18 years. I have known this girl, my first born baby, for 18 years.
It doesn’t even seem real to me. 18 years seems like such a long time. So long that I can barely remember all of the things that you think you will never let yourself forget about when you’re in the moment. I’ve lost all memory of some pretty major milestones like Maya losing her first tooth, or watching her drive away on a school bus for the first time. But, I’ve held on tight to some others that, literally, fill my body with warm sunshine whenever I think of them.
Like, the day I was reading a magazine article about Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurmon and how they had just had a baby they named Maya…and, I loved it so much I was able to sell Alex on it. Even though I wanted to spell it ‘Maja’.
I remember my due date being May 5th, and the doctors and nurses all telling me that it was highly unlikely it would happen that day because almost no one is actually born on their due date. Until Maya decided to wait until just after midnight on May 5th, thus solidifying one of the funnest birthdays of all time: Cinco de MayA 😉
Or, the walkie talkies we brought to the hospital the night she was born so that her Uncle Chad could play my favorite song of his, Flying Horses, from the waiting room for us to celebrate her birth at Brockton Hospital.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget just how bad we were with sleep training and how I would end up laying Maya for hours face down on my lap while I sat at the computer doing work because we couldn’t figure out how to get her to sleep on her own.
I remember having an actual point-and-shoot camera that I would take pictures with of her during the day, upload them into my computer, then email copies to Alex at work so he could see what she all of the cute things she was doing during the day.
Like, the time when Alex’s mom, Laura, was babysitting for the first time and I walked in on her giving Maya a bath in the kitchen sink…and, I almost died because I thought it was unsanitary. She had 6 kids, and this was my 1st, and I’m calling her on how to bathe a baby. I can’t even imagine how annoying I was back then. For the record, none of the later children bathed in anything but the kitchen sink until they, literally, couldn’t fit in it anymore.
Then, there were what I call the birthday party years. The years when she was still young enough to throw super cute themed birthday parties, but not old enough that Jonah was around to limit the amount of time I could spend on being creative with them. There was her Dora The Explorer birthday party when I had pre-assembled hundreds of pieces of puppet parts and all of the kids made their own. There was the Dr. Seuss party that I built and designed a life-sized wooden cut out so kids could take pictures of their faces on the bodies of Thing 1 and Thing 2. And, there was the personalized pillow making party when girls were able to design their own pillow cases and I sewed them together so they could use them for the sleepover party and take them home as party favors to keep.
I almost wish I could forget Maya’s tumultuous years when we fought like cats and dogs over her obsession with junk food, her being dishonest with her times and weights at CrossFit, and her completely hideous “sense of style” around her middle school years. But, luckily, all of those things fixed themselves over time and she’s settled into a place that isn’t exactly like mine, but is exactly where I would want her to be at this point in her life.
This list could, in all honesty, go on forever now. And, I almost want to just keep writing because the more that I write, the more I remember. It’s funny how your brain works like a muscle in that way. But, I would miss out on creating new memories if I just sat around doing that all day.
What I will say, however, is that this child. This first born baby of mine. She may be perfectly imperfect. But, she is the perfect oldest child for both of our families.
Maya is the one who ran us through a few trenches, but has come out giving us hope.
Hope that anything we do with any of our other children, and anything we don’t do, will all work itself out as time passes. Just as Maya did, they will all throw us different curve balls and kick us in the gut with all sorts of things that will test our patience and faith.
But, because of her and the person, the young woman that she’s spent 18 years growing up to be, we can all take that deep breath every now and then and know that we are just watching each of the other kids of ours write their own story on how they, too, will be perfectly imperfect in their own way.