You have always given me a run for my money. From the time you could walk, or even crawl, I had to watch you like a hawk. You were the child who, if I put down in one place and turned my back for even one split second, would be gone or at least on your way when I turned back. You are an explorer, always testing life to see how far you can push, and how far you can go.
You’ve always loved the beach and the water, long before you were even close to being a good swimmer. You’d stand at the water’s edge, with the waves crashing down within inches of you, and pull at my hand to run in. It was exhausting to continually be on my guard, and when I had my fill of the water and just wanted to sit in the sand and relax, you were never ready to go. One day, Aunt Jen, who lifeguarded that same beach, said to me something like, “Just let a wave roll her. When she gets a mouthful of water and sand, she’ll learn.” I looked up at her and said, “yeah, she’s already been rolled. Many times.” I would just scoop you up out of the water, like something the tide brought in, and you’d run right back again. You just had no fear. And while part of me was terrified that you’d get hurt, there was a bigger part of me that just marveled at your joie du vivre, your zest for life.
You were so outgoing and so engaging. You gave hugs to strangers. You needed to meet everybody, and touch everything. I absolutely loved that quality in you and swore I’d do everything I could to protect it. I also knew the school years would be difficult because that kind of behavior is the exact opposite of what teachers want in their classroom. And, sure enough, it took you only three days to “break” the kindergarten teacher, who called me up crying because you’d been rocking in your chair after she told you not too—multiple times—and ended up biting through your lip. You were just not one of those kids who could sit still. To this day I dread when the phone rings and your school’s phone number shows up on the Caller ID.
You’ve always known how to push my buttons. I distinctly remember one time when I took you and James shoe shopping for shoes for me and the two of you were bored and starting to get rambunctious. I gave you “the mom look” and then promised you I’d be done in five minutes, and reminded you both to behave. I don’t know what came over you or how you even thought it up, but you threw yourself down in the middle of the store’s floor and started screaming, “Mom, don’t hit me. Don’t hit me!” Suffice it to say, we left right there and then and, man, did I want to throttle you.
But even though we go head to head and toe to toe sometimes, you’re one of my very favorite people in the entire world, and I don’t want you to ever forget it. I am not just your mom: I’m your fiercest advocate and your biggest fan. I’m the one who will be here pushing you to reach higher, and I’ll be the one holding the net to catch you if you fall.
I’ve spent years trying to protect that zest for life you had when you were younger, when you weren’t so shy and didn’t walk with your head down, but met life head on, with excitement and curiosity. I am so proud of you all of the time—your writing, your art work, your humor, your compassion, and especially your voice, which is just beautiful.
To quote one of your current favorite songs:
You’ve got a big heart
The way you see the world
It got you this far
You might have some bruises
And a few scars
But you know you’re gonna be okay
Don’t ever stop looking at the world and testing its boundaries. Don’t let life dim your light. When waves knock you down, get up, laughing, and run right back out there. You’re stronger than you know, and I’m proud of you every single day.
I love you.
2017 Rachel L. MacAulay All Rights Reserved