I thought I knew
It doesn’t really seem possible.
She was born on a Sunday, five years ago today, changing our lives forever.
I labored in the hospital thinking I was very prepared. Our home was stocked with diapers and wipes, teeny socks and hats and onesies that looked more suited for a teddy bear than a person, rattles, feeding supplies and a stack of books to help us feed her, bathe her, put her to sleep and diagnose illnesses. I had no idea none of that would matter because there is no substitute for my own instincts and in the middle of the night no book would help me comfort my crying child.
Nothing could prepare me for the challenges of parenthood – from the soaring highs to the lowest lows. The daily grid that necessitates the constant changing of hats: disciplinarian, soother, entertainer, negotiator, counselor, decider, enforcer, protector.
I thought I was a wise woman, educated and well read. I was successful in my career. I didn’t know how much I didn’t know. I had no idea how often I’d find myself wondering what I was supposed to do next or second-guessing my decisions. I didn’t realize that children aren’t scientific case studies whose outcomes can be predicted with research and data.
I thought I knew what love was. I have loved parents and aunts, cousins and grandparents. I have loved friends and pets.
And I loved a man. I loved him deeply. One day, I married him and our love grew even stronger.
I thought I had dipped into love’s deepest wells, but I’d only been swimming on the surface. I had not experienced the depths of love that are so dark and cold and terrifying. I didn't realize love could put every fiber of my being on edge, keeping me up at night wide-eyed and worrying about horrors both real and imagined. I didn’t know love had the ability to overcome me – holding me in its grip and making me shake for hours after my child ran toward a busy road or teetered unsteadily at the top of a tall flight of stairs.
I also didn’t know how boundless love’s joy could be. It is a love that’s delivered daily with wispy curls toppling over eyes, giggles from the center of the soul, eyes sparkling, footsteps running, voices yelling, “Mommy! Mommy!” and arms wrapped tightly around my neck.
I didn’t know any of this until she arrived – all six pounds, three ounces of her— five years ago today, changing our lives and catapulting us from “couple” to “family.”
I thought Mark and I were joined when we married, but she bonded us together in a way that made marriage vows and rings seem superficial and silly. She shaped and molded us into two new people with different values and perspectives who would never go to sleep at night again without thanking God for being so infinitely blessed.
She is a joy.
She is full of life.
She is full of love.
Happy fifth birthday, baby girl.