Ode to E
“Children are life’s reward.”–Kenyan proverb
Tomorrow marks my daughter, E’s, eighth birthday. I never realized how emotional children’s birthdays are for their parents until she was born. Every day I am grateful for her, but especially on this day. While motherhood does not solely define me, it has changed everything about my life and how I view the world. I am a better person because of her.
Eight years ago the most glorious little firecracker entered the world. From the start, she burst with energy and a remarkable zest for life. “Congratulations! A beautiful little girl!” Dr. P pronounced. A great surprise–almost everyone predicted a boy, and though we all say we just want a healthy baby, truth is, I secretly longed for a healthy girl.
Little Miss E was eager to learn what life was like out here, like she’d been tapping her toes waiting at the starting line for the race to begin already. The medical students who had suddenly piled into the delivery room gasped at her ready responses to the Apgar test.
All children are special in their own ways. Early on, E displayed intelligence, curiosity, and verbal capacity beyond her years. She spoke her first word at seven months; by a year, she was stringing together short phrases. Paragraphs would soon follow. When she was almost two, returning from day care one afternoon, she plopped herself in the driveway and pointed at the darkening sky. “Moon, please!” She wanted me to bring the moon to her so she could get a better look, make it hers. Walking didn’t come until nearly eighteen months, our first clue of her penchant for perfectionism. At three, she could recite “Horton Hears a Who” and “Thidwick, The Big Hearted Moose” verbatim, but one day she stopped doing it. “I’m mad,” she said. “Mad at who?” “Mad at the book!” She was angry she couldn’t actually read it yet.
Today, I honor her and the incredible person she is and will continue to become. My fiance, B, once remarked that next to the word, “spunky,” in the dictionary, there should be a picture of E. Of all the things I admire about her, I am most grateful for this attribute. Just as much as all of the love and support she received from friends and family, I am convinced that her indomitable spirit–her courage, tenacity, feistiness, and pluck, like a protective hard shell protecting her tender heart–is what got her through the troughs of her illness without succumbing to despair.
I cannot bring her the moon. But I can offer lots of love. And help guide her to become the best E that she can be, channeling her mercurial nature and helping her lean into her strengths. I expect great things from her, but not in the traditional sense. With her learning capabilities, inner drive and dogged work ethic, I know she will be an achiever in whatever she chooses to pursue professionally. But more importantly, to me at least, I am certain that she will do so with kindness and empathy. She will infect others with her zest for living, and in so doing, will bring more hope into world. God bless the child.