Twelve

I think that it’s really hard to be a good parent…like there’s this thing that you love desperately and you always want to be around, and progressively over the course of its life as it gets more interesting, you have to let it go.” -Bex Montz

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Well Maia here we are again. Seemingly in a blink, you are another year older. I remember when I was a kid and adults would talk about time – shaking their heads they sighed and said, “it just flies so fast.” Back then, the years seemed to drag out ahead of me – endless days strung into weeks and months and years. It seemed plentiful and long. Even now, when I think of all those years it took to bring you to us, the seconds that stretched on and on, time interminable, counting my life in two week increments, waiting to see if you were coming to us yet…all of that is a flash to me now.

It’s unfair really how I feel like I had so much time before, and then that moment when you finally came to me, suddenly the hours turned into minutes. You are my marker. Before Maia. After Maia.

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Instinct informs us that we should grip tightly to the things we love most. Hold on for dear life; don’t let them slip away. But parenting comes with its own set of instincts and it seems that our whole lives after becoming a parent is about trying to balance that dissonance between those instincts.

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And so each year becomes more complex. In the beginning, I worked to keep you physically safe – I bought kneepads for your crawling months for chrissake, the best carseat, the warmest coat. I fed you only the best food and my heart blossomed as you learned to talk and then to tell jokes and then to converse and reason. In some ways, though it seemed so hard, those first years were the simplest.

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Because now, as you understand more it is harder to explain away the bad stuff. It’s harder to settle your fears because they are also my fears. I feebly offer words of comfort and we go out into the world together as activists. We speak our truth. We are both afraid of conflict but together we are stronger. We are becoming closer to equals.

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We cling to each other and make jokes. You are so damn witty with a sense of humor all your own. I know you can read my stress and try to diffuse it. I know when you are feeling your own anxiety and I take deep breaths, wanting my breath to become yours. We do this dance all the time.

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But I am still your mom. I still gather you in and we lie in my big comfortable bed together in the dark. I know when you are exhausted and hitting a wall. I know when your anxiety is getting the best of you. I am still your rock. We compromise – I read Harry Potter and you take a nap. I watch as you sleep, curled up in your blanket cocoon. You are still my baby. Always my baby – even as I let you go, little by little.

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Maia, as we begin this next year, sure to be one of increasing changes, joy, tears, heartbreak, expanding worlds, know that I am in your corner. I will make mistakes – I don’t want to let you go – but I will listen. I will keep setting up those safe boundaries and I will seek out places of goodness and kindness for you. I will make you take naps.

I will also keep opening myself to you. I have so much to learn from you. You are wise. You are smart. You are compassionate and courageous. The world has been so transformed by your goodness. Though I want to stop time so we can hang on every moment together, I know the world keeps spinning. I’m so grateful to be spinning along with you.

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Happy birthday, my brave little chicken.

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