Today my eldest child turns 26.
This past year has been a curious time of crossing over. At her age I was working and gestating as her father finished college. Pictures of his graduation show me in an old-fashioned white dress, trimmed in lace, my belly huge and ripe in readiness. My father-in-law wisecracked that I looked like a pregnant bride.
When she was born I was scared out of my wits, overwhelmed with love and the immensity and gravity of keeping this tiny creature alive. My husband was a pragmatist who rightly coached that it was merely a matter of feeding and changing, of washing and watching. He was right, of course, in his concreteness. But I was also right in my fear. I could grow her, certainly. But I couldn't protect her. Not really. Not from the world and it's brutality, not from my own broken edges.
I could try, and I would try, but eventually even the most tightly wrapped cotton batting gets shredded and frayed, and turns gray and dingy. Sometimes the wrapper herself tears away chunks without meaning to, or without the ability to stop it, and weeps at the torn fibers clutched tightly in her fists.
Today is my lovely daughter's birthday. A day my sweet Dolce celebrates for me and with me. She sometimes buys me flowers. She always asks me questions as the hours progress.
"Has your water broken?"Today her questions were different though. She's spent some time with Kiera, but not very much. Not nearly enough. And so, she asked me:
"Are you having contractions?"
"Are you still crunching ice chips?"
"Are you guys similar?"And I am too. More than I can say.
"In a lot of ways I guess."
"Does she like makeup and lipstick?"
"Does she like wine?"
"Yes. And cocktails."
"Does she like strange people?"
"Yes. She collects them. They are attracted to her."
"I know she likes to write. She writes beautifully."
"Yes. She does."
"She's obviously smart."
"Is she hungry for God?"
"She's a truth seeker. She is hungry for truth."
"Does she like to wear dresses?"
"Yes. Sometimes. But she's self-conscious about her skinny calves."
"Is she kind?"
"Yes. And accepting. Remember? She loved working with troubled kids, and developmentally delayed adults. She taught life skills to autistic kids and was a night aid for a quadriplegic man."
"That's right! Is she funny?"
"Yes. Very funny. And silly."
"Well then. She's a lot like you. The world should be grateful to you for having her. I know I am."
The mystery of love and conception and birth and child-rearing and releasing and regretting and wishing and hoping is so complexly nuanced that it is foolishness to even try to convey it.
And so I won't.
Other than to say that I love you, Kiera Doodle. And I am honored to be your mother.