Sunday, March 21, 2010

Happy Birthday!

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Today we celebrate the eleventh birthday of our daughter. I don't know how it happens but every single birthday catches me off guard. It's not that I don't think and prepare for birthdays. I do. Sometimes I prepare for several different birthday celebrations. I plan dinners, invite guests, buy party supplies and favors for guests. I spend time selecting the perfect gift for the birthday child. I make cakes, to order, to the specifications of the birthday boy or girl. I love birthdays and treat them with all the importance that they deserve. After all, each child only gets their special day once each year.

The part that catches me off guard is the private part. The recollection of the days that only I remember. The private treasury of moments that add up to being the mother of this amazing creature. A creature that is intimately known, only to me. One that I've nurtured and treasured since before she was born. On this day, eleven years ago this child was born and I was born as well. We were born to each other, mother and child.

While I've never talked about this feeling with another mother, I can't imagine that I'm the only one that experiences that soul clutching emotional vertigo when looking at my growing child. I imagine that all mothers must look at their children and see that child at each stage from infant to present in one glance. The rush of knowing that child. The helplessness of time moving on despite the desire to freeze it all for just one moment and hold that precious infant, kiss that sweet from the bath toddler, smooth the hair of that smiling, toothless six year old...and we do. In one blink, we are able to move back in time and know the depth of love we hold for each of those children that are this child.

And so it happens, every birthday. I spend time preparing for the day and forget to prepare my heart for another milestone. I find myself counting candles and fighting back tears as I remember the hours and hours my darling girl screamed as an infant. I ice a cake remembering the stories we read and the songs we sang on car trips and while walking together. I prepare the meal and recall the kisses and hugs, the bathtub games, the laughter, the tears. I set the table and catalog the milestones we've passed, the favorite colors, songs, outfits, movies, foods and friends that this child has loved.

I watch her blow out one more candle and pray that this year is better than any year prior. I pray for her safety. I pray for her continued growth in knowledge and wisdom. I pray for her spirit and her heart. I pray for myself and for the two of us together. I pray that next year we will be celebrating this day with even more joy than we celebrate today.

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