You don’t know it, but it was a day not too different than this one that you stop breastfeeding on. It was cool that day as well, but what I truly remember was the way the sun rose perfect at the end of the street and came in the side window to shine on your tiny face as you nursed. I don’t know how, but some way, I knew it was the last time and I buried myself in that moment deeply. I remember exactly the size of your fingers in that instant, how the wrinkles on your feet were smoothing out into something that resembled what they would become. Baby fat was already giving way to a form that will carry your onward and upward into the world. You smelled like baby wash and a breath smell that only mothers never grow tired of… a mix of milk and perfection. I know how you fit into my arms and the feel of your skin on my lips and the side of my face. I watched you and you watched me… I gently caressed you and, in return, you caressed me back. It was like the world slowed down for us to have a moment of perfect conversation about unconditional love – what God must feel when he looks at us and sees our very best selves.
( link to video pictured above: https://www.dropbox.com/s/uy2iirb0t48qpv1/_351886.flv )
I’m glad I didn’t realize then how quickly the moments would pass after that one. Right away and always after you were walking & running, you never crawled, and while I offered you breast and bottle after that morning you did what you always do when you make up your mind; you bull-rushed forward, heedless of anything but your goal. No one has ever been able to tell you their time table, not even when we tried to bring you into this world. Due July 4th, induction started July 8th and it wasn’t until July 10th that you decided to finally grace us with your presence. Pacifiers? You had one. We tried to take it from you one day when it seemed you might be ready and able to give it up… you let us know in no uncertain terms that you were, in fact, not yet done with the stupid little thing. Two days later, what did you do? You toddled over to the trash and threw it away with a clap for yourself – your father and I stood there with a mix of exasperation and amusement.
“That’s our Winnie.” We’d say to everyone and those who’ve known you your whole life agree.
Today is your first day of first grade. I’m past the horrible crying that I did on the first day of Kindergarten, but as I watch you dress, eat your breakfast hastily, and insist on going to the bus stop five minutes before the time that I think you should go – I can’t help but wax nostalgic. You’re still plowing forward, obstacles and advice be damned! The world is a harsh place, but you’re ready for it… and I’m sure you could care less if it’s ready for you or not. All smiles and hope, promises of success: “Winners don’t quit momma, quitters don’t win.” That really sums you up, doesn’t it?
Dressed in your Hello Kitty pink and black, you’re more than just a pretty girl… even your clothing shows that, your frilly pink skirt topped off with a nod to classic gaming – a Hello Kitty pac-man shirt. You’re a mix of everything your Dad is and I’ve wanted to be. Attention to detail, a passion for all things which bring people joy… stories and games, as well as a softness and empathy that people use to attribute to a younger me. You also, regrettably, can be a bit of a clutz like your mom… a mess of scratches and bruises on your long legs and arms. You don’t complain too much though. You’re tough and with every Tae Kwon Do practice you go to, your grace grows.
I imagine the woman you’ll be when you leave home. She’s smart and headstrong, pretty but tough and confident, oh so VERY confident, probably more than my nerves will easily bear. I’ll cry when you get into your car that day too. I’ll wax nostalgic just like I am now; but I’m beginning to realize that every goodbye we say between now and then is trying to prepare us for that big one; so that maybe there will be the same resignation that there is this morning too. A feeling that the moment, like this one, was just another unavoidable moment that came up on us as quietly as the sun rising that morning.