21

We woke before dawn. I showered, dressed, then looked through the hospital bag for the thousandth time. We stepped out into the dark cool of the day you would be born.

There had been this moment, the night before, when I was almost sad that the secret of you was about to be over. The way you would turn somersaults in church and I was the only one who knew. The quiet conversations we two had when no one else was around. And yet, I craved your little body. I ached to finally nuzzle the warm soft of you. To see your beautiful face.

The nurses laughed at dad as he “conducted’ you into the world. He was supposed to count 10 as I pushed, but he always stopped at 8. He could only group beats into fours. 🙂

I can see you cringing at this, but I love this memory: The nurse commented at one point that you had lots of hair. Dad said, “You can see her head?!” Then, of course, he had to see your head too…

There was pushing. There was pain. And then, there was you.

You flailing and reaching and breathing air. You sticky and red and perfectly wonderful. You soft and warm against the outside of me.

I have never

gotten over

this.

And now, my darling daughter, you and I have laced together 21 years of being and knowing together. What do I say of this?

Do I speak of the stories you told at your 2nd birthday party? Of how we used to wake up and find Jake’s bed filled with toys you had delivered to him? Of that delightful habit you have of singing while you work? Of Arabia, sleepovers, movies, friends?

I have been challenged, dear one, to love better because of you. You have taught me much about being a mother. About being a human. And your generosity to others…especially to the unseen…inspires me and makes me want to be more like you.

We have had some fun, have we not? I especially treasure the time we had, just us girls, traipsing across Europe. Living out of our backpacks…in hostels…on the cheap. And having a BLAST!! Thank you for that.

Today, you are an adult. Truth is you have walked in the shoes of an adult for some time now. Quite admirably, I might add. Seeing you mother your little one is a joy. When you come in the door with shopping bags bulging and a guilty look on your face and everything is for  baby…when the two of you giggle in the back seat on road trips…when I see your gentle patience with your daughter (a quality woefully lacking in me at your age)…when you rise early, again, to go to work and build a future for the two of you…I am in awe.

The first time I held you in my arms, dear one, I was smitten. Forever. But I had no idea how rich, and magical, and difficult, and funny, and wondrous the next few years were going to be. Twenty-one years later, I love you–and like you–more than ever. I am very glad there is you in the world. In my world.

Happy Birthday, dearest Kelsey! God grant you many, many years!