It wasn’t too long ago that I read the words of wiser mothers who pleaded “hold your babies as long as you can, one day you will wake up and they will have outgrown your arms”. I had no doubt that they were speaking from a place of heartbreaking honesty, but at the time, I was reading them with a baby swaddled in my arms. A baby who seemed to be attached to my breast or my hip at all times, whether I liked it or not. I was reading these words with the blissful ignorance that these never-ending days would remain that way forever. Yet here I am, and now I am that mother pleading. Saying nothing new; but experiencing beautiful, heart wrenching newness every day. So while I’m in the thickness of it all I want to write Ellie a letter. I’m not sure if this is more for me or for her. But I know that I want to get it down before it evaporates. I just want to always have a glimpse into the simple magic that is being her Mama, in our living room, with nothing but us and some music playing.
You fell asleep on me today, your back was pressed against my stomach and your head resting on my chest. I only realized it when your snack cup fell out of your clenched little fist and tumbled onto the floor. You see, now that you are two years old I don’t have to rock you to sleep anymore. You find so much joy these days in doing it all for yourself, and I can’t begin to tell you how much joy it brings me to watch you navigate the world on your own terms. But there are a few things that I miss, and feeling the depth of your weight shift when you fall asleep on top of me, that is up there on the list. Hearing your breath get deeper, feeling those deep-sleep twitches that you get from your Daddy, letting me know that you are at home in my arms, I will never grow tired of that. And today, you reminded me of what made those never ending days, the sweetest days of my life.
So today when I knew you were sound asleep, I turned you around so that your head could rest on my shoulder, and so that I could feel your breath on my face. The heat of those deep breaths matched the temperature of the tears that fell down my cheeks. They were not tears of sadness, they weren’t even anticipated, they were just tears full of deep burning gratitude. Every day I am grateful to be your Mama, but today the gratitude was for those words I read. For the words that I knew were true before I knew what they would feel like to sit inside of them. Those words held me still today. They were the mantra looping in my head as I felt each tear and each breath simultaneously.
Just as I was trying to remember what it felt like to hold the tiny version of you, a song came on the T.V. that pulled me back into the present moment. The song was “Hold Back the River” by James Bay. I have always loved this song, but today it felt like it was playing just for me. It felt a lot like those wiser mothers, and once again I knew enough to at least pay attention. The truth is, I don’t know exactly what James Bay’s interpretation was when he wrote this song, but what I got from it today was to let you know something that may feel forgotten at points along our journey as mother and daughter.
I want you to know that there is absolutely nothing that can tamper with the love that I have for you. I want you to know that being deeply present with you and witnessing you exactly as you are, will always be my greatest source of joy. There is nothing that you will ever have to do, be, or conform to, that will make me love you more, because you already have it all. I will witness your pain and your struggles in this messy life, and I will hold space for you. I will not do this perfectly. I will at times struggle with the fact that I cannot take on your struggles for you. But I will always have a deeper knowing that you were made to walk through the fire, and that I am simply here to show you that you are fire-proof.
But every now and then, I will wade in the changing tides of the river and pretend like I am holding them back for just a moment, so I can look in your eyes. You my girl, you were made for this, and I hope that you will always know that my love for you is so fierce, that you napping on me brought me to tears. You are all of the beauty this world has to offer. I love you so much. Xo –Mama