Last night I showed Addie a picture of her that I'd posted on my Facebook page. In the picture she is a spiky-haired one year old with green frosting covering her nose. It's the requisite "we let our kid smash up her own cake" first birthday photo. This was before people started making applesauce lentil cakes topped with blended kale, or whatever they're doing now. Maybe it was already a thing not to let your kid have sugar. In our family, you grow up knowing frosting.
"Do you remember that?" I teased her.
"No! It was so many years ago. How can you even remember that, Mom?"
I assured her it was not that many years ago, it was a blink.
"For me that was a whole lifetime ago," she said. And then she looked at me like I was ridiculous.
She's twelve today, and if I think about it too hard I get a big lump in my throat.
She is wonderful and sensitive, in so many ways the person I wish I could have been when I was twelve. Yet she is distinctly of both me and Eric. I find her existence to be just as overwhelming a miracle as I did the first time I heard her cry on the morning of November 16, 2002.
I didn't sleep the night before she turned one. I was up all night making a scrapbook for her, dripping tears on the photos and pretty paper. I cried some more on the keyboard, trying to get out my big, sloppy feelings. I wanted to let her know how much she changed me, our family, the whole world. I was afraid that night. Those tears were panicky. Her first year had been so good and special that I was worried it would change at one. I was worried she'd be big and wouldn't need me.
But she doesn't remember that night. And she doesn't remember the day before she was born, the twenty six hours of labor and the dropping heart rate and the machines and the exhausted, fearful decision to do surgery. She doesn't remember her orange fleece outfit or the knit beanie she wore home from the hospital that made her look like a pumpkin. She doesn't remember bottles in bed and sleeping in with Dad or the way she would grip my thumb as I would guide her chubby arms into the holes of a onesie. There's so much she doesn't know.
Her birthday is a reminder of how lucky we are to share her, how much her humor and wit and creativity make all of us better. How great each stage is. How much she's grown into this human who does things and knows her own beautiful world. But it's also, weirdly, a reminder of so many memories she doesn't have. The way we waited for her. The way we wanted her. The way we rolled out of bed a million times to answer her cries. The way we'd let her tiny body curl into sleep on us, and the way we'd give anything for it now.