This struck a chord, so I had to share.
I grew up in Alberta’s multi-coloured prairies and spent much of my youth skiing, hiking, paddling, rock climbing in the Rocky Mountains.
Eventually, I migrated to the city and I stayed there.
I miss the mountains. I miss fresh air. I miss open space. It’s just not natural to be underground so much. I might skip the city with my bean for awhile just to watch her run in the grass.
I think the happiest I’ve been as a near adult was witnessing all of this stuff all over again as a camp counsellor at the YWCA. Now that I’m a parent, I get to witness it all over again. Again. There is a lot we can learn from the young ‘uns.
It was in those early moments, the ones where I stared at my fat cheeked babe swaddled tightly, sleeping soundly beside me in the hospital bed, when I knew motherhood would be a complex mashup of emotions.
This little person—an alien, a stranger—evoked in me feelings that were far more intense, more primal, than anything I’d ever felt before. It was fierce, protective love. Intoxicating love. I wanted to inhale this little being, drink every bit of her in.
Almost inexplicably connected to that love was panic.
That’s the little bundle of nerves that exists in the back of most mother’s minds and jumps to the forefront at the most inopportune times: when you’re just about to drift off to sleep, the moment you step down the top stair with babe in arms, when you’re taking a left hand turn. It’s the “what if”—the thing that drives us to check if our child is breathing while they’re sleeping, to suddenly buy all organic everything, hover like a helicopter around the sandbox, or attack our husbands for not having the house fully childproofed when the baby rolls over for the first time.
Every ounce of me that wanted to be that cool, collected mom with the funky sling and the “she can fit into my life, not vice versa” attitude, was shoved to the background when a new person picked up Everleigh and my brain and body screamed, “Give her back to me! Give her back. Right now. Give her back!”
Aside from hormones, which are a part of it, I suspect as new moms we want to control everything so that we will never have to suffer the pain of losing an ounce of what we are now responsible for. Once I understood why we are completely nuts came the arduous task of letting go. The responsibility of caring for a dependent child demands allowing that child a healthy dose of independence—often materializing in scrapes, bruises, hurt feelings, and the list goes on.
I’ve been going out for a post-work cocktail once in awhile. I’ve been letting E climb up the slide without being a half inch away from her in case she falls. I’ve been taking a step back.
It’s getting easier.
The numbers on the clock changed, and just like that I was another year older. I don’t put a lot of weight on birthdays, but this one—this one—felt different.
Over the past four years, maybe longer, probably longer, I have been lost in a love I wanted so badly. Dizzy in the purchase of a home—the framework for building memories, a family. Then, we did build a family; and I became drunk on the birth and life of our child, our Everleigh Rose.
When fifteen glorious months spent breathing in sweet milky baby breath, holding tiny fingers, staring into those heartbreakingly beautiful brown eyes passed, I lost myself in my desperation to make up for time spent away from her, within the confines of corporate life. I was blind to anything—everything—else.
But I am awake now. The thing that’s been gnawing at me for some time has emerged, and it’s hungry. To become the best role model for my daughter, the one she needs me to be in this mixed up world, I can no longer stifle my own dreams. My passions large and small have been put aside, ignored and all but forgotten for far too long. Today is a new day.
Happy birthday to me. There are adventures around the corner.
1. My birthday mug, courtesy of the artist herself (with some help from my Dad)
2. E taking cupcake decorating to a new level (with a little help from her Oma)
3. The finished, and most delicious, products
4. My inspiration; enjoying a picnic lunch on a balmy March 18th day
This is our parenting style, you guys. Read: Saturday night out on the town with the hubs. We do this sometimes.
As your legs lengthen, your hair thickens, your vocabulary expands and you become more skilled at almost everything, it becomes clear to me that you are no longer a baby.
But you are still my baby.
As fiercely independent as you are at two and a half, you still melt into me in the morning when I pull you into bed with me; you still let me nuzzle you and cuddle you and squeeze you (sometimes just a little too hard). I know this won’t always be the case.
Your little spirit continues to move me. At this age you want do everything yourself, including taking your own diaper off, rolling it into a ball, attaching the tabs and chucking it into the garbage. When we lay your coat on the floor you “flip” it over your head and it’s on. You want to “cook,” “clean” and help with just about anything. We said goodbye to your stroller ages ago, it seems. You walk—run—everywhere.
Your joy for reading continues to grow and we make our way through longer, more complex stories now. You have such great empathy for all of the characters you have come to know, making sure to hug and kiss each bear, ant or penguin that meets any unfortunate event or happening.
Everleigh, you are an old soul. I know this with all of my being. It’s in your controlled reactions, the way you care about people, the way you know things. You and I have a connection that will carry us through even the hardest of doors slammed, curfews that will surely be missed, that awful “hate” word when it’s inevitably hurled at me through tears and frustration, which you will feel guilt over and I will forgive you for because we all say things we don’t mean in the heat of anger.
A wise woman (Jessica) once told me that all children are babies until they are three. You are quickly approaching this number. I am desperately trying to pedal backwards, slow down time with you, in order to breathe it all in a little more delicately. At the same time, I’m so excited to continue our journey, our conversations, and watch you as you grow from a little baby into a little lady. You will be able to write your own ticket in life. Of that, Everleigh, I am sure.
All my love,
Your Mommy XOXO