I wish I had words to tell you what this day does to me, but I do not.
I wish I had something to give you, something beyond my love, that was certain, but I don't. I know all too well that even my love doesn't feel like love most days, Big A. Angst is not lost on this adoring mother, though I know you believe otherwise.
I struggle now, more than ever. I want to give you the world, but I want you to know what it means to seek out your own place.
I want to teach you the importance of loving yourself while making sure you learn how to put others before you and the value of that; of recognizing more than yourself.
I want to be your compass, and yet, more than ever, it is you and Little A that are mine. "What would I want them to do?" "What would I want them to know?" "What if that were my child; how would I want someone to fight for them?"
So how does this work, you ask?
And all I can tell you after these twelve years of being a mother is that possibly, today more than ever, I don't know. I say possibly because I'm not sure. It doesn't go away, but I wish it did.
I see your insecurities, and they gnaw at me.
I see your strengths and they inspire me.
I see your frustration and your anger and your desire for this part of you to end, already, eyes to the finish line when you've just yet started the race. You are my child, after all.
I know you cringe when I speak of the moment ago that I was cradling you to my chest, so I try not to speak of it. I don't tell you to embarrass you, I tell you so that you know; to try to teach you that it does pass, love, so fast, so quick, so certainly.
The etches in the doorway; the three inches that you've grown, the three shoe sizes that you've gained--in just a year? I cannot keep up with you and for that I am ever so grateful and eternally sad. And that makes not one bit of sense to me, either.
It is not just you, though I tell you it is; I do hold you a bit longer when I hug you at night now. "Will it be tonight?", I wonder, "Will it be tonight that she goes to bed a tad shorter and awakens taller than I? Will this be the last time I know of my child being just so below my eye level?" I'm the tallest in my family, you know, so I have no idea how to look up at you, and yet, it seems I've been doing so forever.
I know that you believe if you hear once more of the day I discovered the last of your baby fat was gone that you will die of boredom. I do know this. I do hear you. I do listen.
It's just the shock of that; the pain of that; the keen awareness and foreshadowing of what was yet to come--it hasn't left me yet, Big A. I don't believe it ever shall. And I believe that is how it should be.
There is no stopping this thing called time; perhaps these are the longest years. I cannot be your friend. I cannot grasp you to my chest. I cannot shelter you from this world. I cannot follow you to be certain that you've donned your hat and zipped your coat and protected your lips with the chapstick that I seem to buy you daily.
I will never rock you again in the old creaky chair; never fall asleep again with you on my chest; never make you believe that I am magic anymore.
Santa is gone, the Tooth Fairy is gone, the Easter Bunny is gone; on some days, I know, even God is gone. I can't make you believe. I can't explain well enough. And I must be alright with that. And I will tell you that even now, that is hard, despite knowing it is how it must be.
There is no love beyond this love.
There is no breath that I take without you on my mind.
There is no thought not marked by your presence.
There is no beauty that does not remind me of you.
Twelve years. It might have been twelve hours and I still would not know where the time has gone.
Happy Birthday, Big A.