They went by in the blink of an eye.
I am in shock, laying here, remembering.
The morning that those two little pink lines appeared. The fear, the excitement, and the question of “NOW?”
We had nothing.
No home, no furniture. No real roots yet, nor any stability. At least, not the kind that a baby needs to thrive and grow, but still, you were on your way.
Having been told we would not be able to have a baby without thousands of dollars, and many new scientific procedures, I had put family planning on hold. After all, I was only 21 years old. There was plenty of time to worry about all of that later.
I was barely older than you are now when you became a reality.
You gave me serious heartburn.
The kind of heartburn where I was guzzling Maalox daily, yet still craving spicy foods. You were barely the size of a bean, and yet the energy it took to carry you still defies reason. I slept for hours, day and night.
As you grew, the excitement grew with you. Suddenly, that small little bump was large enough that others were taking notice. I may have even arched my back a bit, hoping others would see that small mound that I was so proud to be carrying.
There were challenges, of course.
Nothing in life is perfect…except you.
I didn’t know if you were a girl or a boy, and I didn’t really care. I assumed in my childlike naivete that you would be a boy because that is how babies are born..boys first, then a girl. I didn’t know what to do to plan for a girl. I was hardly the girl-kind of mom.
I had no idea what I was doing, or even how to prepare for you. Yet, I loved you.
You came into the world, unwillingly.
You were late. So late that the doctors decided to do whatever it would take to get you to make an entrance.
Your stubbornness almost killed us both.
At 22 years old, I held my perfect child in my arms, forgetting all the heartburn, the stretch marks and the intense pain of the last 24 hours, staring in awe and wonder at the tiny creation that lay before me. I had never known such love!
I wanted to be the perfect mother for you.
I read every book on child development, and stages and phases. I made all the baby foods from scratch, joined Mommy and Me classes. I wanted to be perfect for you.
I had no family to help, besides your father. He seemed to comprehend that my inability to change poopy diapers did not mean I was inept at other tasks, just that I gagged easily. I was jealous at how easy he made it look, while I fretted constantly about every little thing.
Your smile was infectious…it still is.
I loved being at home with you those first two years.
You were so sweet. Many people would stop to smile at you, as your face lights up and your spirit would shine through. Your energy was contagious. Those little legs carrying you beyond the trail ahead of me, little brown piggy tails swaying with each step. Every so often you would glance back at me, making sure I was still nearby. Yet, you have never needed me. You just needed the assurance I was there.
You have always been fierce.
You walked into daycare, and onto the kindergarten bus, into each new school and into the final years of high school on your own. With one glance back, to see if I was still watching, you smiled and waved.
I doubt you noticed each of those milestones, but I did.
I had no idea how fast these years would go by. If I could go back and do it all over again, I would. All the sick days, the temper tantrums, and the teenage fights. I would go back and re-live each day, just to cherish each of the moments more.
I had no idea ALS would come into our world.
For that, I am sorry.
I am sorry that these last seven years have been with a mother that is tired, and stressed, and not always attentive.
All those times you waited, or the many times I put you off to the side, because someone needed my help. You had to learn how to wait for my attention. Between the two little ones, the divorce and then ALS, you have sat patiently waiting for my attention.
If I could go back, do better, and be more for you, I would.
You are fierce.
You are just coming into adulthood, with an entire lifetime of memories to build. I am excited to see who you will become.
I am learning to sit back and watch. You have never wanted my advice, always choosing to do things on your own terms and on your own timeline.
You will make mistakes.
And I will still love you.
You will face unimaginable trials and challenges along the way.
I will still love you.
You have not found your passion yet. The spark that drives a person forward. My passion found me, and I have a feeling yours will find you. When it does, I know that you will be loyal to what ever that cause may be. You will tackle it with intensity and drive.
But for today, I will sit here, and remember the baby I held in my arms. The perfect child that came to me at just the right moment.
Today, I will remember all the sweetest of moments that you gave to me, and I will cherish them that much more. Because I know that the next 20 years will go by even faster.
Stay fierce, baby girl.