Nine years ago right now I was sitting in a bed on the maternity ward, making phone calls. “It looks like the baby is coming early. I won’t be able to come to the event tonight. No need to worry. Can you bring me apples? I’d love apples.” When I wasn’t organizing, I was joking with my husband. He was working hard to keep the mood light, which wasn’t particularly easy as I was worried about having my baby at 34 weeks gestation.
From the moment Hannah came shooting into the world, skidding across the table while a room full of medical personnel gasped, it was clear that she was a force to be reckoned with. Big and healthy for a baby born six weeks early, she let us all know she had arrived with a hearty cry. At the time, I was relieved. Crying was a good sign. Crying meant she was breathing. Crying meant she was going to be okay.
I am no longer the same person I was on that sunny, cold day in 2005 when my life changed on a dime. My daughter isn’t the same person, either. And yet, if I survey our new little family I can see how the groundwork was laid, even then, for all that followed. I can see how my daughter has always been in a rush, eager to do everything quickly, quick to make her voice heard. I can see how I have always been dragged headlong into parenting, never quite ready, always a little worried about how things would turn out. I can also see that it was always going to be fine.
Today, as I celebrate my daughter’s ninth birthday, I don’t really know what to say about her. My girl is entering tweendom, growing like a weed, learning new things every day. She loves art and diaries – Hannah can never have enough diaries. She’s a huge fan of Harry Potter, and this past year we read all the books together. She has a fervent desire to be Hermione Granger, and to that end she’s perfecting her English accent. She tap dances through her days, singing as she goes.
Hannah is very much her own person, now. I find myself writing less and less about her here, because her story isn’t really mine to share anymore. She’s writing it down herself in all of her diaries, illustrated with her own artwork. More and more, I sit back and let her work things out for herself, test her strength, and make her own decisions. I’m still here to set boundaries and help her pick up the pieces, but I’m increasingly taking on more of an advisory capacity than anything else.
Nine years ago, I became a mother. It wasn’t like a switch was flipped, though. Rather, I have continued to become a mother, each and every day. My daughter has been there with me every step of the way. It hasn’t always been easy, but we’ve figured it out together. As I survey the young woman she has become, I can only feel proud and amazed that she is mine. My daughter. My Hannah. Happy birthday to both of us.