I wanted to take the occasion to tell you some things, to tell you everything. Not as a daughter to her mother, but as a daughter who is a mother herself. I don't know that I could have understood before-all the things that mothers feel, all that they have to do and be for their children. I don't know that I really understand the totality of it now, but in the moment Katie was born, the moment I laid eyes on her and heard her cry, I got it. I get it.
And so I wanted to tell you how thankful I am for you. To tell everyone how thankful I am for you. To celebrate you on your birthday.
Before my own daughter was born, I worried that I wouldn't know what to do, how to take care of her. People kept telling me instinct would carry me through. And some things did come instinctually...like the overwhelming feeling of wanting to break a stranger's arm when they innocently reached into the carraige to pinch her chubby leg. Or knowing which cry means she's hungry and which cry means she's tired...(they all seem to mean she's hungry, for the record). But really, the true taking care of her part. The parts that matter, like how to love her; how to help her feel secure and safe; how to help her grow up confident and happy...those things don't come instinctually. Those things are there because you did that for me. I watched you do it daily for the past 32 years, and now I just hope I remember enough of what you did to pull it all off.
Because I did grow up secure and confident and happy. I have a wonderful, doting husband, and I ended up becoming a lawyer, like I always wanted to be, and now I have a beautiful daughter that I can see my beautiful husband in (except the hair, please God let her have my hair!). And I am happy.
And I owe it all to the luck of the draw: Getting you for a mother.
So while I am thankful that you changed your whole life and moved down to New Jersey, thankful that you will take care of the baby while I have to work, thankful for the countless dollars you have spent on me over the years...all the laundry you have done for me, all the meals you have cooked for me...and the daily visits to hold the baby so I can get a drink and eat something, I am most grateful that you have been a truly wonderful mother.
Because that gift is what will allow me to pass it on. It is the gift that your mother gave you in order that you might be able to give it to me, and I will hopefully be able to give to Katie.
This past week, Katie started to smile. And while she has smiled for her dad and her Meme, she smiles most often for me. Her mother. I think she somehow knows that her mother is the one who will love her, and soothe her and champion her more than anyone else ever will...and those extra smiles are mine for what I am slowly realizing will be the hardest job I ever have to do for the least recognition or reward. Knowing that she smiles for me that way, being the one who can make her do it, well that takes my breath away and brings tears to my eyes. Those smiles make all of it worthwhile. Those smiles are everything to me, they are what I am doing all of it for.
So on your birthday (work with me here...I realize it is technically the day AFTER), I wanted to tell you what a wonderful mother you are. Because you are. And I will try and remember to save my extra smiles for you, because you deserve them (and the lobster. You definitely deserved the lobster).
I love you. Happy Birthday.