A Mother's Letter to Her Daughter on Her 1st Birthday (for Alexah)
“Sometimes when you pick up your child you can feel the map of your own bones beneath your hands, or smell the scent of your skin in the nape of her neck. This is the most extraordinary thing about motherhood – finding a piece of yourself separate and apart that all the same you could not live without.” -Jodi Picoult
A mother’s joy doesn’t begin when the child is born. It begins when the child is stirring inside her, when the heartbeat is heard for the first time, when the doctor confirms that yes, this is a viable pregnancy, when the first ultrasound image reveals ten fingers and toes, and when a playful kick in a growing midsection reminds her that she is never alone. With all the things that can possibly go wrong during pregnancy and childbirth, it’s no wonder I cried inconsolably the moment the doctor placed you in my arms.
I watched you this morning while you were sleeping. I prepared my altar carefully so not to disturb you because for God fearing people, prayers are how miracles happen. I burned sage to remove unwanted spirits. They say this is how you keep the evil away. The smoke filled the air as the faint light of dawn crept through the window highlighting the softness of your face. The stillness of the room interrupted only by the peaceful humming of your breath. I remember when you were an illusion perched beyond my reach; a dream that haunted me at night as I lay in bed.
From the moment I learned of your conception you’d already claimed your place in my heart, in our hearts. Your father and I were consumed with incredible joy knowing that in a few months we would bear witness to the realization of one of our greatest dreams. As unattainable as you once seemed, today we celebrate the anniversary of your birth. It seems like we just brought you home from the hospital. But we didn’t just bring you home. 365 joyous & gratitude filled days have passed, each day a reminder of the amazing grace of God. For 365 days I have prayed to God and thanked her for this gift of mothering.
Your chubby little legs have already mastered the skill of walking. You begrudge anyone who attempts to pick you up and carry you. You much rather exercise your newfound independence chasing and following behind your sister. It is heartwarming to see how much she loves you. She takes pride in being the big sister. She is already protective of you and does nothing when you grab and pull her hair. She understands that you are still a baby and it’s your way of playing with her. My heart swells seeing you two together. My hope is that as you both grow you will continue to be protective of each other; that you support, encourage, and look out for one another. The bond between sisters is unique and special and should always be protected. Never let anyone or anything break your bond. Ever.
As I watch the sun rise over the horizon I am reminded of its beauty and all it represents. I am reminded that with each rising sun is the promise of a new day and with each new day, comes a new opportunity to be better, to be thankful, and to be grateful. It is with gratitude that I celebrate your life, knowing and understanding that your life is a gift to me, to your dad, and to everyone blessed to know you.
It takes 365 days for the Earth to complete its orbit around the sun. Today signifies the completion of your first revolution. The average distance between the Earth and the Sun is 92.96 million miles. The average distance between a dream and its manifestation is the number of times your knees have bled while clinging to the ground in prayer. You are my greatest prayer manifested in human form and for the rest of my life I will remember this moment, and be grateful that you chose me to be the vessel to bring you into this world. Happy birthday, baby girl.