Thursday, August 10, 2017

Turning 11 // Nora 

Oh Nora.
I dreamt of you.  
Long ago, I dreamt of you.  
What you would look like and what you would be like and what we would do together and what you would enjoy and how your laugh may sound and who you would become.  
 I dreamt of your crinkled nose and your squinty eyes.  They are identical in shape to my Nanny's and when you look at me, she is near-I can feel her.  You came to us just 6 months after she met Jesus and now I believe your souls must surely have crossed paths somehow along the way.  The veil between Heaven and earth is so thin, Nora.  You also share her freckles but they are quite unique to you as I never had so many and your brother doesn't either.  
They're so beautiful. 
 You turned 11 almost 11 days ago and I'm just now finding time to sit long enough to wrap my head around it.  Mostly because you keep me really, really busy.  
But don't.  

At 11 years old you are really very calm.  You like to stay up late and sleep in later.  You like to lay in bed and be alone.  You like to listen to music when you fall asleep and you loved playing softball this summer but made it clear you really only wanted to play for fun (though you were actually quite good and could have been really competitive).  You are anxious for Jr. High and will do well because you enjoy academics.  You take pride in learning and are a naturally intrigued human.  You are smart.  And not just book smart but very, very wise.  And you want to be smart in all the right ways so you ask me alot of questions.  You don't want to be a naive 11 year old and I have stood by my word and honored my commitment to be honest with you in all things.  Sometimes our conversations get a little heavy for your age which makes me feel conflicted but I always remind myself that we are having those conversations because of your life experience.  It has been unique for an 11 year old and I cannot every compare.  You are opinionated and defiant and we argue alot.  I like your character but am trying really hard to find a way to teach you to keep those qualities and use them while also being respectful. 
 I have been watching Aunt Jeni with baby August and asking myself the age old question 
'Do I miss it?'
because I'm tellin ya, kid, everyone in the world adds more mom-guilt to every single stage of parenting by saying, "Just enjoy it.  You're going to miss this age more than anything and it will be over before you know it!"

So I'm digging into my heart and my mind and my spirit and I'm asking myself, 
'Do I really miss it?'

And the truth is, baby...
I don't.
 Here's why:
When you were a baby I loved every second of that.  
Ok, no I didn't.  That's a lie.  No mom loves every single second of it.  If they say they do, they're lying too so don't believe them.  It's hard and lonely and scary and  
But, I did enjoy it.  
I was present in it. 
There were months and months that you and I shared all alone when you were just a tiny baby.  We lived far away from our family and your dad was gone and I soaked in all of you.  I prayed over you and danced with you and fed you and was completely and totally selfish with you and loved you in the very best way that I could love another human.  
I gave you the very best of me.  
 And I loved you the very best I could love you at that exact time.  

And then your brother came and I spent countless hours feeding the two of you and walking you in strollers and sitting on the toy room floor with you and cleaning up after you and changing you and pouring milk and giving snacks and turning on cartoons and giving medicine when you were sick and I gave you both the very best of me then, too.  
And I loved you the very best I could love you at that exact time. 
 And then your sister was born and looking back you were both still such babies and I was still doing all of those same things only I added a newborn into the mix and I think I was clinically insane but I was still enjoying motherhood in that very moment because I really wanted to be present with you guys and I cherished you then as much as I cherish you now and I always have and I always will.  

And I had dreams for us.  For you and me.
And your brother and your sister and our family.
And those dreams sorta got crushed in a multitude of really huge f'ing ways.  
And that could have blown the entire 'be present in the moment' thing out of the water.  
I could have stopped being engaged with all of you and I could have definitely stopped participating in this motherhood game and checked out.  I could have thrown in the towel and wallered in the dirty, yucky pit that satan tried to make of our lives.  
But I didn't do that baby! 

Because I love YOU and your brother and your sister more than anything in this world.
More than life.  
More than breath.
More than actual air.

I love you more than destruction and more than death and more than disappointment and more than shattered hopes and way more than destroyed dreams.  I loved you enough through ALL of that to stay right here with you.  To stick it out with you...
no matter how ugly it has felt some days.  
No matter how awful my attitude is, or how irritable we are with one another or how nasty we treat each other.  No matter how downright terrible it all has felt or may feel, I have loved you and will continue to love you enough to stand right here with you in it; feet planted firmly beside you in this life until we make it all the way through. Our boots may be cemented in the mud at the end of it all, Nora, but it will be you and me, hand in hand; side by side...
dirty boots next to dirty boots. 

Because I am your mom, Nora.  
And I dreamt of you, long before you I knew of you.  
Long before I saw you, heard you, or even loved were a dream in my heart.
One that can't ever be shattered. 
 ALL of my dreams came true 11 years ago when you made me a mom.  

On this birthday I couldn't help but feel a little bit sad, of course.  You are growing and changing and you are going into Jr High and some of the memories you will start to make will stay with you forever as opposed to the childhood ones that may begin to fade.  That is both a really great and exciting thing and also a scary and sad thing (for a mom).  I feel scared in some ways that we will have this epic disconnect and I will miss something major and everything will separate our hearts.  I think that's a normal mom fear but I just have to say...I would give anything in the world for that NOT to happen.  I am worried that you will grow distant or that time will escape us and soon you will no longer want to share lipstick or for me to braid your hair.  I know that it's all normal and rather than feel sad about those things happening I just want you to know that I will embrace the time that you will share with me and I will not look back and 'miss' these days either when they are gone.  I will just be really, really present with you now so that we can enjoy them fully while we have them.  [And also, my lipstick is always yours to wear and I will always braid your hair]
I think I was a lot like you, Nora.  
I think I had a strong will and a smart mind and a fierce heart.  I think I knew what I wanted and I was going to get it no matter what it meant.  Sometimes though, that meant that I didn't listen to my own mom and I wish more than anything I would have just stopped and leaned into her for a hug and tried to hear what she was telling me.  I wish I would have eased into her with a little more gentleness and let her guide me with her experience.  I realize you may not do that either and so I'm just putting this out there for the world to see already:

I love you and no matter what you do in this life, nothing will ever change that. 
I will support you and stand by you and believe in you always.  
But I will absolutely stand in opposition of your decisions if they are morally or ethically corrupt and already, at 11 years old, you have a pretty good idea of where you stand on most things.  

I'm really proud of you Nora.  
You are beautiful inside and out. 
I am here for you always.  I am your safe place.  There is nothing you can't tell me and nothing in the world that can separate you from my love.  Don't ever forget that, ok?

Happy Birthday, baby.  
You'll always be my first baby and for that, I am so grateful.

Love, mommy.  

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