Ten years ago today, I was both blessed and surprised by the arrival of my first child.
I say surprised because she was only due 2 months later.
Luckily for her, and for us, she recovered from that early birth, and quickly made up for her initial vulnerability.
Today I want to tell her how proud I am of her.
In those 10 years since you were born you have taught me more about life and about myself than I had learned in the previous twenty-something years.
From the beginning I realized one knows nothing about worry (even the worrywarts of this world) until one discovers parental worry. Parental worry fell on my lap quite abruptly right from day one, since you spent your first 5 weeks in the NICU.
But you were a trooper right away; you grew, you became strong, and you managed to not only become a perfectly healthy little girl, but also to reach most developmental milestones in advance, reassuring me that you would be okay. More than okay!
From the beginning I learned about parental exhaustion, in a quite intense way since you were (and this is an euphemism) a "high-needs baby".
But you slowly learned to soothe yourself, and have developed over the years a very healthy sense of keeping your cool. When daddy took you to swimming lessons and forgot to bring the bags that contained towels, goggles, shampoo and comb, you were the one who calmed everyone by saying "It's okay, it's okay. That's how adventures begin... In a few years we will laugh about this". Speaking of laughter, we now laugh together about the baby you were, don't we? And, I will tell you a secret... according to your grandmother, I was pretty fussy myself... maybe it's in the genes.
From the beginning I faced parental guilt, because I could never do enough to keep you happy for more than a couple minutes.
But you showed me that it was okay, and that you loved your mommy no matter what.
I want you to know that you loving me unconditionally despite the fact that I'm an imperfect mom is the best present I've ever received. I also want you to know that I love you unconditionally and more than you will ever know (until you have your own kids). When I think you're old enough (probably soon), I will let you watch the movie that illustrates motherly love so well (and is a nice depiction of where you are from), Nouvelle-France (Battle of the Brave). Interestingly, that movie came out the year you were born! Finally, I want you to know that you will never need to be (or to attempt to be) perfect either.
I will go further and say that from all of your 10 years, you have already made me more proud than I could have hoped for. I admire you.
I admire your courage:
When I was your age I was not only extremely shy, but also a "scaredy squirrel", afraid of her own shadow. Yet here you are, readily going to play auditions and jumping from the highest diving board (or doing flips from the small one).
I admire your intelligence:
Nobody will believe me, but you knew your alphabet at 1, all dinosaur names and their habitat and preferred foods at 2, then you started to read at 4, and last but not least, you beat me at chess at 6. You're a smart cookie, but you never brag about it.
I admire your human qualities:
You seem to instinctively know how to treat people with kindness, and you are never afraid to share or help others. The other day, when we were done eating supper, your daddy and I stayed at the table to chat. Without any prompting, you cleared the whole table. I realize that's becoming a common example. I have to say I was particularly impressed when, for your birthday, you asked your friends to not give you any presents, but instead to make a donation to a charity you had chosen.
I admire your wisdom:
You left me speechless the other day, when you said:
"Teenagers are often daredevils. I think those near-death experiences make them feel more alive."
When I asked where you had heard or read about it, you said "nowhere, I just thought about that".
If you come up with those things at 10, I can only imagine the things you'll have to say when you're my age...
... but please don't feel rushed to get there.
So, with all my love and admiration...
So, with all my love and admiration...