The day before Ada was born, I came home from work in the afternoon to make banana muffins for a meeting I had the next morning, a Friday. That Friday, November 20, 2009 was scheduled to be my last day of work before I took maternity leave, exactly one week before my due date. I gladly never made it to that meeting because my always observant, aware, thoughtful little girl knew her timing was perfect. Instead, my banana muffins accompanied us to the hospital and were my midnight snack that Thursday night as we awaited our girl. By mid-morning on Friday I was holding my brand new Ada baby close, admiring her long dainty fingers, her dark full hair, her almond shaped eyes, her perfect teeny tiny heart shaped lips, and her ridiculously precious button nose. I had truly never felt such bliss. Such gratitude for a gift that had seemed too good to be true since the moment I looked at that peed-on stick and saw the telling lines. Since the first moment I thanked God over and over again for this child, tears and adrenaline racing, it felt too good to be true. I desperately tried to distract myself by walking down the block to the grocery store so I wouldn’t call my husband and give him the biggest news of his life over the phone…it felt too good to be true. I had dreamed over and over so many times about being a mother, and mostly about to whom I would have the privilege of being their mother. I have described Ada’s birthday and the months following as blissful, peaceful, joyful, and sacred. I never felt a lot of fear during pregnancy or birth (except for the half-delirious moment in the tub 11 hours into labor when I pondered out-loud, half-crying, “how is this going to work? how does she really come out of there? this isn’t going to work!” hahaaaa). I was nervous about things going right for the baby and me, of course, but the mothering and baby part I just couldn’t get to fast enough. So, on Ada’s birth day, there I was, exactly where I’d wanted to be for as long as I can remember. All made sweeter by the fact that my wonderful husband and I were parents together to this perfect girl. Like any brand-new mom, I had no clue what this new person would bring to our lives. Though, looking back, I was never surprised by how much I loved her (and that the love grew infinitely each day), I was never surprised that leaving her side and going back to work was hell, nor was I surprised when I was awake every two hours every night for the first months. She had prepared me, God had prepared me. It felt like Ada had been there all the time, through my whole life, and that our lives finally converged on 11/20/09 in body, mind and spirit. I am eternally grateful for this child. For her tenderness, her warmth, her heart, her voice, her soul, for her tantrums, her scrunched-up mad face, her particular-ness about everything right now, for the way she forgives and loves, for ALL of her. For the past four years, Ada has taught me what it means to be her mother. She gave me new expectations for the person I want and need to be in this world. Even on days when I don’t fulfill my vision of mothering, I am shown grace. I am always learning to reach outside of myself in challenging ways, how to be quiet and listen, how to be truly present in time so I am parenting the child before me, not the infant it seems like last week was snuggled in bed next to me on our first night home, nor the teenager I am, quite frankly, a little scared of. There will never be words enough to describe what her birth day means to me and more importantly what she means to me. She is…in all her imperfections and sass and strength and attitude and observation and kindness and creativity and love…she is my perfect girl.
We got a “happy birthday” coupon from her dentist’s office for frozen yogurt, so rain or shine, 40 degrees or 60 degrees, tomorrow we’ll be dumping candy onto overly sweetened fake tasting yogurt because Ada will love it. We already had her Princess Ballerina birthday party which was a blast and definitely pink I will be sewing little felt butterflies onto a new bed canopy for her tonight, as she has been admiring other girls’ canopies for a while now. She received some much-beloved princesses and princess accessories at her party, so the past few days have been occupied, needless to say. Every year for the birthday girl (or daddy) we set a place setting at the table with birthday surprises and notes and decorations, and this year is the first year Ada has asked “so will my table have surprises on it on my real birthday in the morning?” It’s the first year she has remembered this tradition. Yes darling, it will. We love you so. Happy Fourth Birthday my little love!