My heart physically aches when I look at you. I wonder what it must be like to walk through the world looking like you. I believe God gave you your beauty because it doesn’t faze you. If I looked like you I’d be incredibly insufferable. I’d wear my hair down every day, and shake it back and forth constantly. I’d slap everyone in the face with it. I’d turn my dimple and smile on in every occasion, to charm the socks off of each bank teller, bag boy and server. I’d never wear shorts over my swimsuit, so people were forced to admire my beautiful legs. I’d be really annoying; I just know it.
Do you even know how special you are? Not just to look at, because there is far far more to you than a beautiful face. You are so genuinely unique. So smart. Creative. Helpful. Outgoing. Funny. Fierce. Moms appreciate you with their children. Teachers appreciate your passion for learning. I appreciate how helpful you are to me. You sometimes complain about putting the dishes away or washing the wall, but I know you’re just a kid. I ask you to help in a million little ways, and you do it. It’s sounds so cliche, but you can truly be anything you set your mind to. As long as you don’t want to be an orangutan or a penguin or something like that. You have had a pull towards science and medicine for most of your life. Lately you’ve had a passion for baking. A couple of weeks ago you said that you had finally figured it out; you would be a doctor with a special order cake and cupcake business on your days off. You know what? I really believe that you can do that. There is not a doubt in my mind.
I remember the night after I had you. It was getting late and I was left alone with you for the first time. Even Daddy had returned home to get some sleep because he had a big test in the morning. It was suddenly just you and me, and I was so overwhelmed with knowledge. I was the boss of you. I was in charge. I couldn’t believe that I was just allowed to be the mom in whatever way I saw fit. I feel like that was just four days ago, and now you’re 5’2″ and ten years old and when you sleep you take up the entire bed. Where did the time go? Have I been doing it right? Are you going to be my best friend when you are an adult and call me everyday? It feels like that is the only option. If you decide to move to Montana, or if you are too busy to take my calls; if you only visit on occasion and I don’t get to be the one to take care of my grandkids… I feel like my heart would just stop beating.
You were fiercely independent as a toddler, and crazy-sassy as well. There were occasions that your stubbornness reduced me to tears. One day when you were about 18 months old I had put you into your crib for a time-out. You had tried me one too many times, and I needed a moment to myself. Almost instantly I heard your bedroom door crack open, you rounded the corner, crossed your arms across your chest and said, “Hi.” You drew that word out in a way that really meant, “In your face, mom.” After that I could never contain you in your crib. When you were finally 2 I was giving you some sort of toddler lecture when you looked me squarely in the eye and said, “I love you Mrs. Hannigan.” How??? How could a teeny-tiny-angel-baby burn a grown-up so perfectly? Do toddlers usually understand and employ sarcasm so perfectly? Is that amazing parenting or a complete failure? There was an almost instantaneous change in you when you turned 4. But that fierce independence is there. That comforts me: perhaps you won’t be so easily swayed by the first boy to say I love you, or the first friend who attempts to get you to make a terrible choice. Perhaps your independence will carry you confidently through middle and high school. Perhaps you will always find it cool to be just who you are. I hope so. Who you are is pretty amazing.
But sometimes your independence scares me. You pull away easily. You rarely initiate hugs or kisses anymore. You have only cried for me once since you were 3. Will you even need me in a few more years? I can’t stand to think that you might not.
I am putting in the time with you baby, initiating billions of conversations, because I want that to be your normal. What do you do when you have a problem? You go to your mom. What do you do when you have a question about faith, or science, or friendship or sex? You go to your mom. Remember last summer when I was attempting to have “the talk” with you? I blathered on and on about growing up, and open communication and blah blah blah, and then I asked you if you had any questions. You sat pensively before saying, “I just have one question. Are the Addams Family real?” I laughed so hard. What a relief to know that you were/are still a little girl.
You think it’s hilarious when I lose it in traffic. “Mama, be nice!” you cry when I call someone a butthead, but you are laughing. I secretly think you like to scold me. You have pretty great comedic timing too. Once I was just getting ready to pull onto the 10 at 5:00, the freeway straight from Hell, and I was vocalizing a prayer for peace and patience. Within seconds of Amen I was cut off and I lost it. “Well that didn’t last long,” you said, turning the mood in the car to one that was much lighter.
It hit me in the car yesterday: I am living in the most important years of my life, but you are living in your childhood. You have already forgotten so much, and by the time you are grown you will have just a handful of memories, while I am clinging to these years as if that is all there is. Your most important life will be your husband and children, not me. That is the way life goes. I burst into a hideous cry right there on Long Beach Boulevard when I realized that, while you laughed at my hideous cry face. You were never one to coddle my emotions. I think I need that sort of tough love sometimes, otherwise I can be crippled at sadness at the thought of you growing up. Yes, it’s beautiful, but man it hurts so much.
I have amazing expectations of you, Jordan, but I know that you are only human. You will mess up. You will make a terrible choice or two. You will disappoint me. You will likely crack my heart right in half; as I have done to Gramma and Popo on occasion. Do you know that’s ok too? I will never stop loving you; for any reason, for any choice, for any failure. I will always want you to stay forever with me. I am always going to think that you are infinitely more awesome than other people. And because I am your mom I don’t feel like I have any delusions in that.
I know it wasn’t your choice to be mine, but I am just so grateful to God for giving you to me. It was after your birth that I truly realized for the first time just how much He loves me. He gave you to me. I don’t deserve such a gift. I hope you will forgive the mistakes I make too.
I love you Jordan. And you won’t know just how much until you are first left alone with a precious little baby on a dark night in a hospital. Then it will hit you that you are in charge, and you never knew your heart could feel like this, and you’ll feel a little sorry for me that you didn’t realize that you were literally my entire world. And as the years pass you will mourn the growth of your own little worlds. Maybe like me you will cry as you hold your little baby, and your toddler, and your little girl. And you too will appreciate these awesome years when you are mostly just mommy.