March 31, 2003

Those of you who have been around here for a while have likely met my dad. And if you’ve REALLY been around for a while, you have probably heard me say that he was a middle school principal for the better part of forty-five years.

At every seventh-grade graduation, my dad would address the audience of proud parents. “Sixty months,” my dad would say. “Sixty months. That’s all you have between now and the time they leave your house. Sixty months.” He’d wait – let them chew on it for a moment. A gymnasium full of heads would slowly begin to nod as they took it in. Their kids were off to high school. Five years later, they’d likely, in some form or another, be heading out into the world. Five years sounded like a lot. Sixty months did not.

Luau and I took the girls to the last moving-up ceremony over which my father presided before his retirement. Just as he always had, he reminded the room full of parents and grandparents just how fast their time with their children would fly by. I looked around as he spoke. While the parents in the crowd looked surprised, the grandparents nodded knowingly. Some wiped away tears.

My dad never stops reminding me how short a parent’s time is with their child. Every time he visits, there’s a point at which he looks at the girls, wells up, then turns to me with his head shaking and says, “That was you, Jessie. I swear, just five minutes ago, that was YOU.”

When Katie turned nine recently, he immediately told me that I had less than a year before she was in the double digits. Seven before she was driving. “For God sake, Dad,” I said, “can’t ya just let her be nine?”

He laughed. Because after all, that’s the whole point of the exercise – making sure that I remember how fast the time will slip through my fingers. Reminding me to cherish each and every age – each and every phase, stage and moment. Because no matter how trying any of them may be, they are finite. Our children grow up.

Today, my baby girl turns seven. It makes no sense to me. Seven. No matter how many times I say it, it still sounds like someone somewhere must have forgotten to carry the one. There’s got to be a mistake. Seven.

But no, there’s no mistake. Somehow, it has actually been seven years since the day the nurse first handed me my beautiful baby girl. Seven years since the day that my heart exploded without warning, splitting open to make room for her to crawl right in. She made herself a home there. She’s never left.

In these seven years my little girl has taught me so very much more than I could ever dream of teaching her. She has shown me what it means to love without judgement. She has led me to a well of compassion and empathy and understanding. She has pushed me to be a better mother, a stronger person, a more open friend and far more engaged member of a community.

She has taught me that each and every one of us has a responsibility to learn from and about one other, to share our stories, to look past our fears, our insecurities, our discomfort – to find the people underneath what we think we see.

She’s taught me that love doesn’t always use – and never needs – words. She’s taught me to slow down. She’s pushed me – nay, forced me – to find my voice. And to trust it. She’s given me so much more than I could ever ask of a child. I hope to God I’ve given her just a fraction of it in return.

My sweet girl,

You are laughter. You are determination. You are grace. You are joy. You are love.

I am proud beyond my wildest dreams to call you my daughter.

As you turn seven today, please know that your Mama loves you more than the moon, the stars and everything in between.


One very lucky mama

March, 2010

29 thoughts on “seven

  1. Indeed, love needs no words. But yours are so eloquent. Brooke cannot fail to hear the message of love which rings from them. Or the ones which also echo in those silent moments.

    WIshing Brooke a very happy birthday, and you a joyful celebration of being her mother. xo

  2. Happy Birthday to Brooke and a very happy anniversary to you of becoming Brooke’s mother. I remember visiting you and Brooke in the hospital shortly after her birth and thinking, wow – how blessed you are to have two beautiful little girls (my childhood dream). Seeing tiny Brooke then certaining inspired me to seek my own little bundle of joy but now she inspires me infinitely more with her extraordinary courage, tenacity and her boundless loveliness.

    From across the miles I join today you in celebrating this precious little girl – and may the next 7 years (for all of us with our children) feel a wee bit slower.

    xo April

  3. I agree with Pixiemama—-great description of what this post did to me—it slayed me! You have a gift my friend. Know that you owe me a few bottles of eye make-up remover and tissues though. πŸ™‚

    It seems like yesterday that we were sitting at the Westchester together with our babes in their strollers. Man how times have changed. You never know what life is going to throw you. You inspire me, Jess. Congratulations to the whole family!


  4. Every little girl deserves a mother like you. How special that she has these words, straight from her mothers heart… honest documentation of this wonderful (life) journey you share. All the best to the Birthday Girl… and her mama, too πŸ˜‰

  5. Happy Birthday to you both!! My sweet ‘baby’ is going to be 12, and I’m thinking of dropping the 1 soon, it’s just too much for me to believe. Where did it go? She was just 7 a few minutes ago. Savoring every moment indeed.

  6. You always make my heart hurt with love for you and yours. The sign of sucess as a parent is if your child uses what you have taught and is happier for it. You make me feel very sucessful but beyond that, you bring so much to your little girls and the rest of the world you touch everyday. We are all so fortunate to have you to teach and guide us. Just incase you aren’t sure already, you taught me much more than I taught you and you certainly helped me find my voice in so many things. On this special day as we celebrate our little 7 year old, I also celebrate you as my hero. One day your babies will be your heros too.

  7. Happy birthday Brooke, and Happy birthday mom. I think that with each child, a mother is reborn. So have a very happy day, both of you!

  8. Happy Brooke-in-the-world day to you! (and to us all)

    Re the extraordinary passage of time — my 8-year-old Rose was cooing over a little newborn guy at church, whose parents had brought him for the first time. Then later in the week, she told me, “you know, when that little baby is as old as I am now, I’ll be old enough to drive!”

    Indeed. Ohhhh, how fast it’s going.


  9. Happy Birthday to Brooke:) Time does seem to be picking up speed lately.

    My son just turned 7 on March 18 and I was simply flabbergasted that he could already be that old and that 4 and a half years had already passed since diagnosis.

    It certainly appears that the powers that be knew what they were doing when they matched up Brooke and her mama. It is apparent from your writing that you both bring such wonderful gifts and love to each other lives.

  10. thank you! thank you! thank you!

    thank you all so very much for your wonderful, generous comments and all the love and birthday wishes for my girl today. she’s having a great day!

  11. happy birthday to that sweet one. she deserves all of the happiness in the world…she’s certainly enriched the lives of those of us lucky enough to be reading this blog.

  12. She’s beautiful! I know kind of what you mean with the age. 26 psychologically just seems a lot different than 25. It’s passing the quarter century mark. Who knows what lies ahead? πŸ™‚

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