I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few days thinking about the first time we met.
Remembering how it felt to finally hold you after months and months of waiting. Cradling your body on mine as I breastfed you for the first time. The wonder of that first night lying next to you, exhausted but too wired to sleep, breathing in the indescribably perfect scent of your fuzzy head and memorizing the shape of your nose and your delicate ears like seashells.
Read more: My Accidental Hospital Birth
Today we hit a milestone. You are the child who made me a mother, and today you turn ten years old.
That’s 3,653 days you’ve spent thriving and growing and becoming. 3,653 days for me, spent stumbling through parenthood and hoping I’m doing an okay job.
It’s been ten years since your father took this photo of you and me and our midwives, minutes before we took you home for the first time.
In those intervening years, you’ve grown from 19 inches long to four and a half feet tall. From an itty bitty thing who fit perfectly in the crook of my arm into a a big kid trying to decide if you still need your mother to tuck you in at night. From completely dependent on me for every single thing, into a headstrong preteen exerting your independence and learning to stand on your own two feet.
You came from my body, and sometimes I can’t get over how much you’re like me: smart, determined, compassionate, headstrong, and stubborn. There have been a lot of days lately when we butt heads and your developing independence collides with our rules and expectations.
When I feel like pulling my hair out, I remind myself that those qualities that get you in trouble today are also the strengths that will stand you in good stead the rest of your life.
Ten years is long enough to earn a PhD, long enough to learn to speak Japanese fluently, long enough to become a world-class violinist. For most jobs, ten years would make me an expert. But ten years mean nothing here. Most days I feel just as clueless as I did that first day we brought you home.
We are both so new to this. You’re figuring out who you are and how to grow into the person you’re meant to be, and I’m figuring out how to parent you through it all. We’re going to make a lot of mistakes along the way, but I hope you’ll always remember I love you. Especially on the bad days wracked with tears and anger and frustration, remember that nothing can ever change how much I love you. From the moment I saw those two blue lines on the pregnancy test until my final breath, I’m with you.