What You Don't Know

This is the fourth draft that I've started for you today, and that seems only fitting, since it's your fourth year of life that you've started today.

I don't really know what to say to you, sugar. You don't even really get what the whole "birthday" thing is yet, beyond the presents. You don't actually know what birth is, come to think of it. You like to catch me fresh out of the shower and make me squeeze the sticky mulk out of my boooobeeees for you to see, and you know that babies drink milk from their mommas, but you don't realize that you did, too. You know that babies can be in a momma's tummy, and that one day they are out, but you haven't put two and two together on that one just yet.

You have no idea that everything changed the day you were born. You don't understand that events can change people yet, mostly because the grandest event in your life to date has had to do with an imaginary blue hedgehog. You don't know that I am a person yet. Right now, I am your momma just like that leg is your leg or that doll is your doll. You still possess me, and you couldn't understand that, once upon a time, you were part of my body, even if you wanted to.

You don't understand that the photograph on the wall of your brothers and some weird, bald baby is you. It can't be you. You are this big with that much hair, right momma? You don't own that dress, so it can't be you in the picture.

What is it is that you have no concept of the past. You can't comprehend growth or age yet, so this arbitrary number that people keep throwing in your face today, sticking in your cake frosting, calling you and singing...none of it means anything. Your favorite number is two, so that's how old you are. You don't know what being two means, just that it feels good in your mouth to say.

What I want to tell you is that four years ago you defined me. That more than being their mother or his wife or her best friend, being your mother has been the most life-altering path I've ever walked. It's not that I love you more than those people, it's that the love is different. I look into your brother's eyes and I see my heart. I look into yours and I see my flesh. It's different.

It makes me understand, this having you, why the stories of god and creation being with the man and lead to the woman, bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh. I feel that when I look at you. I feel you under my skin and in my hair and coursing through my veins every second of the day, every day of your four years of life. Creation of woman is the most grand, crippling, powerful thing in the universe, and I did it just once. The further you grow from me, the more I feel the loss, because you are my very life. I gave it to you the day I bore you, wet and wrinkled, into your brother's arms.

When I had your brothers, I learned how very wrong everything that my own brother and I survived was. I learned to hate those people who had hurt us so many times over, for so many years, and who continue to in their absence. Your brothers showed me that there is a natural order to things, an instinct that prevents people from torturing their young, and it showed me finally that it wasn't me, it wasn't us, it was them who were broken. Your brothers gave me walls of strength and reassurance.

And you tore all of them down.

I see you cry and I can't for the life of me imagine what it did to the very souls of the people who made a hobby out of making my brother and me cry. I put bandaids on your boo-boos and I wince in pain with you, and I wonder what kind of monster you would have to be to rip flesh off of a child, just because you own a belt and you're taller. I feel what it is like to be mother to a daughter, I am swallowed in the magnitude of this greatness thrust upon me, and I find myself feeling something I've never felt in my entire life...pity.

You've helped me to let go of my rage and my blood-lust for those people and pity them. I don't want to forgive them, I don't intend to forgive them, and I'll never pretend to understand them but I've learned that I can feel sorrow for the loss of what they never really knew they had. They wasted their entire lives never once seeing what I see in your face every day. They've lived out their years never feeling what I feel every day in your arms.

And as for me? I can give all of that love, all of the touches and kisses and snuggles that I'd accumulated over those 17 years I spent trapped with those monsters and I can hand it all to you. I can give your every beautiful memory I imagined I'd have if things we just different. I can teach you to nurture, I can create a woman, I can right the wrong and make you stronger, better than I ever could have been anyway. I know that you've come to replace all the hurt and the hate that was beaten into my body, to fill that space, and I know that I'm okay with letting it all go for you. I don't need it anymore, I just needed you.

You can bring silliness back to this home of very large, very grown people. You can remind us of quiet bathtimes and lavender lotions and plastic xylophone concertos. You can take the traditions I've created out of starlight and dust and keep them alive for our whole family. I watch my middle son take your face, hold you close to him and say goodbye to his little three year old, then tell you how excited he is to meet his big four year old in the morning, and I know that we are all okay.  I know that I've made it all right, that it's all come full circle and I've not only broken the chain, I've made a brand new one for you. For all of you.

Thank you for that. Thank you for all of this. Thank you for giving me a soul again, and filling it up. I promise, I'll guard it, and yours, and all of ours, with my very life.