I remember, and as I wander through the memories it feels as though I am not just remembering but living it again. The years suddenly mean nothing and I remember how it felt. All of me so raw and fresh and new -there was this sudden new part that I was to play in life, a new role that had been anticipated for nine months but not fully understood even as it was thrust literally into my arms. Mother.
And there, that tiny body, those fingers and toes, those long thin arms and legs. Those eyes that opened and took in the world and then, overwhelmed and confused, closed again. This process repeated over and over until the lights weren't so shocking and the voices weren't so loud and the world began to come clearer to her eyes.
Her eyes that were so startlingly blue as a baby and then deepened and greened to the color of late autumn grass on a misty day. Not quite brown, not quite green, you aren't quite sure what color you are seeing and so you look, and look again, and in the looking you decide you don't know what color they are, but you do know that it is peaceful, and quiet in those eyes.
I remember long dark nights, so many nights where she cried and I cried because I didn't know how to stop the crying and I didn't know if I could do anything at all, anymore. I was terrified of the coming of nights, because each setting of the sun and long intervening hours broke me down, entirely, utterly, every piece of me torn apart and scattered. Then, just at the peak of my despair, every morning the sun would rise up, and I would find a sleeping baby in my arms, and my own tears dried on my cheeks, and I would tell myself, "you can do this, because you have to." And somehow, I would.
And she never judged me, she never hated me as I hated myself all those times I didn't know what I was doing and wanted to give up, to quit, to walk away. So I stayed, and she grew, and she helped me grow, too.
Happy Birthday, Hallie
As much as it is your birthday, I hope you don't mind if on this eighth one that has so much meaning for me, you will share it with me a little bit because in some ways it is my birthday too. The birthday of my life as mother. Thank you, Hallie, for being brave enough to be my first baby. I love you so much.