17 years ago tomorrow, February 23rd, my one and only child was born. The anticipation of that day overwhelmed me. I was 23 and of course, knew everything there was to know about being a Mom based on “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” told me. I read that book out loud daily, as well as a lot of Shakespeare, so as to educate my unborn baby and pave his or her way to forthcoming genius. As the chapters went by, my belly continued to grow. The deeper the topic, the bigger I became.
I was put on bed rest in my 35th week of pregnancy. Apparently all the nesting which included organizing closets and washing the floors a hundred times over caused this baby to be ready early. Not surprising given my penchant for being on time (as in 10 minutes early) for everything.
Rest? Not my strong suit, even when I was pregnant.
But after almost 9 months of following textbook instruction so this kid would be born without issue, I wasn’t about to muck it up now. I laid in bed for a week straight bored out of my gourd praying for this child to come. Olivia would be her name if she was a girl; Nolan if a boy.
Truthfully, I thought I wanted a boy. I wanted to throw a football, a baseball, and bounce a basketball with my baby boy. I wanted to tee off on the front 9 and yell “Four!” as we drove into the slow pokes in front of us. I wanted to size up every girl he tried to bring home and render her a little tramp who was in no way good enough for him. I wanted to be the Mom who wore his jersey, baked cookies for him and the rest of the State Champion team and high-fived him after all his triumphs. I wanted to be the Mom whose shoulder he cried on when his heart was broken, and the one woman he could count on when his dreams weren’t coming true. I wanted to be there for him through thick and thin, through and through.
Yeah looking back, I guess I wanted a son so I could live vicariously and somehow fill a void which had yet to be filled by any boyfriend to date. On some level, I suppose I still want to be that woman, albeit in a totally different capacity…
5:30 am – water broke
5:32 am – shower
5:45 am – on the way to the hospital
6:30 am – locking myself in the bathroom to have this kid on my own since I was in pain and the coddling by everyone was on my nerves
6:50am – hanging on to the handicap bars and squatting down ready to dump this baby on its head, simultaneously inventing some new birthing technique to be used in third world countries / lesbian communes where “We Only Need the Seeds” is stamped on the entrance sign
7:15 am – door being broken down
7:20 am – in a bed hooked to an IV. Whatever.
9:47 am – the tiniest, most beautiful being brought into this world, swaddled, and placed in my arms
9:48 am – tears of joy; a complete feeling of peace and unconditional love that I had yet to feel in my 23 years of life; my proudest moment; the one thing I never wanted to take back and knew would forever change my outlook on everything, forevermore.
Hello, Olivia. I’ve been waiting for you.
Last night, as you walked into the kitchen laughing – with that beautiful smile on your face – I saw a strong, confident, happy young woman. And yet, through these same eyes, my same lenses, I could see as if it was yesterday the baby girl who crawled around on my kitchen floor. The one who sat in a high chair with spaghetti stains around her mouth so thick I thought they’d never come off and you’d be stuck working as a clown in the circus.
I remember so clearly the nights I’d cry due to lack of sleep, as you cried for me, wanting to be held. Or fed. Or changed. I had no idea – that freaking book was useless.
I remember putting you in a swing and watching you fly through the air giggling.
I remember singing Silent Night as your sweet smelling head was nodding off on my left shoulder while we paced the house, just the two of us. Alone. Silent. At night.
I remember when you learned to talk. And you never.shut.up. Why, Mama? Why? How come that is?
Man I miss those days. What I wouldn’t give for you to want me to hold you; for you to talk to me again like you couldn’t use enough words to convey what you wanted me to know.
You no longer sit in a swing; you sit in the driver’s seat of a car.
You no longer smell like Johnson and Johnson’s Baby Shampoo; you smell like something that makes me glad I lift so I can take a swing at all those teenage boys.
You no longer need me to teach you the basics; you instead ask about colleges, PhD’s, and if God is real.
Just like I had no idea how to be a Mom, I had no idea how blessed I was to have given birth to a girl. From the moment I held you, I knew it was mean to be…that I couldn’t care less about throwing a football or baseball with you – I just wanted you to be safe and to know you were loved beyond measure. I wanted you to know that God put you in our lives for a reason, and that He made you wonderfully and uniquely you.
And wonderful and unique you are.
One year from now, you will be considered an official “adult.” But tomorrow, next year, and every year thereafter, you will still and always be…my baby girl.
You make me proud, Liv. For 17 solid years.
I love you,