12 years ago today, I was looking my newborn daughter in the eyes for the first time. I held her tiny body (all 9 lbs, 12 oz of her) and couldn’t believe that they were going to let me take her home. Didn’t they know I had never done this before? I wasn’t sure I could be trusted to know when to feed her or how often to change her diaper. I was unsure what would happen if I ever stopped counting how many times she breathed. I was sure, with as fragile as her body was, that
I was going to be the one to break her.
I mean, I couldn’t be trusted to carry more than a couple dishes at a time. I had broken my mother’s favorite coffee cup that way. I wasn’t very careful with my books, still guilty of dog-earing the pages and returning borrowed paperbacks with the hints of everything I had eaten that week between the pages. And some of them were just never returned at all. I couldn’t for the life of me put things away in their proper place. Hair supplies sometimes were in the art cabinet. Food storage containers were under my bed. Our only flashlight was somewhere in a pile of stuff. And I couldn’t even remember where I had placed my nail clippers. I lost stuff all the time.
Oh my jeez. What if I lost the baby???
Needless to say, they did let me take her home, ignoring the deer caught in the headlights look in my eyes. And needless to say, I never lost her. I caught on pretty quickly to the whole new mother role, falling in love with my daughter immediately and effortlessly. And that kind of love was stronger than any feeling I had ever felt my whole life.
I look at her now, the little girl she once was slowly slipping away. She more closely resembles the woman she is going to become than the pigtailed toddler in overalls that used to follow me wherever I went. Now she is independent, very clear on the interests of her life and where she wants to be in several more years. She’s almost as tall as me, and will surely pass me up by the summertime. She is my second hand, the one I can rely on to help start dinner, clear the table or dish rack, or locate her brother outside. She is old enough now to be able to share stories with and have a laugh, much like I would with my own friends. My daughter has an old soul. She’s incredibly smart and responsible beyond her years. She’s been through a lot in her young life, and you can see the strength that she possesses.
I don’t just love my daughter, I genuinely like her.
She might be quick to roll her eyes or tell me when one of my ideas are lame. She is the first to tell me that the outfit I’m wearing is not really flattering at all. If she believes in something, she will argue it as far as she can. If she can’t win verbally, she’ll shut her mouth and make it clear that what she is thinking about me can’t be pretty.
In short, she’s just like me.
She watches me when I put on make-up. She won’t let me show her how, but she pays attention so she can learn. Every now and then she’ll spill the secrets of her soul, just needing to get it out, and trusting me to guard her heart. She holds the same passion for writing that I do, constantly keeping a notebook closeby so that she can jot down more ideas and storylines towards the novel she’s creating. And occasionally she’ll run ideas by me, reading snippets of passages or asking about a certain concept.
And this amazing person was trusted to me for the last 12 years, and hopefully 200 more, to raise, guide, and love.
Happy 12th birthday, my not-so-little drama queen. I love you.