How is it possible that you can love someone so much before you meet her…love her exponentially more when she’s born…and love her infinitely more every day after?
Several months ago you said, eagerly, “Want to know what I’m going to be when I grow up? I’ll give you a hint: it’s someone who takes care of children.”
“A mother?” I asked, struck with your wisdom beyond your years.
“Mmm hmm.” You nodded, smiling. I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of you. Except as I’ve watched you “practice” being a mommy to your own baby dolls. From the time you were a baby you had a “lovey.” The first one was a brown bear that said “Hug” on one foot and “Me” on the other. You now call it “My First Loving Bear.” Next it was the doll you named “Rosie,” and she was my doll when I was a girl. Most days I would find Rosie tucked thoughtfully under a blanket on your bed after you’d been awake for hours. Now it’s your baby doll “Sarah.” You pretend to nurse her, dress her, stroll her, read to her, even celebrate her birthday. For your birthday all the things you asked for were for her: a high chair so she could eat with you, a jacket so she’d be warm, a “baby ergo” so you could carry her with you. The other day we went to an estate sale, and you were so excited to find a pillow, dress, and jacket for Sarah. For your birthday party, you wanted a “baby party.” So all your friends came over and took care of their dolls with you.
Today we watched the family movie from 2006. I loved watching you watch yourself on screen, smiling and holding me hand. I watched you growing in my belly, and the glow you gave me as I anticipated your arrival. I watched you on the day you were born, perfect and quiet and sweet and brave. You know that part of the video so well, you act it out with your own doll: first you have contractions while you lean over on the couch, then get a drink of water, go to the hospital, and cuddle your baby and eat your dinner in bed while she has a bath. Just like I did with you.
I realize, with great humility, that you’ve acquired the desire and skills for taking care of babies by watching me. The other day I said to you, “London, I know you want to be a mommy when you grow up, and that’s the most important job in the world. But do you want to be anything else too, like I’m a mommy and a photographer and a dietitian?” You looked at me with questioning eyes. “Why would I want to be anything else?” you said. I don’t think either of us realize how much I’ve learned about being a mother by watching you. What you don’t realize, but will some day, is that from the day I started wanting a baby–you–you changed me. And since you’ve arrived on this earth you’ve continued to transform me into the woman God needs me to be…for you. Sometimes I get distracted with endeavors that don’t really matter in the end. Sometimes I get angry and frustrated and put out. I wish I didn’t, but I do, and you are so forgiving. And you just continue to love me unconditionally and teach me how to be your Mommy. How grateful, how honored I am to have that calling.
You are growing up so fast. The last five years have been the best in my life. If I could, I would do it all over again. While I want so badly to slow time down and keep you as you are, I also can’t wait to see who you will become. London, darling, I love you. And I’ll love you even more tomorrow.