I’ve been a mother for 11 years today, as my big girl celebrates her birthday. 11 years ago I was still in labor, and I would hold my daughter for the first time that evening. She came out with her fist in the air, as if to say, “I’ve arrived! Let’s get this party started!” That’s her completely. She loves life. She loves to laugh and to make others laugh. She loves playing and joking and being a goofball, and she also takes life seriously (I have no idea where she gets that…) She is someone I would have definitely wanted to be friends with if I had met her when I was 11. She is super rad.
I can’t help but notice how young I look in this picture from when she was less than two months old. I can’t say exactly why I look younger, maybe it’s just knowing now how much was ahead on my motherhood journey in the years ahead, how much I had yet to learn and be cracked open from. Then, it was all just new. There was nothing except new motherhood: figuring out nursing, figuring out sleeping, getting our new rhythm as a family of three. Worrying about whether and when to vaccinate, when to start making my own baby food, ordering biodegradable bleach-free diapers when she wouldn’t lie still long enough to get a cloth diaper on, going to mommy-baby yoga and keeping my strength and weight on while nursing. It all seems to simple, but I know it felt incredibly complicated then.
I am grateful to my daughter. Through it all, she has always been my reminder of what motherhood is at its core, regardless of the circumstances and the sometimes winding, jagged path. She reminds me that it really does just come down to hugs. She reminds me that children of all ages need boundaries to push against in order to grow strong and in(ter)dependent. She reminds me that I am her safe place, her listening ear, her loving arms. She reminds me that I am (and I quote) “the best mom in the whole world,” that she wouldn’t want any other mom except me to be hers (and she has told me this on some of my worst mom days, when I have done a less-than-awesome job at keeping my cool and staying calm).
She is a good thing, and we are a good thing together.