Tuesday, July 16, 2013

To My Daughter

I open my blurry eyes in the morning and see you there. I am amazed you are still here each day. That you are really part of our family.

I pinch myself regularly. Thankfully, I am not waking up from this dream.

Your story started almost a year ago, when your dad, brothers and I were in the car on our way to the airport, headed to the family beach house and I made us stop at Walgreens on the drive north so I could purchase a pregnancy test. I got sick in the plastic Walgreens sack. Your dad and I exchanged looks. I took the test in the airport bathroom and gave him the news in the terminal. You were already with us. This was happening. We managed to keep the news of you secret between just the two of us for several months even while we lived with Mimi as our house was remodeled. We didn’t know when we had created the blueprints with our architect several months beforehand that we were adding space for you.

I have waited months to write these words because I am so desperate to make them count; to live up to the standards you’ve set. Perfection. It’s an impossible goal so I move forward anyway, expecting missteps but doing my best. Just like in mothering.

In my belly you made me crave anything tomato-y. Salsa, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce. And anything involving a mix of peanut butter and chocolate. I was sure you would have peanut butter colored hair based on the amount I consumed.

I find myself reminiscing about you growing and stretching inside me, kicking and hiccupping. This is not my first rodeo. I know I will forget how that felt and I already grieve for these memories that are so fleeting in the course of motherhood. This is the story of you, now. The snuggly baby ball of you that is just stopping by on her path of growth. I plead with time to stand still, while simultaneously looking forward to the next phase of you being unveiled.

You arrived in late spring and when we left the hospital with you, there was a May snowstorm. Welcome to Life, a place where we shrug our shoulders and try to go with the flow. In the 11 weeks that have followed, you’ve done just that. You eat and sleep like a dream and your yelling, screaming brothers don’t even faze you. I believe you got used to them in utero. And based on the chaos you heard, you figured out that you would need to be flexible. Thank you.

You love to be outside. You seem lulled into a peaceful state by nature sounds and smells around you. I hope a yearning to be outside stays with you forever. You gaze up at me from your seat in the stroller as we walk and I gaze back, overwhelmed with all the life advice I want to impart. Be a helper. Stand up for what’s right. Extend your hand to the outcast. Identify your gifts, then cultivate and share them. Stay off of reality shows and out of tattoo parlors. Respect yourself and treat your body as a gift on loan from your Creator. Keep the faith. The list is endless. What will you learn from my words and what from just living, experiencing, observing? I feel anxious pressure to set the best example.

I know there will come a time(s) that you’ll become so annoyed with me and that’s okay. (I’m sure your grandmother secretly looks forward to those full-circle moments.) I’ll try to be patient, give space and wait for you to come around. I also hope there will be times you are proud to be this woman’s daughter. I will tell you about the day you accompanied me to the office, just a few weeks into your life, as I was promoted to Partner. I want you to learn from me how to work hard in pursuit of a rewarding passion. Not how to fall back on your laurels or be enabled. At the same time, you inspire me to cut back, reexamine priorities and seek treatment for my sometimes workaholism. You are my treatment. I know you will remind me over the next many years, when I want to be reminded and when I don’t, to stop and exhale.

I need to tell you about your brothers. You wouldn’t believe how in love with you they are. Even Graham, who upon learning that you would be a sister cried real tears. “But she’s going to be bossy!” he lamented through sobs. I know we’ll recount that story time and again with a giggle, but oh that boy. I believe he thought you would come out as a fellow first-grader who stole his toys and liked to tell him what to do, which (word to the wise) apparently he does not appreciate. But the first night you were home with us from the hospital, he held you in his 7-year-old arms and proclaimed, “I guess I wanted a girl the whole time.” He is protective and proud. As you get to know him and come to appreciate his quirks, you will be a better, more empathetic person for knowing and loving him in all his uniqueness.

Everyone says you look just like Reid. He loves that. He is gentle and understated and timid around you. But really, it’s not just your effect on him. You will learn from him how to be a sweetheart, a listener, a pleaser. At night he asks if you will snug with him in his bed while I read to him. I ask him if he will read to you one day and he looks up with me with a nod and a smile. That’s so Reidy. Remember that when Graham’s extremes push you too far, Reid will be your soft place to land.

These boys have taught me how to mother to this point. I hope you’ll find they’ve done a good job with me and consider yourself a lucky addition to their team.

I hope you also find luck in being your daddy’s daughter. One day when you are older I will tell you about my complicated relationship with my own dad, but more importantly what I learned from it. Part of that education was what I wanted in a father to my children. You will now benefit from that hard-learned lesson. Your daddy is the man by which any of your future suitors should be measured and often fall short until one day, someone doesn’t. When that happens, and not beforehand, you’ll know. In other words, never, never settle or compromise your expectations in this arena. Never. Ever.

While I’m still early in this motherhood journey, I know enough to know that while daydreams of the Future You are inevitable, we really have just met and you haven’t shared much about yourself yet. In seven years of parenting, I have learned the most important lesson: that you are not a mini version of your parents, or who we think you are or want you to be, but you, Blair, yourself. And as you let us get to know you more with each passing year, I hope you’ll find that you have no louder cheerleaders anywhere in the world than the four who will always be here in the Hawks Nest – your nest – where we have enthusiastically made room for you. You, my daughter.

Welcome to the world.