This week my daughter turned 8. I woke up the morning of her birthday and she was a year older, despite my hopes that I could stop time and have three babies in the house forever.
She made me a mama for the first time, so her growing up so fast is even more bitter sweet.
I remember the day she was born so vividly: the instant I held her in my arms and locked my eyes into hers; how beautiful she looked and the fact that she seemed so familiar to me as if there was no other possible way for her to look any different than herself, was so obvious, so engraved in my soul already.
The first night, still in the hospital and the surprise that she wanted to eat every two hours, followed instantly by the thought that of course it didn’t matter how often she would wake because I would have given every inch of my soul to feed her and protect her.
The ride home and the feeling, looking outside of the car’s window, that the world hadn’t changed a single bit, rather it was just me who had changed forever. I had chosen to love her and keep the promise of being her mom until life would grant me.
The first few days smelt of witch hazel, grape-seed oil and vanilla cupcakes (although I had never been a cupcake lover); of tuna melt, mother’s milk tea and organic baby soap.
I remember that Christmas became even more special, because I had received the baby I had wanted for so long. All the holidays of the calendar assumed a new flavor of magic and discovery thanks to her, because for the first time I could live them through the eyes of innocence and mesmerism.
This is what it meant for me to become a mom but also to realize that because of her I wanted to change my life and give it a different purpose, so much so that I quit my job to be able to work from home while she would sleep at night.
The months following her birth were hard, I have to admit it. After all the anticipation, I found myself not knowing what to do with my day, where to go and who to talk to, until my husband would come home from work.
Most of my friends back then, were male artists committed to the visual effects industry as I was to being a good mom.
I felt unprepared, alone, often swinging between feeling absolutely and amazingly lucky to be chosen to be her mom AND inexplicably devastated and lost.
In retrospect, I wish I recognized the inner compulsion I had to keep the house tidy all the time as the need to control my loneliness. I just had a million of questions and no one to ask them.
So I did what I usually do when I find myself in a period of transition. I started walking.
In lieu of a post partum guru, I pretty much walked everywhere I could push a stroller to. Supermarket, beach, board walk, neighborhoods close and far, park, the post office, daddy at work, errands…the California weather was especially delicious and helpful and so we walked.
Days turned into months and when months went by, purely out of luck, I stumbled onto a RIE group of first time moms who were as lost and eager to connect as I was; they became my village and to this day I am so lucky to call them friends.
We would meet at least twice a week at the park. We’d bring a blanket to sit on, few simple toys and our wolf pack agreement. Believe me, those meet ups saved my life and my sanity because I realized that I was not alone and all the crazy questions I had constantly circumnavigating my head were not just the fruit of my rotting brain, but they were legit and universal.
Soon the days at the park were replaced by more elaborated play dates ( although the most successful ones still happen at the playground); the birthday parties and preschool events transitioned into the present days where I find myself surrounded by a group of friends who have walked with me and my husband on this motherhood journey for 8 years now and have become my community.
Time has gone by so fast despite the moments of struggle and the questions that may have gone unanswered. All of it was worthy and
for all of it I am grateful.
To my daughter who turned my world upside down and made me her mom, what an honor it has been all this time.
Happy birthday, my Darling, you are loved.