Isla Rae – my bright and shining one…
I can’t believe that we are celebrating your 5th birthday this morning. Where have these sweet years gone? I know we have so many good times ahead, and I look forward to the beautiful experiences we will share together as you grow and continue to bloom into this amazing person, but as I kissed your head tonight once you drifted off to sleep, I couldn’t help but to feel this pang of regret. I knew I had to write this to you before the sun came up and we became distracted by that glorious heap of chocolate donuts waiting for you on the dining room table.
I missed you, Isla. Somewhere in those precious early days, I lost you in a fog of exhaustion and pain. My body wasn’t good to me when you needed me most. I could cry when I think of all of those irreplaceable pictures forever lost on that water-logged hard drive of the Mac in the basement. (Take note: Don’t keep your laptop on a bedside table nestled next to a tall glass of ice water…) I need those more than ever today, as I try so hard to remember you so new and so miraculous. Thank goodness for Facebook in that case. I have bits and pieces to look back on and cherish. So many snapshots of our days together. Some images are forever sealed in my memory. I can close my eyes and see you curled like a snail in my Serena & Lily pouch. The image takes me back to that quiet walk through town. You were just five weeks old. I looked down at you, fast asleep at my belly, and I knew I never wanted to forget what you felt like, in your smallness. If I take the time to remember, I can actually feel your weight, as if I’m holding you right now. How did you grow up so quickly?
I remember how alone I felt during many of our nights. Consoling you in the middle of the night seems like a distant dream. The aches and pains that plagued me robbed us of so much and the stress of life’s circumstances stole my thoughts from you almost constantly. And although I know you don’t remember, I decided to take on babysitting from our home, which definitely took a toll on the time we spent together, as well. I was reminded of all of that tonight, and, even though you couldn’t possibly recall those moments, I knew I had to tell you how sorry I am that our story didn’t start out better.
But before you think that this is the worst letter that a mom could ever write to her daughter on her birthday, I have to tell you something that will make all of that worth it.
Because of the pain…the distractions…the busyness…the trials…
Because of your mysterious, quiet spirit that has been from day one…
I got to fall in love with you, Isla Rae.
Of course I instantly loved you from the moment I knew of you, and that love became even more tangible once you were in my arms, but you were the child that I had to learn. And in that learning, I grew a love for you that has been so unique. It took work. While I sorted through my new self, I had to discover you, too. Your serious expressions, your smirks, and grins – all foreign to this heart-on-the-sleeve mama. I had to learn you, Isla, and it took effort and it took time. Today, as you turned five, I am a puddle. I am a puddle of emotions realizing how absolutely and utterly in love I am with you, precious child. I know you so deeply, and yet you are still such a mystery to me some days. Because I had to work so hard at cracking the code to your heart and spirit from the start, and at such a vulnerable time in our journey, I feel as though it is in you that I am so extra carefully and intentionally rooted. Not a day passes that you don’t completely intrigue and amaze me, and I adore you.
I love you more than chocolate donuts and Oreo Blizzards.
I love you more than “lippies” and nail polish.
I love you more than pony tails and haircuts.
I love you more than cake and ice cream.
I love you more than dresses and pool days.
I love you more than music and cooking.
I love you more than Red Robin and shopping.
I love you more than Christmas and birthdays.
All those things YOU love…I love you more than that. Forever.
I love the way you wake me up every morning and you sound exactly like your daddy, telling me to come downstairs and make you breakfast. lol
I love how I’m one of the few people that you willingly smooch on the lips.
I love that you are strong, yet remarkably tender.
I love that you randomly beg me to slow dance with you, and you let me hold you on my hip while we twirl.
I love that you love only banana yogurt and have the best taste in shoes.
I love that you say the strangest things pretty much all of the time. There’s no one even remotely close to having your humor.
I love that you are my chef-in-training for just about every meal cooked in our little kitchen. Someday, when I’m older, and you are in your own home, I will probably beg to come over just so we can cook together like “when you were little.”
I love that the kitten makes you jumpy. I knew you couldn’t be that cool cucumber ALL of the time. 😉
I love that you love to have your hair curled and remind me to grab the hairspray every time. You’re well beyond your years in the hair department.
I love that you love to shop and I look forward to the days that you’ll help me to look more presentable.
I love that you love your sisters and always put them before yourself. You show such maturity in that way.
I love that you keep us on our toes – your dad and me. Although, I better never see you climbing the windows again. 😉
I love your face. You are adorably stunning or stunningly adorable, probably both.
I love that you’re mine and I’m your’s.
I may have been a mess off and on these first five years, but I’m better now, and you have my heart, little girl. I’m so proud of who you are, and I’m so blessed to be your mom.
Happy Birthday, Sunshine. I can’t wait to celebrate you today.