You turn the big 04 on the 27th! This birthday is hard for me. Why? Where do I start? Because my own permanent memories began at four years old and I’m assuming yours will too. I can vividly remember walking down the block I grew up on holding my mother’s hand. We walked to the bus stop every Saturday morning to ride it downtown Minneapolis – 912 Nicollet Mall. That was where the beauty salon she owned stood. I would spend all day at the shop listening to the ladies chat and watch my mom transform women from the inside out. A lot of my most favorite times happened at that beauty shop…as well as my education about life, love and hardships. Also, I remember my patent leather church shoes…my most prized possession. Grandpa Dewey would pretend to shine them every Sunday before church. I’d hop up on his bed and hang my legs down from the edge and let him make them look shiny and new again before rushing off to Sunday School. I could go on and on. My point is, is that I’m very worried. I feel like NOW you too will have LASTING memories of me and your father. Not that the previous years haven’t counted, but I feel like now I’ve really got to dig in and make it count. I want you to someday tell your children (if you decide to go that route) all about how your daddy used to wrestle with you and your sister on the living room floor. Or how mommy took you to dance class on Saturday mornings and then the two of you would sneak off to Target afterwards for treats. Don’t forget about how daddy falls asleep in your bed snuggling or mommy paints your nails just how you like them- black or dark red with sparkles on top.
As your mom I question if I’m doing it right on a daily basis. I’m guessing I’m not alone in this. I’m sure most mothers feel this way- if they’re being honest with themselves. I wonder whether I was a little too harsh with you, or if I wasn’t stern enough. Am I making sure I’m giving you the tools to go out into the world with confidence, self esteem and a little bit of kick ass- ness?. Did I make you sad today? Did I say the right thing or the wrong thing? Were those berries I just fed you covered in pesticides? Are you getting enough calcium….see the questions are endless. This year counts- just as the previous ones did too- but again- for some reason there has been a shift inside me. I want you to have good memories.
I’m old enough now to be a realist and my pessimist meter has always leaned a bit towards the half empty side. I wish it didn’t, but most days it does. I know that when it comes to parenting, I will fail…probably more than I’d like to. I will struggle, I will fall down. I expect to. It means I care and it means I AM TRYING with everything I’ve got. And truly- really…if I am honest with myself…isn’t that at the core of what really matters? If you remember nothing else…remember that I tried every.single.day to be the best mom to you, because that’s what you deserve. On days when I wanted to pull the covers over my head and ignore the day, the knowledge that you needed me got me outta my head and off my ass to get up and participate in life. You help me realize that my actions, matter. Not only that, you motivate and encourage me to continuously learn and grow because if I am to teach you “all of the things” then I better learn “all of the things.”
I’m not sure where to take this post from here. This was supposed to be about you- but a lot of it has been about me. I guess too, 4 is when I finally realized that my own mother was a person too. She wasn’t just my mom. She had a name and friends and likes and dislikes. She was perfect and imperfect and sometimes got impatient with me. I saw her fail and cry and sometimes she got scared. It’s a little startling for a child when you first start to notice these things. I image you have already noticed some of these things in me too. Even so, your love for me never waivers. Sometimes you tell me you don’t like me anymore when I make you go to bed, but I know it’s just the anger talking . I want you to know/notice that I am not perfect and I hope that gives you permission to not be perfect either and to know that IT IS OK. Fall, fail, stumble, cry, yell, be scared. It means you’re living and not just existing. But, also- smile, scream with joy, leap, jump, be passionate, cheer, ask questions…all of the questions. Be limitless. It is your right.
Esther, you are perfect in my eyes . You could never do anything- seriously- anything that would change my adoration and love for you. It’s by design. Before bed a few weeks ago I asked you how you were going to change the world and you responded, “I’m going to give hugs when people are sad. I’m going to share happiness and love.” How can a response be any more perfect than that? Especially in the world in which we are existing in today.
Here’s to making lasting memories that will build upon a foundation that was stated 4 years ago when we first saw each other that Friday morning in that hospital room the day of your birth. You looked at me with those big brown eyes knowingly. I melted. We fell in love. That is one of my most favorite memories of all. The moment I became a mother- you did that. We’ve got so much more to do. I’m so excited.
Happy 4th birthday little monkey! You are my happy thought.