To Eliana, on her 4th birthday.Friday, October 18, 2013
I remember that day, the day you were born. The day I labored for hours and hours, then pushed for hours more. I remember the eclectic group of women that gathered in that room with me, encouraging me, holding my hand, and freezing their rear ends off because I demanded that the room was too hot. I remember the way your daddy looked on that grainy computer screen, sitting against a concrete wall, mostly silent, waiting, watching, and then tears on his face when you finally emerged and were laid on my chest. I remember the way you cried, and then how you quieted as soon as you were placed by my face. How you stared up into my eyes, for what felt like hours, taking it all in, almost as if to make sure it was really me, your mama.
You made me a mama that day. Me, the woman that felt more like a scared little girl. Me, the one surrounded by precious sister-friends and my own mom, and family and nurses, and half-eaten pizzas. Me, the one dating a boy I loved, hoping one day soon he would get down on one knee and ask me to marry him. Me, the one who knew, at that moment, as you gazed in my eyes, that you were all mine, and that I would do anything to love you well.
I had no idea what I was doing. I remember everybody leaving, and it was just me and you in that hospital room. I was excited and terrified all at the same time. There you were, this little wriggling, crying baby, the one we had been waiting and waiting on. And I had no idea what to do with you. Do I hold you? Swaddle you? Lay you down? Do I sleep? Or nurse you? How do I burp you? Do I dare let the nurse take you away? Oh how I learned. And quickly! I guess I had no choice. And was eager to take on the challenge of figuring life with you out.
We had something special, you and I. Most likely because it was just you and I for a long while. Your daddy and I got married just a few short weeks after you were born, in a whirlwind engagement and wedding. But not two months later, he deployed for a year, taking his full bags and half my heart with him. That next year was just you and me. Even though we found out there would be another baby born just a year after you, it still felt like it was just me and you taking on the world, going on adventures, hanging out with friends, getting to know each other better.
You have taught me more than I could ever have imagined. You have exposed parts of me I never knew existed. You have challenged me to the core. You have shown me so much about life, and how to live it with joy and grace and peace. You have taught me that beauty is found in the smallest of things: in the dandelions in the sidewalk cracks, in the sip of hot chocolate, in the thrill of hide-and-seek. You have opened my eyes more and more to the sweet grace of Jesus, and the fact that He is constantly calling us back to Him, that He is always there, arms wide open, waiting.
I look at you, my dear daughter, and see a brave soul. A cautious spirit. I see a determined and inquisitive and opinionated and goofy little girl. I see beauty and hope and joy and a memory that can out last my own. I see a precious gift, one entrusted to me, to raise up, to love on, to take care of. When we named you Eliana, we did so because it means 'Yahweh has answered us'. Because, of course, he had. In little and big ways, in ways you may never realize, in ways I have figured out, and in ways I am still sifting through. God knew what He was doing when He gave you to us. Your life has changed me in ways I never thought possible, and you have taught me so much already in these short four years.
I can not wait to see what you continue to teach me, dear girl. I am proud to be your mama.
Happy 4th birthday, Eliana, the one who made me a mama.