Dear Kaz and Irenna,
Today I turn 40. That’s old, or young, depending on whom you ask. But I don’t care about what anyone else thinks about the relative age of 40. I only care about turning 40 in respect to you two. Today you are three months and one week fresh in this world. And while you can bet on the fact that I’m going to do everything in my power to be around when you turn 40, today I can’t seem to get past the fact that I might not make it there. (Yes I’m being morbid, and I googled it– the average life expectancy in the US is 78.74 years).
Here is the thing–I remember when my mom and dad each turned 40. But you wont. And while I remember the celebrations of my parents birthdays and the “40 and Sporty” t-shirt I picked out for my dad, I don’t know what they were like when they were 40, what their wishes and dreams were, what they were afraid of, what they were proud of and what they wanted. Your grandparents are alive today and I could pick up the phone and ask them those questions, but what I really want is to ask them those questions 40 years ago. Because this birthday seems big and scary to me and I’ve been trying all day to figure out why while knowing all along it’s because it’s my first birthday as a mom.
So today, below, I will tell you what I hope, what I’m scared of, and what I know. Use this when you want to know me better, see proof that no one, ever, really has it figured out, or remind me that I didn’t know how to keep your neck cheese at bay or adjust a car seat, either, when I started.
Here is what I hope: that you will be strong and vulnerable. That I will learn how to be a parent who is content and happy with any iteration of our time together. That I will find a way to work in the world and make a difference while staying true to my evolving desire to spend time with you. That we will explore the world powered by our feet and arms and lungs together. That one day you will both nap at the same time. That you will forgive me for the mistakes I will surely make. That I will forgive myself.
Here is what I’m scared of: That you won’t like climbing. That you will like climbing. That I’ll die before I know you as adults, that any of your six grandparents will die, that the poodle will die. That when any of the aforementioned loss happens that I won’t be able to take the pain away from you. That you will want a cat.
Here is what I know: being a mother has already been the most powerful force I’ve ever felt in my life. It makes me gasp. It makes me weep. It makes me love you so fiercely I am afraid I will burst. And it makes me happy. Everyone says it goes to fast. I understood that when you were less than a day old and I already wanted to go back and hoard the moment I first held you in the world again and again, and again. Each hour and day that go by make me want more of you. And let’s be clear—not more children because you’re it for dad and me. But more of each of you. More time, more kisses, more smiles, and even more poop if it would give me everything else. And I also know that time will not suddenly expand and gift me more of itself and thus the only way to get more of you is to be vigilant with our time in the world.
And that is me at 40: exhausted, inspired, and awed by the two of you. I’d tell you more but it’s time to stop now and go to bed. Let’s all get some sleep. We’re going to need it—we have our lives together in front of us.