Friday, February 11, 2011

I could never have imagined ...

My baby girl turned four today (yesterday, if you're looking at the time). Motherhood is absolutely incredible, isn't it? I mean, the last moments before and the first moments after? Crystal clear. Things I will never EVER forget.

I could never have imagined ...

... that my last pre-motherhood meal would wind up being grilled cheese and french fries at the hospital cafeteria.

... that my baby would enter the world two weeks early.

... the sound of my own mother's voice when I called her back to let her know that, yes, I WAS at the hospital.

... that my water would break while I was on the phone with one of my closest friends as I sat on the floor of my bedroom in my fairly new home, unpacking a box of random things.

Don't ask me where I was sitting for the rest of this discussion. Buy you want to know, don't you? On the potty. Before I called it that. To everyone. And their mothers. Could YOU ever imagine?

... what life would be like a few months after she was born. The crying. The colic. The reflux. The exhaustion. Have I mentioned the crying?

... that a hair dryer would be an essential item in my "keeping my baby calm" repertoire.
And yes, I am quite serious. Never tried it? New moms, be prepared. You totally SHOULD. And WILL. And then you'll thank me. I promise.

... the years

The love, the intensity, the exhaustion, the emotions, the screaming, the laughing, the amazing things she says and does ... the way her smile lights up a room, the way she laughs and makes me do whatever it was I did that made her laugh *again* ... even the way she bosses people around, in a sweet and nice way. Or not. Her sassy side. And then some. The way she sings. The way she dances. The way she moves with abandonment no matter where she is or what she is wearing. How she pairs stripes with polka dots, blocks with trucks and fairies with dreidels. How she saved branches from our Christmas tree, points out stop signs and white trucks and pretend barks at motorcycles because our dog does. The way she calls our cats "buddy" and "sweetie" ... the way she pets them and makes sweet sounds to them as she calls them to her. The way she talks about how she has four cats but used to have six and two are in Kitty Cat Hea"b"en. The way she knows that my Nana is in heaven, too. And that her uncle is my little brother. And how we go up to New York and up more to Maine, and Meme and Papa are down in Florida right now and coming up to North Carolina when they come for her birthday.

And then ... then I could never have imagined that as her fourth birthday came to a close my daughter would break my heart just a little bit.

Let me
back up a moment. She said goodnight to my mom and told her she wanted to go back to her bed so my dad could have somewhere to sleep. She wanted me. Then when I tried to lay down with her she reminded me that "I can go to sleep by myself because I'm four."

OK. I could handle that. "Okay," I told her. "Do you want mommy to tuck you in?" As I sat down beside her she turned towards the wall. She was crying. "Honey? Are you okay? Why are you crying?"

"I don't know."

"Do you want mommy to stay with you?" Nods and more tears. "Okay, baby, mommy will stay with you." More crying. Sobbing. "What's wrong, honey? Are you sad?" Nodding. Sobbing. "Why are you sad?"

"I don't know."

"Okay, honey. It's okay." Hugging. Sobbing. Hugging again.

"I'm sad because I don't have a card."

Then the whole world shifted.

I know I'm supposed to stop here. I know I'm supposed to use this as my ending. But I can't. I need to explain HOW she broke my heart tonight. On the night of her fourth birthday. As the beautiful day came to a close.

She cried because my husband and I did not give her her birthday card today. On her special day. We got a cake for her. We sang to her. We gave her some little presents (it was late, but her big present will be hers tomorrow) and then it was time for bed.

And out of nowhere she recognized that she got a card in the mail from her Meme and Papa. And Nana and Zeide gave her a card this morning. And Mommy and Daddy, well, we ... we did not.

And that, in that moment? Tore out my heart, shattered it and broke it to pieces.

