometimes a challenge if her brother beat her to the nightly pilgrimage.
It’s these nights I love the most. The only time she’ll every really stop moving and allow me to hold her close, folding her into my body, burrowing my face into her neck, and falling back asleep with my people piled around me. Of course by the end of the night it’s not so beautiful as the children, inevitably, take over.
She is a tornado.
You know how they say, “the days are long but the years are short”?
With her everything is short.
At some point in her life someone will tell her she is too much. Too fast, too loud, too silly…I fight like hell to not be that person. One of my biggest fears is that she will be smothered by this world, chewed up and molded into a half semblance of the person she came out of my body being.
I blinked and now she’s five.
FIVE?! How have I been a mother for five whole years?
Don’t get me wrong, I feel like I’m 100, likely attributed to the level and quality of sleep I’m getting. I lay in bed at night, one tiny foot poking into my neck, another tiny, snoring body draped across me, Matthew’s feet, interlaced with mine, and I panic, not just about the stresses that come with owning a goat dairy, but also that I’m not raising these children to be the best kind of humans. Humans that are kind, but not pushovers; generous, but not wasteful; hard-working, but not workaholics; stubborn, but not to the point of stupidity.
I have conversation after conversation with different aged versions of my children on the incidence of their first big lie, their first brush with alcohol, their first speeding ticket, their first date, their first real failure…
Here’s what I say:
You are loved, wanted, and needed.
Your ideas are brilliant, but it’s the work you will do to implement them that really matters.
Your body is yours, and yours alone. Who you choose to share it with is also your choice. But at no point does any contract you enter into with anyone force you to relinquish control of your body.
I’m going to say it again.
Your body is yours, and yours alone. Anyone who doesn’t agree with this will have one hell of a fight on their hands.
I will always fight for you. I will fight for your safety, your security, and your happiness.
But I will not fight all your battles. Some things you will need to figure out on your own. A horse that doesn’t listen, a bad grade on an exam, a disagreement with a friend…these are yours.
Every time you have your own success you’ll feel yourself growing stronger, more confident…by the time you leave this farm I know you will be an unstoppable force.
And even though I know you will leave, I hope you know, you can always come home.
I will always be your biggest fan and your biggest cheerleader.
I will never stop encouraging you to be creative: to draw, to paint, to sculpt. As long as I have money, I will continue to buy you all the tape, glue, and markers you can “art” with.
In our family, the greatest compliment we give each other, is to say, “I love you, weirdo.”
I hope you always love being a weirdo. Even if you go through a phase when this doesn’t seem like something you want to embrace, I need you to know, I will probably have to over-exaggerate my weirdness to make up for it. Someday you will thank me for this.
In the end, my sweet daughter, every single day, you make me proud. I cannot believe I get to be your mother, but thankfully, someone saw fit for me to raise you…and for that I am eternally grateful. I promise, promise, promise, to try my best to never let you down. And if I do, I promise that I will absolutely own up to it.
Because, for the last time, your opinion and your thoughts are infinitely important and meaningful. Anyone who doesn’t value them has no place in your world.
You fill my cup.
And my cup runneth over.