It would be funny if the baby was born on 5/5/5, my sister said. And then my mother said it, and then my husband said it.
But the baby wasn’t born.
It would be funny if the baby was born on Mother’s Day, my sister said. And then my mother said it, and then my husband said it.
But the baby wasn’t born.
She waited a couple more days and then quietly, determinedly, at a little past midnight on a Tuesday night, she slid seamlessly into our lives.
The first time I went out with her on my own, 14 days later, armed with a stroller and a friend, I didn’t feel like a mother. Pushing a foreign object with a foreign person down the street, I felt like an imposter. Who would believe that I was this child’s mother, when I could barely believe it myself?
In the warm spring sun, we stopped for ice cream. I looked into the stroller, expecting to see a perfectly round, tiny head turned to the side, eyes closed in peaceful sleep. The face that stared back at me was a face that I knew I would never forget – almond shaped eyes gazed at me, observing; mouth closed in contentment. You know, I said silently to myself. You know that I am your mother and that you are safe. You are a wise little creature, and I will commit myself to you.
I will learn from you. I will love you.
My strong, silent infant grew into the silliest, funniest baby that I could have ever hoped might toddle into my life. She flapped her arms in excitement when she saw me, yelled at pigeons from her perch in her stroller or on my hip, and rubbed my arm as she fell asleep, safe in our bed, each night.
Our lives were mapped out in the phases of early childhood – Mummy Do It to Daddy Do It to I Do It; shy and reserved to ambitious but cautious to outgoing and brave. Our boundaries expanded and her world stretched out beyond the circumference of my protective arms.
She outgrew clothes and car seats; diapers and drop-ins. She became a big sister and a big girl literally overnight. She asked for a puppy named Thunderina.
This February, we found ourselves sitting in a classroom, introducing our daughter to the teacher she will have in Kindergarten next fall.
On Monday, she turns four.
She makes me laugh, and if I think about her too much, she makes me cry. Her world is becoming bigger than me, and I’m not sure if I can handle that gracefully. I try to encourage her burgeoning independence as much as I cling, so tightly, so gratefully, to the reminders that she is still so little; that she still needs me.
She still strokes my arm as she falls asleep, and as I brush her hair back from her forehead, I remember the perfect little face I found staring back at me when I peeked into a stroller almost 4 years ago. I allow all the tiny frustrations of motherhood to melt away, as a tear slips from eye and I recount the promise I made to my first-born child.
I will commit myself to you. I will learn from you. I will love you.
I will love you.