Oh little girl…I remember the first time I saw you. After a pregnancy filled with more stress than I needed and a couple of scares as well, you came into this world screaming your tiny little head off, tied to a cord with a pretzel knot in it. A knot that by all rights, should have taken you from me. A knot that we didn’t know was there, but that made you come almost a month early. It was then that I realized two things; how fragile you really were and just how much you meant to me.
So here I sit, 10 years later, looking back on that day and on our lives since then. It’s so hard for me to believe that you are 10 now. More than halfway to when you can leave home for college, more than halfway to when you’re a legal “adult,” and no longer my little girl that you were just a couple of short years ago. I will admit that I’ve cried, in secret, more than a few times this week. You are my baby, my only baby and you’re actually growing up. That wasn’t planned for was it? Nah, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t planned for. 🙂
You may only be 10, but you have been through so much in life. Much more than you should have been at such a young age and there is no one else responsible but me. I put myself into bad situations and you were just dragged along for the ride. In my mind, I will never be able to make up for the damage that I allowed to be done. For the first 5 years of your life, we struggled; both of us; just to have something that looked like a normal life. You don’t remember this, but in those first 5 years we moved so many times. 11 times before you were 2 1/2 years old actually. We hardly had any money and if I was to be 100% honest, I would admit there are people I likely still owe money to from that time period because I always had to borrow from people just to make your basic needs. I can remember buying diapers for you one night and paying ALL in pennies.
It breaks my heart to know that more than once back then I would sit and tell myself that you would have been better off if I had given you up for adoption. That’s how bad things were. I never could have done it, I loved you too much before I even laid eyes on you…but when you think like I did back then, sometimes you just can’t help the negative thoughts that come. Life just seemed so bleak during those years. It seemed like we’d never get on our feet and like neither of us had much of a chance. It wasn’t that we were alone. I’ll admit to thinking that we were, but looking back now I can see that we never were. It was just that the circumstances at the time made it hard for us, but you are so forgiving Emma and I don’t think you will ever know just how much that means to me.
Fast forward a couple of years and something happened that I never thought would. I woke up. Sober for the first time in 2 years….in a homeless shelter with you at my side and almost 800 miles away from anyone or anything that I knew. I don’t think that you even realized how scared I really was. I like to think that I hid it well from you. You were so little then, only 5; I didn’t want you to see the fear that I felt every single day. I was terrified that we would end up actually living on the streets. I was terrified that I couldn’t do it on my own. I was terrified that you would be permanently damaged…and most of all…I was terrified of losing you.
Somehow though, we muddled through though, didn’t we Kiddo? You and I pulled together and became a team…making it through what will likely be the hardest time of our lives. Together, we got on our feet and now live a life that I never thought we’d be able to. I know that some people will say that you didn’t have much to do with it, but you did.
You never let me quit…even when I felt like doing nothing else. You never complained when there just wasn’t enough. You never took issue with the fact that it was just me and you..when up until that point you had always had a “father” figure. You always had a hug and a smile for me when I was exhausted. You never laid blame or complained, no matter how much I failed or how many hours in a row I worked. You never stopped loving me…even when I didn’t deserve it. It is, simply put, only because of you that I became the woman and mother that I am today. Had I not had to be certain you were taken care of, I would have likely just given up.
You gave me the hope that I needed to pull myself up from rock bottom.
You asked me yesterday why it bothers me that your hair is getting curly. It doesn’t bother me…its something entirely different. I see so much of myself in you already that it terrifies me. In the way you look, in the way you talk, in your sense of humor, your temper, your sense of justice and especially in the way you act. You truly are my little Mini-me and yes, that scares me. It scares me for one reason…that you will make the same mistakes in life that I have.
The next 8 years of your life are so important Emma and I can only hope that you will be a bit (okay, a lot) smarter about how you use yours than how I used mine. I know you have your own hopes and dreams in life, but I have so many more for you.
You are and can be so much in life Em and I pray every single day that you never lose sight of that or think otherwise.
I pray that you never even hold a single drug, let alone use it. That is a battle, my dear girl, that you will never be ready to fight and one that too many people lose each day.
I hope that you fight to make every one of those lofty dreams you have come true….even the one about being famous…or a teacher…or whatever you’re dreaming of being today.
I hope that you let your imagination flow as you grow and that someday, your imagination takes you farther than you ever could have dreamed.
I pray that watching my own battle with alcohol has taught you to stay far, far away from it.
I pray that you always remember to dance when things are tough, laugh when you feel like screaming and that a hug will generally fix just about anything…at least temporarily.
I hope you have flour fights in the kitchen when things are tense…for no other reason than to lighten the situation.
I hope that you really do learn to see the beauty in every situation around you…no matter how grim.
I hope that someday, you’ll come to terms with and figure out your own faith…and that whatever that faith may be, that it lifts you up when you need it, carries you when you can’t walk and embraces you just when you feel like there is no one left.
I hope that someday, you will be able to look back at your Mom and be proud of her.
I pray that despite the people that have hurt you, that you still learn to trust others.
I hope that you learn that Anne Frank really was right…and that people, in general, are typically good.
I hope that you learn to make the perfect pizza and that when you do, you’ll brag on it.
I hope that you continue to let a love of music and the beauty within it to carry you when you’re feeling down, angry, tired or even just really bored.
I hope that you never stop learning.
I hope that you will take your education and run with it. Hit the pavement Em and never look back.
There are so many more…too many to list really, but most of all?
I pray with everything I have that you will never change who you are. Beautiful and smart; funny and sometimes silly; spitfire when you’re mad; compassionate and headstrong; stubborn and emotional; loving and honest; independant and determined, but most of all?
Momma’s girl to your core.
Happy Birthday, Em. May the next 10 years of your life be a time of growth, love and happiness more than you’ve ever know. Momma loves.
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