It’s Her Birthday and I’ll cry if I want to

My baby turned 3 yesterday.

And anytime I talked about it, thought about it, looked at her, kissed her, wished her a happy birthday, I bubbled over with more emotion than my heart could process and as a result, it poured through my eyes.  I couldn’t handle the intensity, so I didn’t allow myself to think about it.

We celebrated together, though I kept somewhat at a surface level throughout our 3-year-old’s family party to try to remain as composed and present as I could.

But then, nighttime came.  I held her in my arms as she slept, and the quiet darkness forced me to confront my emotions I had so desperately kept at bay all day.  I stared at her face, her soft pink skin and gentle, gentle rising and falling of her angelic breathing.  And suddenly I entered this montage of moments of her life, a moving picture playing in my mind’s eye of everything Clarity.

I remembered where I was exactly 3 years prior, my body experiencing more pain and involuntary muscle movement than I ever thought possible.  I remember sitting in the bathtub with the midwives around me, hearing nothing but the feels of the warm water and hot labor.  The popping and pulling and pushing and stretching and bleeding, I remember her emerging.  I remember Shiloh catching her in the water and immediately giving her to me.  And all 3 of us flooded with overwhelming emotion, sobbed.  Time stopped.  Everything stopped.  I looked into her eyes, and it was like looking into the deepest places of my own soul.  A mini-me.  Her eyes like galaxies, deep blue ocean waters, entrancing , entrenching, mesmerizing..  She came from me?!?  Her squawks and hollers that only a minute-old human can produce..  I remember feeling like I wanted nothing more in the world than to hold her, to hold her always, ALWAYS.  “I will never, ever leave you,” I whispered to her, not really knowing what I had committed to.

I remembered her infant days.  The nights that bled into mornings with sleep deprivation that morphed into human desperation.  I remembered the deep depression being a first-time mom threw me into, and the depth of love I had for her that would pull me back up.

I remember the grunts she made as she found my breast and nursed.  The way her head whipped around when she heard music.  The way she bopped and plopped and lit up around strangers and friends.  And her deep-ocean blue eyes.  Enchanting me.

I remembered her first year, her milestones.  Her walking, her talking, her humor, her playfulness.  I remember her destruction, her chaos, her messes.  I remember her mind-blowing creativity and mischief.  I remembered her second year.  Her language development, her singing, her adventures and explorations, her problem-solving, her falling in love with cucumbers and Princess Sofia.

Tears fell as I remembered these moments.  The sweetness, the pain, all of it.  Tears.

And I realized why.

Parenthood is all about helping your child to need you a little less every single day until they get to the point where they don’t need you at all and are able to leave.

And that is the very most painful thing, and yet it is that which defines our very success as a parent.  In other words, good parenthood is DEFINED by pain.  The pain of losing the thing that you love more than anything else you’ve ever loved, slowly, gradually, a little more everyday.  And we are supposed to encourage that, teach that, and rejoice in it.   But really, all I want to do is cry.  Every single day, I rejoice in Clarity’s growth, in her becoming the most beautifully intelligent flame I’ve ever seen.  But every moment that passes is another moment that she needs me a little less.

Someday she won’t need me at all.  She who was conceived because of me, she who clung to me and looked to me to fill every little tiny need, in whom I gladly gave of myself daily.

Someday she won’t really be mine at all, she will just be her own self.  And I love that self of hers so deeply, I love to get to know it more and more everyday as she continues to emerge out from me.  But that separation, as beautiful as it is, is defined as me letting go of that which I love most.