Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Our daughter turns 7 tomorrow.  This is a picture she drew a few months ago.  She likes cats.  A lot.  But I'm allergic to them.  To the point that my eyes have swelled shut on a couple occasions.  This is a sore reality for our daughter.  At one time, she weighed the pros and cons of trading me in for a kitten.  I won by a whisker.  

Every day, at the end of school, our daughter's class does something called "Roses and Thorns."  Basically, it's an opportunity to tell what they enjoyed most about their day.  As well as what they didn't like.  And every afternoon, since the first day of first grade, our daughter has rolled open her palms, as if she were presenting a gift, and told her classmates, "My day unfolded like a jewel." 

I know.  Cute, huh?  At least the first five times or so.  But it's her thing now.  She's proud of it.  And I hope that every day, there's some truth behind the line.  Her smile usually tells me that's the case, as I watch her hurrying down the hall to me.  And my heart clenches up a little every time at this ritual that's repeated millions of times across the world, with other schoolkids and parents.  Every time.  We're all bound by this intense vulnerability of parenting.  We all need to cup it in our palms.   

I wasn't prepared for the pain of childbirth, and I wasn't prepared for the greater pain of mothering.  I was naive about what it demanded.  But that's okay.  I used to give myself a lot of grief for my shortcomings.  Lately, instead, I've been trying to squeeze down on my moments with them.  To recognize that 7 will, in the blink of her long-lashed eye, double into 14.  That those smiles at seeing her mom at the end of the school day will become a little less brilliant.  That someday, it won't be there at all.  

It's a gift to see your child grow, to develop character and personality.  I loved her at 1, but it was a less personal kind of love, if that makes any sense.  I loved her because she needed me to.  Now I know who she is.  For instance, I know that she loves space, but doesn't want to be an astronaut because she might have to wear a diaper at lift-off.  I know that she hums while eating dinner.  I know that she needs me to squeeze out her bad dreams, before she can fall asleep at night.  I love her more for all of her -isms.   

And like any parent, I love the chance to get all sentimental about my kid.  So thanks for humoring me.  :)  And no, I'm not going to pull out my wallet (er, iPod actually) and make you look at pictures!

Happy Birthday, sweetie.  May your day unfold into the jewel you already are. 

(She was almost a St. Paddy's baby.  So this song seems
apt tonight.  It's from the wonderful film, "Once.")


Tamarind~ said...

O Mother, you are blessed; and so is you daugther! Give my Birthday wishes to the little angel.. and yea, tell her that, i too love cats :)

Stephen Parrish said...

I love the abstract elements in the drawing: the tail, the shoes, the foreshortened arm.

Appreciating your kid while she's still a kid: ur doin it rite.

Aniket said...

A very happy birthday to her! I hope she finds her way to this post when she turns 14. Something tells me she'll say the line to you again.

I loved the quote when I heard it in an episode of criminal minds:

"You don't really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around -- and why his parents will always wave back. - Journalist William D. Tammeus"

Mom used to play with my hair while putting me to sleep. She still does that at times. And I still love it.

She'll turn out just great... we have faith in you. :)

the walking man said...

Won by a whisker. The child knows that a mom cooks and squeezes out bad dreams better than a cat.

Happy Birthday kid...and parents too.

Charles Gramlich said...

Great piece. I loved the "won by a whisker" line as well. And I once wrote a story called "roses and thorns." It wasn't quite so nice.

Sarah Hina said...

Tamarind~, I will tell her! Luckily, she has many stuffed animal kitties to keep her pacified. :) Thanks for the b-day wishes!

Steve, brilliant, isn't she? I'm glad you see it, too.

Aniket, that's a wonderful quote, and so true! We have to wave, and we want to, too.

Your mom sounds like another jewel. And yes, I think my little one will continue to unfold and shine. :) Thank you!

Mark, I appreciate that. I'm almost tempted to give in on the cat front, anyway. Maybe someday...

Charles, I imagine not! Thanks for the kind words and smile. :)

Hoodie said...

My little girl turned 7 a week ago, and while our girls clearly have differing personalities, you mirrored many of my same feelings. I completely concur with how the love changes as they age and also feel that desperate need to grasp the now when she still considers me her best friend.

Hoodie (aka Joni)

Susan Deborah said...

Dear Sarah:

What a lovely tribute to your daughter and motherhood as well.

In spite of not yet being a mother, I could feel the different phases of emotions in your writing. Only a mother can do that.

Congrats to you for bringing her into this world and a lovely birthday to her.

Joy always,

Karen said...

How could this child of yours not be a jewel? How could she not speak in poetry? Yet, even if she were not and could not, she would be your greatest treasure. Enjoy this gift! Happy Birthday to her and to you, Mom.

Sarah Hina said...

Hoodie, I'm glad you could relate (and it's very good to see you again). I kind of love that aspect of parenting. That there are billions of us around the globe with the same feelings, yet each of us has our own unique child. There's something comforting in that to me.

Thank you.

Susan, I really appreciate your kindness here. She enjoyed a wonderful day, and I did, too. :) Thanks so much.

Karen, ah, leave it to you to make my eyes well. Thank you--she and her brother are indeed my greatest treasures. I'm a lucky Mom.

Jen said...

Sarah, I completely teared up when I read this. First of all, the image I have of this little girl saying her day unfolded like a jewel is vivid--I can just picture it, and of course it makes me want to squeeze her, too! And of course my next thought was that of course your daughter would speak like a writer. ;)

I most related to your point about the pain of mothering. I think sometimes it is almost unbearably so. A good friend once said it is like cutting your heart out and having it walk around outside of you--where you can't always protect it. Your post is a good reminder to stop and appreciate, and for someone like me, to stop being so fearful. :)

I hope you had the sweetest of birthday celebrations.

On a separate note--our comcast email blew up this weekend, with all of our email accounts. I'll email you tomorrow with a new one!

Grimmgirl said...

Lovely musings on your growing little one -- Jack will be 7 in April -- so strange to think they were 4 when we were in Athens. I spend so much time frustrated with and tired because of them (Mr. Pete just turned 3); thanks for the reminder to cherish the little stuff! Hayley

Rick said...

You are very, very lucky to have each other! Tell her my white cat says "Happy Birthday," too.

Sarah Hina said...

Jennifer, I'm so late to replying to comments! It's been that kind of week. :)

But I truly appreciate everything you said here. Your friend's words are very apt. Right now, our kids are still pretty young, so I'm able to control a lot. I can't imagine how hard it's going to be to loosen up on those reins. And driving?? Oh, lord...

Our daughter enjoyed a beautiful day. It's spring break for them now, and I have to say--I'm ready for her to be having more of those jeweled school days! ;)

Thank you, my friend.

Grimmgirl, trust me, I know what you mean. Spring break has been a bit of a coming down to earth moment for me. We can only cherish so much...

It would be great to see Jack and Petey again. The kids would love it. :)

Rick, already done! Thanks so much for stopping by. :) We are very lucky.

Colleen said...

I love this movie. Thank you for letting me hear the song again.

And a very happy belated birthday to your daughter.