10

An open birthday letter to my eldest daughter.

Dear Blondie,

You’re officially 10. Double digits. A tween. How in the world did this happen? And when I say how in the world, what I really mean is HOW IN THE HELL but that’s not okay for you to say right now because you’re 10.

IMG_3647

But how in the in the hell of a world did this HAPPEN? You were just born. I was just holding you in my arms and you were falling asleep while I sang the lyrics to Blackbird. And why did I always sing that song to you, my newborn infant turned toddler turned girl child? Sunken eyes and broken wings, not so warm and fuzzy. A bit morbid for a baby. So nice to meet you, tiny human, now go to sleep while I sing to you about a dead bird. Of course, I get it, I know symbolism when I see it. But I find it compelling that I would sing to you about the Phoenix rising and you would lie there, having nursed, looking like a wee and happy drunken sailor in my arms. A perfect bundle with peach fuzzy hair and velvety pink skin. That little O you would make with those baby bird lips. Those teeny tiny fingernails, and how that one time I clipped your pinky because can it really be possible that fingernails come that small? It was, and you howled in pain and so then I cried, and then you drank from my breast and all was right with the world. Everything was always all right after those moments of closeness.

I had the power to make it better.

I won’t lie, becoming your mother was one of the most soul-satisfying jobs I could ever hope to have. And I haven’t looked back, not even for a fraction of a second. My Dad, your Grandpop, always used to say that in college I majored in People. I think that’s about right. I dig community, I’m like an archaeologist of the spirit. With perhaps a minor in Connection.

And so, connect we did. From the day you were born, you were keen and enthusiastic about life. Always up for an adventure. Always gratified in nature. Chock full of giggles and guffaws, you laughed at any and every thing. Comedy was your bag. You have always adored animals and used them as pillows whenever the opportunity allows. You have always had a kind heart, sensitive to others who are hurting, aware when friends are feeling left out. And dogmatic from the start, you were my little CEO — right out of the gate. No one was going to push you around. Boys that were bigger than you and being unjust? Knuckle sandwich on a plate — that, my dear, is what you’ve always served.

IMG_4157

Some of my favorite moments with you are the dance parties in the kitchen, where we Cha Cha and breakdance and moonwalk, channeling Fred Astaire and Michael Jackson and Tom Cruise in his Risky Business or even couch jumping days. The history of dance so often takes a tour of our living room. I also love having you come into my bedroom, as you do each morning, and Velcro-ing your long body next to mine. Still my baby girl but not unlike a big foal, my lanky tween, all arms and legs.

You are a love. And also, some days a bit of a crab. But unfortunately I’m your mom, not your friend. Saying that is a little tough for even me to swallow, but it’s true. I’m doing my best to guide you to the edge of the nest. I’ll keep your wings appropriately clipped for now, but when you’re ready…and I think we’ll both know when that day comes…I’ll be here to watch you go, to support you and love you and to stoke the home fires for those days when you return.

Meeting you was the best day of my life. Yet knowing and loving you has meant so much more.

IMG_3084

And that Phoenix? That’s not you, my sweet girl. You’re the baby bird and there’s a vast expanse of blue sky out there waiting for you. That bird, rising from the ashes, will be me. Because when you and your sister are grown and have gone out into the world, I know myself. I know my heart. That space that you both so lovingly fill will be broken wide open, and I will have to light my own way. Finding a path of not only having just been your mom, but a path that leads to a place of so much more, having known and loved you as my own. And just as I have tremendous faith in you, so do I in me.

Happy birthday, baby. Now would someone please spin for us a little PYT.

xoxoxo,

M.

 

 

 

11 thoughts on “10

  1. Hope Timberlake

    Wow Elle – you achieved a perfect blend of poignancy and humor. It’s a beautiful love letter to Hope and to yourself.
    Well done mama!

    Like

  2. elizabeth m cooke

    Oh, my….to the beautiful mother who was once my little bird, I thank you for this writing. You have captured motherhood, following a child from first moment to double-digit age. There is nothing else like it, and you convey this beautifully with humor (well, duh, you’re Ellen, right?) and great feeling. Hope Timberlake called it “a love letter to Hope and to yourself,” which covers it all. How proud I am of the flight you have taken and the flight that lies ahead, and for that daughter, well, I am eternally grateful to the forces that brought her, the exact and only Hope, to my life too.

    Like

  3. Well done E. The first time I met Miss H she had just turned 4. How is it possible she is now 10?!? Even from an observer, time has flown by. But also, she has grown and matured so much, and is really blossoming into something beautiful! So, keep nurturing, mama!

    Like

  4. Lisa Molloy

    Love this. What I don’t love is that our paths rarely cross these days! Saw the new Yoga space as I was leaving Bruce’s tonight. Let me know when you’ll be teaching. I’d love to come try a class. And let’s try to walk/run/have coffee sooner than later so we can catch up. Have a great weekend! Xo Lisa Sent from my iPad

    Like

  5. Hi Ellen. You don’t know me, but I’m a friend of Christine’s in Madison. She shared your post with me, and it is just beautiful. I also have two girls and my older one is turning 10 in 2 weeks, and I saw myself and my daughter in much of what you wrote. Your writing is so lovely and the messages are so poignant. I hear lots about you and your girls and hope to meet you all one day! Best to you. — Alix

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s