I gave birth to this child.
Granted, 21 years ago she didn't look like that. No, she looked even better if you can believe it. Small, softer than anything I'd ever touched in my life, squirmy, cuddly and she smelled so good. I think I spent most of my time that first year with my face buried in her sweet smelling neck and kissing her face.
The pain of a 21 hour labor was soon forgotten (sort of) as I brought this tiny squalling person home to our basement apartment. Sleep was no longer what it once was in my life---from that day forward it came in spurts and sometimes it didn't come at all.
I'd lay awake just to listen to the gentle sound of air entering and exiting her tiny lungs. That sound was music to my heart and better than any soundtrack I'd ever listened to up to that time. From moment to moment I'd lean up and place my hand on her--just to be sure she was still there and still breathing.
There was snow that year---and three days after her birth we had to get her admitted to Children's Hospital for a week or so until her bilirubin count came down from it's lofty frightening heights. We had a private room, she and I. I'd put my hands through the holes in the incubator and stroke her back or watch in amazement as her tiny fingers wrapped around one of my fingers.
Nights of sickness, days of laughter, pudding in her hair, pullups and tricycles. Her first snow when she learned to walk and her faceplant in the snow that frightened her half to death. There were pink dresses and bows in her long honey colored hair. Foot stompings and I-can-do-it-myself's. Girls camp and crushes on boys. Obsession with Titanic and piano lessons and learning to drive. Gifted programs and books by the bushel. Graduation and college and the wonder of watching her try to find her way in the world and discover just who she is.
The relationship between a mother and a daughter is tender and oft times tense.
I grew her in my belly and she in turn, grew me into a mom for the very first time.
I made mistakes....but I always did what I thought was right. I taught her to pray and to read the scriptures. I took her to church and spoke to her of her royal heritage as a daughter of God. She knows where she comes from.....and my heart, the heart of a mom, yearns for her to sit in my lap once more so I can whisper the gospel truths in her ear and feel her arms go around my shoulders and squeeze me tight.
I know there will be no more dressing up as princesses and putting on dancing shows for me. I know the time for jumping into my warm bed in the morning for a Sunday snuggle is long past so now I look forward to watching you graduate this Spring, to see you find your way in this confusing world and I hope for the occasional passing hug and 'I love you Mommy'.
I love you sweetheart.