Five years ago tonight I was sitting on a bed, exhausted and confused. And exhausted. Really exhausted. Have I mentioned that?
Why? I was a mother. A brand new mother. Fresh from the delivery room with a whole new identity. Who had no clue how long to feed you and who couldn’t change a diaper fast enough to avoid being sprayed and who was desperately worried the nurses were going to get mad at me for keeping you in bed beside me. You were having none of your hospital-issued bassinet, but truth be told, I was only too happy to have you beside me where I could look at your or touch you or snuggle you any time I wanted.
You were perfect.
I counted the hours, marveling when you were 6 hours old, 12 hours old, 24 hours old – a WHOLE day! I couldn’t imagine what you’d look like when you were a week old, how long you’d be when you were a month old, what your smile would look like when you were six months old, what words you’d say when you were a whole year old. Five years wasn’t even a distant thought to me. It was incomprehensible!
And yet here we are!
Truth? I still count the days. We have already covered a quarter of the days we’ll probably spend with you living at home as a child. A quarter of it has gone! There are not even words to express how heavy that makes my heart. On the eve of your fifth birthday, Dad and I tucked you in and came downstairs and hugged each other while we cried. I whispered the only words I could muster. “It’s going too fast!“ And it is.
At least I think it is. You, on the other hand, told us tonight that it takes a long time to get to be a grown-up. It does. You’re right. I remember being a child myself and noticing how slowly time crawled – the time from one Friday to the next was an eternity, and the time between Christmases was like eternity a hundred times over. I couldn’t wait to grow up. I couldn’t wait to be in charge. I couldn’t wait to have my life be exactly like what I wanted.
You know what I wanted all those years ago? This. A husband who loves me and a child to mother. A house to keep us warm, a kitchen in which I could make tasty treats for us all to enjoy, and traditions and beauty that could fill our hearts and make us smile. Now that I have everything I wanted, the time moves more quickly. Much more quickly.
There will never be enough days. There will especially never be enough days with you. I want to be the best mom to you I can be, but everytime I think I figure something out you grow a little and change a little and I have to figure out my place once again. You keep me on my toes and are always at least a step ahead. This is made easier for you by the fact that it is not my natural inclination to let go.
That’s what I’ve learned about parenting. It’s a constant process of letting go, of encouraging independence, of working yourself out of a job. And truth be told, this is the only “job” I’ve ever had that I’ve loved this much. Most days I feel like I stink at it, but I feel infinitely blessed to be able to wake up the next morning and do it again. Not that I get much better at it. I try, but this is really hard work. Honestly, I feel just as confused today as I did that night five years ago while I sat on the bed and looked at you. I might even be more confused now than I was then. I remember looking at you all over and looking forward to the day when I’d “get” what I was supposed to do. I didn’t realize that the confused feelings only get bigger, not smaller.
I may be a little biased, but I believe your potential is limitless! This is one of the things about parenting that is so confusing. Your potential is so great and I don’t want to do anything to channel it in the wrong direction or put a lid on it prematurely. You have a determination unlike any I’ve seen anywhere – adult or child alike. Your negotiating skills are those of a finely honed arbitrator. You carry on conversations of freakishly adult proportions. You make plans with precision, with an eye for both the short term and long term. I wonder all the time what you’re going to be when you grow up, what kind of family you’re going to have, what kind of difference you’re going to make in the world. I believe the universe has a job for you that matches how important and extraordinary you are. I can’t wait to see what it is and I don’t want to miss a moment of you getting to that place.
I’m thankful for you. I so blessed to be your mom. What you bring to our family is so uniquely you, and I can’t imagine it any other way. Happy 5th birthday, baby!