For many years I swore against becoming a gushing parent. I always hoped and anticipated the day I would be able to love my children fiercely, but promised to keep it in check. I was a non-parent long enough to know that newborns aren’t even cute, no poop is interesting enough to talk about and the world continues spinning whether I get a good sleep or not. No matter how sweet your burps were, I would keep them to myself.
I was wrong.
Exactly one year ago today I got inducted into the real Illuminati: Motherhood. More powerful and far tougher than any Mafioso, we are a borderless brethren that initiates by squeezing watermelons out of lemon-sized holes. We swear by an unwritten code and stick to one another. We sell the most books, push the most product and hold the majority of the world’s men squarely by the balls. If necessary, not only will we rip them off without hesitation, we will fresh bake them cookies from scratch while doing it.
There is nothing I can say to you that hasn’t already been said about what it means to be your Mom. In our language, when we need to articulate the strongest expression of love, we simply speak of a mother’s. Then it is widely understood we mean the unconditional, all-consuming, head to toe, without judgement, completely intoxicating, makes up songs about poop kind.
But even if I do not have anything particularly original to say, I am saying it anyways. Because I need you to know that it is true.
On this day one year ago, I entered Motherhood as we all do – by giving birth. Like all new Moms, I was terrified. Birth is said to be one of the most painful experiences in the world. For what it is worth, I reject that. Not only is the pain factor over-rated, but we don’t speak nearly enough about how spiritually awakening it is. So many days go by without being fully alert. We get stuck in routine and normalize a predictable set of emotions. We yearn for days that call on fresh feelings and make time stand still. No day will ever matter more than the one we became your parents. Your birth was challenging by all standards and we encountered several risks, but we experienced each moment fully and with pure, unadulterated emotion. It was magical. Every ethereal moment is permanently etched into my memory. Remind me to tell you about the time I barfed all over your Dad 1 minute before you took your first breath. I’m sure you can’t wait.
You have filled every one of the 365 days since with love and awe. I have always been blessed to know what it means to love and be loved. Your G-Ma and G-Pa set a remarkable bar that has since been upheld by the rest of our family on both sides, a truly amazing global community of friends and your Dad, whose love humbles me each and every day. Still, a new kind was born in me through you that is utterly disarming. As Jerry Maguire once said (and successfully made many women cry), you complete me.
As a general rule, the greatest rewards are the hardest earned. Having babies is one of the exceptions – they are born every day and people have been doing it since the beginning of time. I fight to keep perspective and remember the world continues spinning outside the walls of our little cocoon. I do my best to stay informed and remain an individual. I try to stay connected and lend an ear to friends who date, but often feel like an alien looking in. I miss more workouts than I hit and my pants fit different than they used to. I certainly miss boozy nights and road trips with my girlfriends and long for international travel with a business suit and one rolling suitcase. But now and forever more, evenings watching you smash spaghetti into your hair while shrieking with delight are the best ones and waking up to your cuddles, no matter what time, brings the most joy.
You are surrounded with love and friendship. You were born into a remarkable community of loving and inspiring people stretched around the world. You have grannies on 3 continents, aunts and uncles on 5 and cousins all over the place. You have traveled to 12 cities in 4 countries already and slept in over 25 homes. Friends in 2 different countries battled on your behalf to deal with pesky visa issues. We haven’t bought you any clothes or toys, yet you have boxes full. In case you ever think that is average, it is not. You are remarkably blessed and we will remind you to be grateful regularly.
If you ever need to know what real love looks like, you can see it every day in your Dad’s eyes. Your father has an extraordinary capacity to love fearlessly; watching it, and him, grow with you is perhaps the greatest privilege in my life. I hope that neither of us ever take for granted how lucky we are to have such a committed Dad who loves you fiercely, is fully present and happy to play in the dirt with you.
You are a remarkable person already and we love you exactly the way you are. We have encountered difficult times this year and have seen some truly ugly people. You have made an otherwise dark time a most joyous one and allowed us to keep perspective. Your laugh is the greatest sound and a gift you give so freely. I hope it always comes so easily, but am already steeling myself for the day that it doesn’t. We want you to dream the biggest dreams and let nothing stand in your way. We promise to give our very best and do everything possible to help you become your very best, whether you want to be a violinist, figure skater or spelling bee champion. I would love to protect you from any and all hurt, but know that isn’t my job. It is my job, however, to provide you with everything you need to be a brave person of integrity, that works hard and stands up for what is right.
So Khaya, on your 1st birthday, thank you for choosing me to be your Mom, setting my heart on fire and filling my days with the ridiculous, blubbering, lose your mind kind of love. Cheers to another magical year. I hope I get at least another full one before you decide I am a creep for how I stare at you or sit near you just to smell you. You are so loved.