Dearest Isabella {a birthday letter}

Dear Isabella,

Eleven years ago today I welcomed you into the world.  You were everything I had dreamed.

From your birth story:
With a rush that was almost anti-climactic her body slid out of mine and my husband and midwife brought her up out of the warm water and onto my stomach. I reached down to take her into my arms and was overcome by a wave of emotion so powerful it left me breathless. This beautiful, perfect creature was my baby, she had been created in love, born in love and I was determined that she be raised and surrounded by love all her days on the earth. A wave of strong, visceral, fierce mother-love flooded through me. I knew without a doubt that I would lay down my life to protect this helpless little being. The journey to this point had been so long; sometimes beautiful, others times arduous, but always amazing. In an instant it was over. The past year flashed before my eyes in that one moment as I held my baby for the first time. Conception. Pregnancy. Labour. Birth….. Mother.

When you were just a wee babe, I remember emphatically saying “I expect my children to question authority.  Yes, even mine”.   I must have known – somewhere deep inside – that you would be you.  Somehow sensed that this questioning would not be an option but, instead, the driving imperative of your existence.

You, my darling girl, question everything.  EVERYTHING.  You are curious and investigative and obstinate and stubborn and insist on understanding the world on your own terms.  You have a great sense of personal justice, a deep ability to explain your emotions and a level of reasoning that belies your age.  You have a fearsome temper, a delightful sense of humor and you are a deep as the ocean that calls us home. You break before you bend, but you have learned to pick up the pieces and rebuild yourself in a way that teaches me about the grace within the ability to be born and reborn, over and over again.

You push me to the limits of all that I know.  Patience.  Understanding.  Logic.  Love.  There is nothing small about you.  You are as unapologetically you as anyone I have ever met.  You are impossibly loud.  You are wild and crazy and fun.  You can be impossibly selfish.  You can be incredibly giving.  You are a study in contradictions, just like the rest of us.  But unlike many, you accept and embrace your contradictions.  You see no reason that they need conflict.  They are just all a part of you.

You reject anything remotely tinged with girlie (a dirty word, to be sure) and instead love legos and weapons and wrestling and all things traditionally considered the domain of boys.  But still, if anyone asks, you respond emphatically that you are a girl.  This – to you – is not an issue.  You like what you like.  Play what you play.  Do what you do.  Not once have I ever seen you question the rightness of simply being who you are.  This makes me prouder than you could ever know.

You hate to write and anything even remotely sounding like school work.  But when life pushes you to the edge you –  just like your mama –  turn to words. After a fight I have grown to expect a written note slipped under my door – sometimes full of righteous anger, other times sweetly apologetic.  Almost always making me laugh at your precocious and often entirely egotistic understanding of the events that have transpired.  Never failing to leave me in awe at your ability to articulate and understand your existence in this world. Although you regularly drive me to the edge and beyond, these little notes touch something deep within me, and remind me of the many ways we are exactly alike.

You are my mini-me.  You, quite predictably, hate the frequency with which you are told this.  At your age you can’t see anything good in being compared to your mother.  But I see myself in your face.  Hear myself in your words.  Feel myself in your heart.  We are joined, you and I, by something deeper than mother and daughter.  Some complex alchemy of spirit that has been present since before you were born.  It is precious to me, still steals my breath.  I hope we can always reach it.

You are entering a tremendously tender period of life.  Like many adolescents, you are both deeply in love with your life and frequently and tragically misunderstood. You move from painful sobs and threats of imminent runaway to hugs and kisses and ‘you’re the best mama in the entire world’.  You yell and scream easily, slam doors, look as if you should burst from the energy of the emotion contained within your body.   You come down quickly too, and apologize and seek comfort, always, in my arms.  You once explained to me that when you are in emotional pain you can feel a giant, burning hole in your chest.  “Yes baby, I know” I replied. “I know it so well

When you were three I wrote this blog post for you.  I found it again recently and was amazed at how true the words still are.

She’s all of the above and so very much more than cannot be reduced to mere words.  She defines explanation, just like all of us do, complex and complicated and wondrous and fantastic.  Simple as can be, yet mysterious to me – my daughter is so fascinating that my study of her is a vocation in and of itself.  I aspire to understand her, yet know that I never really can, and wouldn’t really want to.  As soon as I figure something out, she changes before my eyes, and in striving to understand her I get precious glimpses into the wonder of biology and divinity and human nature and my own mixed-up self.

She is Glorious.  Celestial.  Earthly.  Spontaneous.  Guarded.  Inspirational.  Frustration-al.  She’s a Thinker.  A Doer.  A Live Wire.  A Deep Thinker.   

She is Glorious.

Yes, my girl, you are glorious.  You are tremendous.  A force to be reckoned with.   You have grown so big, but the twinkle in your eye and the freckles on your nose remind me that you are the exact same baby girl I fell in love with one September night, 11  years ago.  And every night I lay with you in bed.  We cuddle, and I scratch your back and play with your hair.  And you ask me impossible questions that I haven’t a prayer of answering.  And when I get ready to leave, you throw your arms tightly around me, trying with all your strength to keep me there with you a little longer.  It reminds me that, as big as you may have grown, you are still my little girl.

You will always be my little girl.

Happy Birthday, Isabella.  I love you, beyond.