As I read "mommy" blogs, I come across many women writing birthday wishes and letters to their children. Many of them describe the moment they first saw their babies - the awe, the wonder, the beauty, the hope all bundled and their own.
I do remember the awe. Your beauty. I do remember, very vividly, the way your spanking new presence brought immense hope. What I wonder, though, is what you saw when you laid your eyes on me.
The euphoria is a must, there is no way you could have missed that, my baby. But did you also feel my fear? My insecurities? I wanted to promise then and there that I would always be there for you, to protect you and to love you and shield you from all the evil and terrible things that happen in life. It came naturally, I had read it in countless books and heard about it in many many songs, and it "fit." But with that "job" came the burden of intense responsibility, the fear of making mistakes - and believe me, I am a sucker for mistakes, and I made many many of them, still do and it's nowhere near ending - but when you're making mistakes that affect yourself, they're easier to shoulder and quicker to recover from. When I realized, the moment you were in my arms, that my mistakes from then on would draw the lines of your future, the ugly face of fear bared its teeth and paralyzed me.
In a few hours time, I got a grip - I controlled how I fed you, how I put you to sleep and who got to be in my room and who needed to stay out. Mind you, only your both grandmothers and aunt were there other than your dad, but for those very few hours, the two of us were all I needed. I guess I was prepping myself for the many years that we would spend together, just the two us, learning from each other.
As days went by, my fear subsided because we lived right by the New York Public Library. If there is someone keeping track of the books people check out and then makes fun of them cracking up at their ineptitude, I would come first with all books on breastfeeding, sleeping, Ferberizing, Weissbluthizing, co-sleeping, pacifier use, discipline, food, and any and every label the library of congress has on childcare. Knowledge gave me the fuel to go on, the mistakes I made and read about uplifted me with the confirmations of the right steps I took and I felt I was doing a pretty good job of being a mom.
You turned me into a patient and easygoing woman - the neurotic, intolerant, and rigid side of me subsided and I happily catered to your every whim, every twenty minutes for the first few months of your life. Another thing that kept me going was my love for mystery novels and I promise when I have a billion dollars I will surely donate some of it the NYPL for keeping me awake those hours of the night.
Anyways, baby, here I am, a mommy blogger, writing my first happy birthday post for you, and believe me, the awe, the wonder, the hope, all of it, continues even more than I first saw you, soaring with every day you grow. Happy birthday. I will always love you.