Five (For Lu)

I walked down the steep and dusty hill in beat-up jeans that I had bought in a secondhand store in Santiago. They fit poorly and were seriously worn out, like most of the clothing we wore then. I wasn’t pregnant yet but while I navigated the path I daydreamed of you. What would you look like? Would you have my eyes? Would I be a good mother? That July, I knew you were a girl – before the doctor said it, before I heard your heart beat for the first time.

The nurses called you “Rubia,” and “Muñeca” the day you were born. It wasn’t often they saw such blonde babies in the Hospital de Valparaiso. You aspirated breast milk that first day. I had set you down without burping you and a nurse scolded me, in angry, chiding Spanish she warned that that was how babies choke and “What did I think I was doing”? It was awful. The subsequent days, weeks, and months were hard with you in that small house, though I don’t remember as many of the details anymore. (Time has a funny way of dulling the hard edges.) You were fussy and would only fall asleep when placed ‘just so’ on my chest. I remember you looking up at me with your wide, curious blue eyes – I was so in love with you. (Still am.)

I wonder who you would be if we had stayed, if English were your second language, if you grew up on a homestead on the central Chilean coastline, instead.

I spent that first year watching you grow away from me and to be honest, I was as ready as you were for your quick independence. Sometimes I feel guilty that I didn’t appreciate the milestones more.  But a lot of it just felt like drudgery – lonely and exhausting.  

Looking back at the last five years I have to disagree with people that say the time all flies by – sometimes the days are long but the years are too.

And over the years, my sweet Lu, you have made me a patient, grateful woman (most of the time).

You are still such a mama’s girl, but now we spend our days together singing loudly to Kasey Musgraves in the car with the sun roof open. We have epic dance parties in your room with your brother while Flynn and I cross our fingers that it’ll stay like this forever. (It won’t.) You have a hearty appetite for hamburgers, hugs for mama, and make-believe. You fiercely love people and all 100 of the stuffed animals that populate your purple room. You are the goofiest person I know. You are a rainbow-unicorn in a pink robe telling poop jokes. You are my sweet saving grace with curly pigtails and pink lipstick smeared across your perfect, dimpled face. I thank my lucky stars for you, especially on your birthday.

Happy Birthday, Lu.

Love, mama.

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