My eldest turns 22 years old today.
I made her this card:
I distinctly remember writing her this blog post when she turned 12.
In the blog post, I write the following:
I have seen her struggle – struggle with employing tact vs honesty, struggle with her need for independence vs her need to feel taken care of, struggle with the choice to spend time with family or friends, struggle with the need to be alone with the desire to still feel included in our family shenanigans, struggle with discerning what she wants vs what we want vs what she thinks we want her to want. I have seen this in her distance even though she is sitting across from me at the dinner table. I have seen this in her eyes as she faces decisions that I will no longer make on behalf of her...
I’ve just let her be. I have instinctively followed her lead. I have been quiet when she needed a listener. I have spoken up when she needed to feel supported and validated. I have held her tight when she has been frustrated trying to find the words to match her emotions. I have been patient when she has been impatient (for the most part). I have let go when she needed to breathe her own air and live her own life. I have ached at every “I love you Mama” because I know it’s not a reflex statement but a declaration of gratitude and appreciation.
I wrote this a decade ago and it still rings true.
The difference today is that she lives over 3000km away from me for most of the year. Today I am grateful that she is with us. For now.
For now I see how she wakes up in the morning after missing most mornings with her for the past four years.
For now I am able to sit with her at the dinner table and try to figure out what she is thinking or try to spoil the book she is reading because I just finished it. (“So are you at the part yet when Circe goes to get the tail????”…“Mom, stop it!”)
For now we can do the same workout in the same space.
For now she is part of the chore chart which the others have been changing to “include” her more.
For now I can lie on the hammock with her.
For now we can read Women who run with the wolves, our novel study book for the last year, and discuss it in person. (We started it when she turned 21 and are still moving slowly through each chapter.)
For now she can share bits of her life – photos and videos of her friends, regale stories (I am assuming extremely filtered stories) of her trip to Miami, and what her life has been like.
For now she cooks with us while we dance to 80s and 90s music.
For now we are all together again, our family of seven.
Although I know she would have liked to celebrate her birthday with her friends back in Toronto, I love that she is here with us for her 22nd birthday. We gave her tiny presents of comfort – a mug, a washcloth that she needs, chocolate, a notebook, handmade bracelets by #4, a custom drawing from #5, and a Japanese pen.
And I wish her the same thing I did a decade ago. At the end of that letter, I wrote:
“Yes is a world, and in this world of yes live all worlds.” e.e. cummings
12…always say ‘Yes’ to this day. this moment. this story. this life.
Love: Mama and Daddy
To never stop saying yes even when there is so much to say no to.
To say yes even when the world doesn’t thing it’s safe to.
To say yes even when you are curious and uncertain.
To say yes to doing the work…
Love you, #1.
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