I remember the first time I saw you, when I couldn’t quite catch my breath, and couldn’t stop shaking from the anesthesia, and I looked in your eyes, and suddenly, everything settled, and I was me again.
I remember the first time you stopped crying when I whispered “shhh,” and I was convinced you were the most brilliant child ever.
I remember when I accidentally dropped you off the chair, because I was used to laying you beside me after nursing in in the hospital, and oddly enough, the rocking chair didn’t provide that same protection.
I remember when you were crying and crying at two o’clock in the morning, and I didn’t know what to do next, and your dad suggested that I go sleep in the car, and take you with me. In February.
I remember the way you’d sob and fight and cry every night before falling asleep, crushing all of my dreams of “never letting my baby cry herself to sleep.” My baby needed to cry to sleep, but dammit, you did it in my arms.
I remember the way you’d fall asleep on my chest, every night.
I remember the way you crawled until you were a year and a half. Like walking was just not worth the effort.
I remember the way you dozed in the pram, and I’d walk for hours in the sunshine.
I remember your first word was “Dada” but you’d say my name all the time. Like “Mama” was code for pay attention to me. You said it when you were happy, when you were hungry and when you were said. Mama was your way of communicating.
I remember the way you needed stories and songs and hushing, every night. Until I was pregnant with Sam, and too tired for the elaborate bedtime routines, and you adjusted to falling asleep to political commentary – I’d record George Stephanolopolis every Sunday and watch it over the week to put you to sleep.
I remember when you cried so hard, all the time, and nothing I did worked. I tried comforting you, yelling at you, ignoring you, and in the end, just accepted that you had big emotions, and all I could do was try and help you survive them.
I remember watching you trying to navigate being the little sister, the middle sister, and the baby all at the same time.
I remember how you danced off to kindergarten, and Sam cried way harder than either of us, because he was so mad that I let you go.
I remember how much you loved being a big sister, and how excited you were about wearing matching dresses once Julie was born.
I remember how you struggled in elementary school, when you didn’t fit in, and didn’t know why.
I remember when you fell in love with To Kill a Mockingbird.
I remember when you found out about GSA, and how desperately you wanted to go.
I remember how absolutely delighted you were when you go in, and how thrilled you were, right from the very beginning, to be a part of it.
I remember your first Model UN conference, and how proud you were to be a part of that program.
I remember how hard last year was for you, how you fought and struggled and stood up to everything that happened. How you were a source of strength for the entire family.
I remember watching you blossom this year, how you very deliberately set out to be happier, to be a part of everything, and systematically accomplished that goal.
I remember every single second, from the first time I threw up with the morning sickness, to the first time I felt you move. The first contractions, the first time I saw you. The last time you nursed. The first steps, the first word. Every single second, right up to watching you walk across the stage to accept your eighth grade diploma.
Being your mother is one of the best and brightest part of my life, and I’ll forever be grateful.