Dear Genevieve Ann,
It’s been a year since we welcomed you. A year since your dad and I found out that low amniotic fluid issues meant today was the day – go home, get your bag and go to the hospital. It was going to be someone’s birthday.
We didn’t know if you were a boy or a girl. We didn’t know how we would handle having two young children. We didn’t know how blessed and happy, how exhausted and overwhelmed we would be those first few weeks.
We had done this all before, with your big brother Jack, but still felt like brand-new parents. Just like your brother, you came into the world a few weeks too early, tiny, crying, jaundiced and with a full head of hair. And fast. You were so ready to be born.
And when we heard, “It’s a girl!” My God, the joy. And the fear.
For the past year, I’ve looked at you and wondered, how can I make sure it all goes right? When you have your first child, you realize for the first time how much your own parents love you. It’s all-consuming, and you call them right away (or think about it) and tell them, “Finally, I get it. How does your heart not break every single day?” And they tell you, it does, but you just keep going. And life comes full circle and you see, once again, that they were right.
But I was ready for that this time – for that intense love, so the emotion of it wasn’t as terrifying. It was still deep and real and consuming, but different. Instead, I looked at you, I look at you, and think, please, let’s have a wonderful mother-daughter relationship.
How do I make that happen? I can’t pinpoint when things went awry in my own family. It’s a slow burn, I guess. And now, we’ve probably all matured enough, or accepted enough, or just had it enough to think, “Let’s move on.” And we do, not forgiving and forgetting but instead just not bothering to be mad, to be hurt, to waste time and energy worrying about a past you can’t change.
Still, there are a lot of lost years there.
I don’t want to lose ours. I don’t want to waste a single moment I have on this earth with you. I want you to call me. I want to call you. I want you to know that every time, every single time you put your arms out, I will reach right back. I will pick you up when you are 2, when you are 20, and hold you tight, and tell you from the bottom of my heart, “I love you, sweet girl.”
And since you’ve been here, when my own mother calls me, when she hugs me, I give it right back. Because having you for a daughter makes me want to be a better daughter. I need redemption. I need to somehow be forgiven for being 11, for being a teenager, for being a haughty young adult.
I don’t want you to know these feelings. I want you to know right now, sitting there on the floor, staring up at me in your pajamas, that I will forgive you, no matter what. Always. That I love you, no matter what.
That when it matters, I’m here. I can’t shower you with gifts or money or probably even a college tuition payment. You just weren’t born into that kind of family, sweet girl. But you will know your entire life that you were wanted and needed. That, like your brother, you are the perfect child for us.
If I could have chosen, it was you I would have picked.
With your big deep blue eyes, just like your daddy’s. With your fuzzy blonde hair. Your tiny feet – my God, they are still so little. With this deep belly laugh you have. With the bizarre tripod crawl you do, as you race down the hallway to the bathroom and yell ‘Bah! Bah!” and point at the tub, trying to climb in. When you take your blankie, scrunch it up and shove part of it in your mouth and the rest all over your face, and fall right asleep.
Oh Viv, my sweet, sweet Genevieve. Please let me be the mother you deserve. And when I falter, which I know I will, please hug me back anyway. Do any of us ever stop just wanting to be loved?
Happy birthday, my beautiful girl.