You're sleeping as I type this. I'm sitting in the rocking chair in your bedroom, sipping a giant mug of hot chocolate (an embarrassingly rich cocoa-to-water ratio, in reality). I can see and hear you breathing. Your gentle snores are a comforting sound, keeping time with the rise and fall of your back. Today is Wednesday; it's been a long day, and this is a surreally peaceful way to wind down. After work today, I brought you home from daycare, made a quick exchange with our dear friend Ally, and scooted right back out the door to sit through my weekly 3-hour lecture about strategic management (which is about as riveting as it sounds). By the time I got home, you were asleep, which was just as well, since I was overdue for an appointment with the snowblower anyway. (Oh, and um... shouldn't a single mom get bonus points for owning & operating a snowblower??)
Wednesdays are inherently long days, but they're especially tough for me. And probably for you, too. I'd love to explain to you that I'm not really choosing to leave you every Wednesday, that this is just something that I have to do; but a part of me doesn't think you'll understand, and maybe it's easier to just masquerade each Wednesday as a recurring playdate. Yes. Yes, I think we'll go with that and leave the MBA part out of it.
I'm gone on Wednesdays, but not because of you. I'm gone on Wednesdays for you. Like so many other things, going to school is something I do for you. I so badly want to give you a beautiful life. I want you to learn manners, and I want gratitude to be second nature to you. I want you to be smart and happy. I want you to appreciate every good thing (especially every little thing) that comes your way in life. And I want you to grow into a beautiful young lady, someone who inspires and is admired by those around you. I want every choice you make to be a good choice (a little optimistic, perhaps, but I'll aim high). And
I can tell you from experience that it's a complete waste of time to regret choices you've made. I know this well. I think of the days, weeks, and months I spent hating myself for being pregnant. I remember meticulously and angrily counting every single penny that flowed in or out of my bank account for 9 months, desperate to save enough to cover expenses over an unpaid maternity leave. I recall countless nights spent alone in my bed, crying into an already-tear-stained pillow, wallowing in loneliness and wishing life had gone differently. Too often, I replay horrible conversations in my mind: angry words from an angry man who told me I could never do this alone.
But this week was proof that all those moments of regret were pointless. On Monday we celebrated your 3rd birthday. Your THIRD BIRTHDAY. Saying it out loud incites a strange, painful awareness within me, in the deepest hollow of my heart. The awareness that only a mother knows, whether she is a mother, once was a mother, or desperately hopes to be a mother. She knows the bittersweet sensation that accompanies her daily routine. She knows the internal struggle between rushing through the day and begging time to creep more slowly, in hopes that The Clock might afford her a few extra minutes here and there, allowing her to savor the sweetest moments in life. I'm guilty of both: begging The Clock to move more quickly, and pleading with that same Clock to slow down.
I can't believe we're here again, celebrating another trip around the sun. You have been such an enchanting addition to my life, each day validating the cliche thrown at every expectant mother: You won't remember what life was like before Baby was born.
My sweet Sol, I can never thank you enough for showing me how wonderful and fulfilling life should be. I have so enjoyed spending the last few years with you, and I am both excited and terrified to see you continue growing into the person you're destined to be.
I can't wait to regale a more grown-up Sol someday with tales of the wonderful little girl I know today. I hope to sit with you in a few years and show you photos of a 3-year-old Sol donning a baseball cap and pretending to be "the pizza man" (arousing a chuckle, while simultaneously sparking panic: How often do we have pizza delivered? Do we ever eat anything healthy? Could this be why she named her baby doll 'Papa John?'). I imagine snuggling together on a rainy Saturday afternoon, watching Aladdin and laughing as I tell you how you received that movie for your 3rd birthday, you were adamant that Aladdin was Ariel's dad, and I couldn't convince you otherwise. I think about our future conversations that will revolve around very serious things and will no longer include 3-year vocabulary like "rest'runk" (restaurant) or "Heavy-Fairy" (February).
Above all else, my wish for you is that as you grow, you will remember only the good things, and none of the bad. Please forget the hours we've spent in reversed roles, you patting the back of a lonely single mother crumpled on the living room floor after yet another rough day, telling her not to be sad, that it's okay and you'll take care of her. I hope you remember the evenings spent with a cheerful mom who has time to sit down and be served a 27-course meal from the kitchen in your playroom. May you forget our semi-nightly arguments that ensue after you've eaten only 2 bites of your actual dinner; but please remember being so thrilled over a bowl of yogurt that you're too excited to actually eat it. I hope you forget the tears that hit your pillow on those rare nights when you refuse to go to sleep, and I hope you begin each and every morning filled with the delight that I see in you now, the excitement in your eyes as you start a new day.
I look forward to waking you up every morning for as long as you will let me, and sharing your excitement about starting a new day. I look forward to rocking you to sleep every night and whispering "I love you" in your ear until we're both too tired to keep our eyes open. Thank you, my sweet Sol, for being you, and for sharing your life with me.