My daughter is turning one soon. And as much as I try to be present and live in the moment—an effort which has simultaneously become both my greatest priority and biggest challenge as a mother—I can't help but feel my mind wandering as we approach this milestone...
One minute, I am back in my hospital room meeting her for the first time. I am holding all seven pounds, five ounces of her against my chest, breathing in her newness, kissing her cheeks, feeling the joy of the world literally in my fingertips.
Then the next minute I feel the weight of time, the fear of it going by too quickly. The terror of missing it.
The other day, I closed my eyes for a second at a stoplight, and just like that, the realization that I only get 17 more years with her as my baby hit me so hard I cried. I hurried home, took her out of her car seat, and held her tight in the garage.
I've still got time, I told myself… I've still got time.
As I get ready to celebrate her birthday, I am preparing for my first Birth Day too. It's the anniversary of my mamahood. The day that marks the beginning of my journey with my daughter. I am reminded that my Birth Day is a privileged experience, one longed for by many and one celebrated and shared with many more.
It's a day that erases the passage of time and takes us back to the most important moment of our lives as mothers. No matter your current stage of motherhood, I see you, mamas. I celebrate with you and I stand with you. Your Birth Day story and the journey you have gone on since—matters.
To the woman who just received the call that she is about to become a mom, happy joyous Birth Day to you. Your Birth Day is immediate and instantaneous the minute you love your child.
Motherhood is not bound by blood—it is so much greater, and knowing this has already made you an amazing mom. Always remember the elation you feel now. Year over year, relish in the beautiful uniqueness of your Birth Day story.
To the mom whose child sleeps in heaven now, happy Birth Day. Whether days or years have passed since you last kissed your child, remind yourself of the very realness of your Birth Day.
The passage of time has brought its fair share of pain, I'm sure, but it can never steal your motherhood. Your story matters. Your child's life was significant and real. The love for your child will never diminish. Your Birth Day will always be important.
To the mom clutching her 5-year-old's hand, staring in disbelief at the list of school supplies held in her other, happy Birth Day. I know you are wondering how you got here, how time moved this quickly, how the child you thought would stay little forever is ready to walk away from you for the first time. It's okay to hold on as long as you can. It's okay to reminisce even though you still have so many wonderful years to go.
To the mama packing up her college-bound daughter's car with cardboard boxes full of hopes and dreams, happy Birth Day. You did it, girl, you made it here. The baby you rocked in your arms has become the woman you dreamed her to be. She is who she is because of you.
I know the sting of walking back into the house without her is unimaginable. I know looking into the vacant room where she once played with innocent bliss and sitting on the bed where you spent countless hours comforting her to sleep feels overwhelming. In that moment when you feel the sadness of your work being done, or perhaps the fear of the best years being over, know the best is yet to come.
To the mama whose baby is now a mama, happy Birth Day. You get the gift of generations, the joy of living it for a second time through your child's eyes. Holding your grandbaby for the first time gives you a new sense of life and purpose. As you soak it in, cherish that your journey—your own Birth Day—set lives into motion so that the world could stand still in this very moment.
To the mom getting ready to celebrate her first, happy Birth Day. I feel your heart as it rejoices in the beauty of today, looks forward to the promise of tomorrow, and misses the memories of yesterday.
As I watch my daughter play and delight in a world that is hers for the taking, I still find myself touching my belly, wondering how it was only a year ago that I carried her into this world. I find myself second-guessing if I have done enough or been enough for her.
When I feel my mind go to that place, I work hard to remind myself of what I know to be true: I love my daughter unconditionally and beyond measure. I've cuddled and kissed her every chance that I could. Every decision I've made has been in her best interest.
Every night (except for four—I know this because those four nights tore me apart) my voice was the last thing she heard before she went to bed as I whispered, "Good night, sweet pea, I love you. God bless you and keep you safe." There is nothing I wouldn't give, my own life included, to ensure her safety and happiness. I remind myself that despite my weaknesses and shortcomings, I am enough.
We, beautiful mamas, are enough.
We only get so many Birth Days. Let's hold onto the truths that make us mothers. Let's celebrate where we've been as we embrace where we are going. Let's hold each other when it hurts and hold on even tighter to the joy when it is good.
In a few weeks, I will sneak into my daughter's room while she is sleeping and rock her quietly as the clock ticks past midnight so I can be the first to whisper, "Happy birthday" in her ear.
I'll hold her tight and memorize every single detail of her face as she begins her second year. I will tell myself "Happy Birth Day" and I'll allow time to stop. I know even now that that moment won't be enough time and it never will be. But I will surrender myself to it and pray for many, many more.