Amazing, isn't it? She's only four. I barely remembered myself that we hadn't given it to her, but she knew. She realized. So I ran downstairs, left her sobbing in her bed and filled out her card. So rushed I left off one of the cats' names. I got her a pen and she wrote Angel on there for me. And then decided that I 'forgot to write that I forgot to give her the card,' so she wrote it. Herself. Sort of. And lastly, she said that I forgot to write that she is four. So I told her we'll do that tomorrow.

And she fell asleep, holding my hand, with the card in her other hand, laying close to her chest. I should have taken a picture, but I didn't want to disturb her slumber. And besides, it'll be in my heart and mind forever.

post was written in conjunction with The Red Dress Club's prompt this week. This week's prompt asked you to begin your piece with the words, "I could never have imagined" and end it with "Then the whole world shifted." I was supposed to stay under 600 words, and I *almost* did ... ehem ... if you only look at the wording in-between the required lines.


  1. Kids just have a special way of breaking our hearts, don't they?
    I had to laugh when you said she bosses people around. We had a meeting with my youngest daughter's teacher this week and he was talking about how she "shows leadership qualities but could use some work on being a member of the team and not necessarily the leader of the team" and I said "that is the nicest way I've ever heard to say SHE IS BOSSY." LOL She is a very bossy little thing!
    Happy Birthday to your girl, I loved this post!

  2. Your explanation for how you "Stayed within the 600 words" seriously made me laugh. As beautiful as the story is, the memories, the chatter about all the wonderful things your daughter does, you could have left a lot of that out and ended it a little faster. I can totally see it ending "I didn't get a card". Then the whole world shifted.

    I'm kinda glad you didn't though, because you have such a nice writing voice. I totally loved all the specifics about your daughter.

    --The Drama Mama

  3. You made me cry and laugh all at the same time.. FTR, I never give my kids cards :) Looking forward to tomorrow.

  4. The way she moves with abandonment no matter where she is or what she is wearing.

    I adore that line. How lovely. My oldest baby is turning five in a few weeks, and just saying that breaks my heart, a bit.

    They are amazing little people, aren't they?

  5. They definitely can break your heart. Happy birthday to your little girl.

  6. Awww...they have that special way of breaking ours too don't they

  7. Happy birthday to her! What a wonderful tribute you've written. :-)

  8. I smiled in commismeration. Laughed at the hair dryer. (We were a stove fan family.) And then became saddened by the card.

    Isn't it amazing how easily they can break our hearts? I read once that motherhood means wearing your heart outside your body. And it's so true.

    Lovely post. And I TOTALLY only counted 600 words. ;)

  9. We vacuum to calm the baby beastling. This was non-fiction right? So lovely, and such a great thing to have for her when she gets older, better than I card I'd say!

    Thank you for visiting me last week!

  10. Oh, I never would have thought about giving one of my kids a card!

  11. Kids always amaze me. This is such a sweet story to remember. I know it is the last time you will feel heartbroken, so I guess they are just all little stepping stones.

    Happy Birthday to your sweet daughter!

  12. Awww adorable. What a huge heart she has

  13. Oh young Mama, you have so much more to see and love and appreciate about your little ones, as they grow! And it never stops.....the pride, the love and the just shows itself in more mature ways through the years. I say that, tongue-in-cheek, and yet sometimes when I look at my youngest, who is 28, I see that little 6 year old who could talk me into a cookie with ease.

  14. oh the colic.

    although by the end of this I was thinking about how someday? I will be looking back on those days with fondness.

    and the card? you broke my heart too.

    great writing, you. :)

  15. oh... poor sweetie! it's funny, the things that affect them... and how hard their sadness hits us.

    and what about the hairdryer? color me curious...

  16. My daughter would TOTALLY do this to me. Putting cards on my shopping list now.

  17. so happy you linked up, Andrea! it's taking me forever to get through all these RDC posts, but yours was a treat to read, especially since my gals are only a year ahead of yours.

    i'm glad you had her card so you could run down to fill it out!

  18. I am in awe of her and her sensitivity. She's such a beautiful heart...just like her mom!

    Happy Belated Birthday to your beautiful girl! {{HUGS}}


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