Then (May, 2005)
Today we celebrated Mother’s Day by celebrating Charlotte’s birthday. Last year I let Charlotte write her birthday blog. This year, I want to take that job back and wish my beautiful daughter happy birthday and thank her for being my reason to celebrate Mother’s Day.
For Charlotte the birthday is all about the cake. I made cake for school on Tuesday and made another cake today. Today, we made the cake from scratch. All went well until I took the layers from the pans. One layer completely (or nearly) crumbled. The other almost split in half. The icing wasn’t quite spreadable enough. I did my best to “glue” the cake together with the icing, giggling and commenting about the pathetic-looking thing the whole time. Finally, my wiser-than-her-age daughter said, “Mommy, you really need to forgive yourself. It doesn’t matter what it looks like. It matters what it tastes like.”
It’s hard to believe that at at this time five years ago I was recovering from a c-section and a tiny little Charlotte was in the special nursery at Prentice Hospital. I had not yet held her. Since we knew about her heart, she was closely monitored and by the time she was fourteen hours old she had been transferred to Children’s Memorial Hospital.
On May 16, 2005, the anesthesiologist carried our tiny love to the operating room. My husband collapsed in my arms and I, seven days post-surgery myself, held him up. I realize now that I had no idea what we stood to lose. My own surgery and my dogged focus on the “here and now” prevented me from imagining anything past that moment. As I look back, I think that I had not yet truly bonded with Charlotte despite having sat by her side for as many hours a day as the nurses would let me.
Last week I randomly flashed on that moment. I had to pull the car over and give in to uncontrollable, inconsolable sobbing. Clearly, we had a wonderful outcome in 2005. And now I fully understand what we might have lost. The thought is paralyzing despite the fact that Charlotte is happily asleep in her bed.
On May 16, 2010, we will celebrate Charlotte’s birthday with her classmates, her closest friends, her babysitters, and one of her grandmothers. I can think of no more fitting day to celebrate than the anniversary of the day that Charlotte was really given to us, full of potential and hope.
Now (May, 9, 2010, Cafe 28)
Charlotte, as you enter your sixth year, I wish you the evolution of your unbounded curiosity, the continued growth of your unrelenting optimism, and the full blossoming of your potential. You have taught me how important it is to slow down, reminded me how joyful it is to discover a new book or acquire a new skill, and shared with me more love than I ever knew was possible.
And, in case you were wondering–that pathetic-looking cake was absolutely DELICIOUS!