it’s become tradition for me on the eve of one of my children’s birthdays to sort of stay up all night. in the beginning, it was never intentional, but i’d re-read their birth story and that would open a flood of emotions. then i’d start to go through all of the beautiful photos of their face i’ve collected from the past year, or two or three and so on. somehow, it’d become midnight. then one, or two in the morning. and i’d go into their nursery room and hear them take deep breathes as they sleep, sometimes putting my hand on their back or kissing their cheek trying not to wake them but desperately wanting to hold them. always feeling a ridiculous number of tears rolling down my cheeks while doing so.
and so, it’s become a tradition to sort of stay up all night on the eve of their birthdays. it’s my own way of protesting them growing so quickly, hoping that maybe if i don’t go to bed, the next day won’t come just yet. the next big birthday. another year older. several inches taller. less baby rolls to squeeze but longer limbs that i can barely pick up to cradle.
eleanor’s birthday this year is especially difficult for me to wrap my head around. she’s my baby girl and today she is six years old. i remember the day she came into my life like it was just a few hours ago. the way she first stretched her fingers and toes, the color and smell of her skin and her puckered up swollen lips. i was exhausted and overwhelmed and hadn’t slept in over 30 hours but i remember it all. she came into my life and forever changed it. she gave me a new direction that was above and beyond what i had dreamed and prayed for. because just as every newborn baby is, eleanor was something special. eleanor is something special. and i felt the weight and responsibility to raise this strong daughter of God as best i possibly could, within those first few moments of meeting her.
i have to tell you that raising a daughter, as well as my two sons, in the current state of the world, scares the daylight out of me more often than not. i am both saddened and terrified at times to do so. i just want to keep them little, under my wing, within my protective walls as long as i can. but i know i can’t do that. even staying up all night long on the eves of their birthdays in my own personal protest to “never grow up” won’t stop them from growing up and leaving my mama nest someday. what i do know, and what i try to hold onto, is that my strongest conviction and the deepest desire of my heart is to raise my daughter to know kindness and love, to exemplify it and to share and spread it as far as she possibly can. i will make countless mistakes raising her, i already have. but i don’t take lightly the responsibility bestowed on me as a mother to raise her to know and exude the kindness and love we are all deserving of.
i am tremendously proud of the creative, intelligent, thoughtful and good human being she is becoming. she’s a six year old whose current favorite song is sabotage by beastie boys, who likes to eat a lot of ketchup, and who gives the best spontaneous hugs and kisses throughout the day to her family members. she is full of countless questions, gets so attached to her library books that she will return and check the same one back out in the same visit, and looks out for her two little brothers in a way that reminds me that there is good in the world. i am so very confident she will do great things in her lifetime, through kindness and love. i feel so fortunate to be her mother and for the lessons she has taught me in the six years i’ve known her.
eleanor, you are such a light. thank you for changing my world for the better six years ago, and for making these past six years the very best years of my life. i love you eternally, and will always be proud. happy birthday, beautiful girl.