Courtesy Salvatore Vuono
Eleven years ago, I was impatiently awaiting the arrival of our first child. She was five days overdue, I was huge and miserable. I was also a bit scared of what was to come. It was my last day before motherhood arrived.
Tomorrow my firstborn child turns 11. I’ve often said that monkeys could raise her; she’s that easy. She was the baby who never cried unless something was wrong. She was the child that always sought to follow the rules. And she is now the young lady who seeks to create compromise and works to include everyone. But God didn’t give her monkeys; he gave her me.
Before she arrived on June 1, 2001, I thought I knew what it meant to love someone. I had no idea. I didn’t know that motherhood meant that I would hurt when someone hurt her. I didn’t know that loving her would sometimes turn me into a “momma bear.” I didn’t know how hard it would be to let go of her hand on the first day of kindergarten or how many tears I would shed on the last day of elementary school.
In the song “All of Me” by Matt Hammitt, there’s a line that says: I’m gonna recklessly love you, even if I bleed. I had no idea what that type of reckless love looked like until I became a mom. I didn’t know that I would bleed when she did until those bright blue eyes looked into mine for the first time.
As my older daughter stands on the cusp of the teenage years, I pray these things for her:
I pray you always remember that you are a masterpiece in God’s eyes. Never let anyone else’s words take away the power of God’s words.
I pray you continue to seek God’s direction for your life as you begin to make more decisions on your own.
I pray the world will never make you lose the compassion you have for others.
I pray you’ll always have a forgiving spirit.
I pray you’ll never lose your grit and determination.
I pray when tough times come, you’ll always know you’re loved.
I pray you’ll make wise choices when it comes to friends — and, yes, even boyfriends.
I pray you’ll always feel free to be yourself.
I pray you’ll never forget that God loves you — and so do we.
I know the next few years may be tricky — for both my daughter and me. Navigating the waters of the preteen and teen years is never easy, for parents or kids. I know that she’ll have days where she’s hurt, and I’ll have days where the reckless love of mommyhood means I’ll bleed. But I also know that she’ll always be a “heritage from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3) and I’ll do my best to help her “grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).
June 1, 2001, was a day my life changed forever. It was the day I gained the name I’ll be known by for the rest of my life, “Mommy.” And I wouldn’t change it because even though it means tears, heartache and frustration. It also means laughter, fun and joy beyond any I’ve ever known.
Happy birthday, firstborn child of mine.