there, there mama

i think i mentioned a few posts ago that we recently celebrated our little apple cheeks' first birthday.

and what a celebration it was!

so much food, so many friends and family, so many children running and playing and dancing and banging on instruments. it was fabulous.

i was bursting with love (and exhaustion) for our once-a-baby-now-a-young-girl.

truth be told, i think the day was better for us than for her, though. she was fairly overwhelmed by all the chaos and noise. she never had a melt down (she has had like only 3 of those in her entire year of life) but she kind of shut down.

when encircled by several dozen of her parents' friends and her extended family, listening to everyone singing HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU. HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR EMMA. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, and face to face with a huge, round cake with as many candles as it took to spell the letter E, emma was wide-eyed and silent. she kicked the cake instead of smashing it. and, when i gave her a tiny bit of icing to taste she wiped it off her mouth.

(we are learning she prefers sour tastes over sweet, thank you very much)

it struck me that this little girl who literally tumbles over in exuberation and joy grows so silent when confronted by it on a large scale in return. 

and therein lies the rub for me. she gives us SO MUCH LOVE. i don't know how to give it back properly.

i do it by trying to provide her opportunities. by creating a loving, safe home. by celebrating the joys and supporting her through her struggles. but to really give back all the love she gives us. all that joy?

i am not sure i can. i am concerned that i don't know how to ever repay the debt that emma has created in my heart. i feel a constant need to give back to her what i gain.

i wonder sometimes if i would feel differently if she were a "typical" child. would i feel as much love? or a different kind of love?

the kind i have for her is such a grateful love. i am grateful for her accomplishments, large and small.

for example, if you were to stop by our home on any given morning you would find that we cheer- quite literally- when she manages to paw a fist of cereal into her mouth, after repeated attempts to transfer it back and forth between her hands, dropping it, occassionally giving up on it, laying her head down on the table, with her mouth open like a bird trying to scoop up the food to no avail. but then, she'll try again and somehow manage to shove the piece or two of cereal in her mouth.

and i squeal with delight. (not her, mind you, me)

i am SOOOOO proud of her endurance, perseverance, repeated attempts against her physiology to do what often comes so much easier for some of her peers.

and she just looks at me in return with this really mom? look and then slowly gives me a little grin like she gets what an accomplishment it was and places her hand on my cheek as if to say

there, there. everything is going to be alright, mama.

and, i am starting to trust that it is.

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