In a few days, my oldest daughter will be ten years old. She insists that her birthday should be a national holiday since it's so close to Washington's, that we've really been waiting all this time to celebrate the wonder that is her.
I look at her sometimes and I ask myself where all the time went.
Though the days drag on for an eternity, one day you blink and ten years are gone.
Ten years ago, I was prepping my son for a wedding. If you've never seen an almost two year old in a tux, you should. Honest to god, it's the cutest thing in the known universe.
I'd promised my friend that I would do whatever it took to stay pregnant past the day of the wedding, hanging upside down from my toenails if I had to.
You know I went into labor at the reception, right?
She came screaming into this world in a crowded, cramped room with too many doctors, nurses, friends, family members and video cameras. When I say she came screaming in, I mean it quite literally. She wasn't even completely out when it started.
She cried for months on end it seemed. Turned this mom into a believer, she did. I thought colic was something that people decided existed because they couldn't handle the fact that all newborns cry. Then I had her. I converted.
She was always different, the world we live in not the same one she does. She has sensory processing problems, some of which we've identified as physical problems. Others we haven't. It's taken us years to figure out the things that alter how she experiences the universe, but I'm not sure I will ever understand her fully. She has chronic hearing problems because of pressure problems, she has severe asthma, her eyes can't focus together for long periods of time.
And yet, she's the high achieving student and the competitive soccer player.
The doctors don't understand how she manages it.
She has to work a little bit harder for everything she does, but she does it. And she loves it.
She's an animal whisperer, and those who know her well have said for years that she'd be a veterinarian someday. It's always seemed like they understand her better than us humans do.
She's walked the adhd tightrope for most of her childhood, though she's never been fully diagnosed. She's always just under the criteria, and I'm actually okay with that. I learned a long time ago that she will do whatever she has to do to keep it under wraps when she is at school, but once that bell rings all bets are off. For a few years, she raged at me every single day after school. She lashed out, she hit, she kicked, she screamed.
It's hard to keep your chin up as the mother of a child like this sometimes. I knew that she was okay at school, so I learned to deal with her otherwise. She's so okay that most of her teachers have no idea what she is like outside of school.
I've learned over the years to get down to her level, however I have to do that. To remind her to breathe. To hold her when she cries. To calm her when she rages. To be patient.
She's grown up a lot lately, her struggles seem less the older she gets.
Her asthma doctor saw it this week when she had a check-up. For the first time since she's been a patient, my daughter looked right at her doctor, who she adores. She made eye contact. She smiled. She answered questions without nudging from her mom. She hasn't just grown in height, she doesn't just look older these days, she's really growing up. Maturing.
She's developing a quirky sense of humor more and more every day. She can sit and giggle with her brother for hours at goofy cartoons. She laughs at herself, she refuses to take herself too seriously.
We joke with her that she'll never leave home, that she'll live in our basement forever because she is so attached to us. She's literally almost always touching us. She'd climb in my kangaroo pouch if I had one, I'm fully convinced of it. And she'd completely agree.
Though there are still days when her eyes glass over and I want to strap blinders to her face just to get her to look at me, they are fewer and further between. She's figuring out how to navigate this world, even if it's always been a little different for her, and may always be.
She's a mystery to me, and there are so many times I want to crawl into her ear and just take a look around inside her head. I want to know what she sees, what she hears, what her world is like. I want to understand her.
She's like a beautiful vast treasure, unearthed one tiny piece at a time, worth the work and worth the wait.
My diamond in the rough.
My beautiful girl.
Happy birthday, baby.
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