Every mother, no matter how many children she has, knows the enormity of the gift she has been given in the form of her first child. That first baby makes us mothers, and there is nothing more precious or more transformational. It’s a gift we share with our future children, who add to it and enhance it and who share equally in our love. But it is our first child who gives us the gift of motherhood.
My first baby, the one who made me a mother, turns 8 today.
I remember the first time I held her with remarkable clarity, and with the same welling up of emotions I felt then. She was tiny – full term, but only five pounds – and swaddled like a burrito. She opened her eyes to me right away and as I met her gaze, her lower lip pushed out into a pout and an expression of bewilderment came over her face. I remember thinking that it must have been tough for her; that everything she had ever known had changed in an instant.
If I could distill my becoming a mother into one single moment, it would be that one. Not because it was the first time I held her in my arms, but because it was our first time experiencing the world together.
Looking back over the last eight years, the best moments of motherhood have been exactly that– sharing the experience of the world around us. And I have been so lucky to have such an incredibly cool person to share these moments with.
My girl is deep. She’s complicated. She’s tough and persistent as hell and one of the most sensitive people I’ve ever known. She wakes up in the middle of the night worried about growing up and dying. Life can be a little too big for her sometimes. She is like me in so many ways that I can almost feel my own fears and insecurities within her. Sometimes, that scares me.
She is a one girl justice league, and if I have to tell her a dozen times a day that life is not and never will be fair, I’m proud that she has a strong sense of equity. She gets angry quickly and thoroughly, but her temper is matched many times over by the strength and fullness of her love.
She tells us stories, with chapters and in series, but she doesn’t have the patience to write them down. There are times when her creativity astounds me.
She takes people as they are, for who they are, which is a rare and precious quality I hope she never loses. Over the years, I’ve imagined her growing up to fill a number of different exalted professions — a famous writer! a dolphin trainer! a CEO! — but as I come to know her better, I think she would change the world as a teacher of students with special needs.
She is a proud Hufflepuff and will not tolerate bullies, but she slayed as Cruella DeVil in her drama class play.
I love this kid beyond words. She made me a mother and she gave me the gift of herself. She’s not my baby any more, but I am overwhelmingly grateful that she is my girl.