I remember the first time I heard my daughter cry. She was still in the womb. The doctor had just cut me open to bring her into the world and she cried before they could lift her out of the protective cocoon of my body.
I remember the feeling of my heart leaping out of my body, of wanting to still her cries, of wanting to hold her forever, to never let her go, to always keep her safe.
And I remember how helpless I felt in that same moment when I realized I couldn’t stop her cries, couldn’t keep her within my body forever. That this was the challenge I would face for the rest of her life, to love her and to let her go.
I remember thinking that my job as her mother wasn’t to stop her from growing but to create safe places for her to experience life, in all its complexities, ups, downs and sticky places too.
I remember realizing that life is its own journey and that the greatest gift I could give her would be the confidence to navigate hers independent of the lifeline of the umbilical cord that had connected us for those 9 magical months I held her safe within my womb.
And I remember the pain of having to acknowledge I was not all powerful over her life, and couldn’t, shouldn’t, mustn’t be.
I remember when I realized that even though she was separate from my body she would always have my heart, always be a part of me. That I was forever changed because of her presence in this world. A presence that was made possible because of the mystery and magic of this evolutionary process called birthing life.
That moment of hearing her cry inside the womb was 33 years ago this Wednesday. I heard her cry at 10:38pm. And, ever since that moment, I have experienced the incredible joy and fear of being her mother.
Joy because she is so miraculous, so magical, so incredibly unique and special and wondrous.
Fear because I cannot protect her from all harm. Cannot prevent the world from invading her life in ways I cannot conceive of, in ways that will challenge her, stretch her, break her, and ultimately strengthen her.
My eldest daughter turns 33 this week. In the 12,037 days that she will have been on this earth come June 19th, there is not a moment that I have not given her my heart, given her my love or wanted only love, safety and joy for her.
And while I know that I have always wanted only those things for her, I also know I have been the cause of pain, confusion, fear, anxiety, loss, separation in her life.
It is all part of life. Part of being a parent. Part of giving birth to a miraculous being of light and love; to want only the best for her, and to have my humanness be the cause of her pain.
Alexis turns 33 this week. I am so blessed to call her my daughter. To witness her journey from infant to child to teen to young woman to mother.
Becoming a mother was more than just bringing a child into this world. It has been the most excruciatingly beautiful journey I have ever had the privilege of experiencing. It has been a journey of unprecedented joy, of incredible love, of finding myself beyond the realm of who I thought I was as I became what I never imagined I could ever be, a mother and a grandmother.
I am so blessed.