Twenty one years ago today, I'd just begun my second and final maternity leave. The idea was to give myself a month to finalize the preparations for the new arrival, as it happens-I didn't have the whole month.
Full of wonder I was on this day. Wonder if baby would be healthy. Wonder if my son, Michael, would make a good brother. Wonder if my mother would be able to handle the two-when I returned to work. Wonder what I would do-if not. Wonder why I gained so much weight this time. Wonder if I would be able to lose the extra. Wonder when we'd be able to move because it's going to be crowded. Wonder, boy or girl. Full of wonder, I was on that day and the 20 days that followed.
On the twenty first day, twenty-one years ago, a baby girl was placed into my experienced yet novice arms. She nestled snugly against my practiced, yet anxious chest. She had a cap of silky black hair and dark, piercing eyes. She also had a mouth on her, oh my goodness, she was loud.
This girl of mine was different. Beyond gender-she was different in every way. I could see it in her eyes, hear it in her wails. Whatever knowledge or understanding I'd gleaned from her brother was going to be useless to me here. She's a new ball game, a new breed, a new attitude.
Through teething, crawling, walking and learning to talk-everything was different. She followed him, yet blazed her own trail. She was the first to learn to ride a two-wheeled bike. She went off the diving board first. She climbed over and fell off a fence, first. She, not he, broke a bone-wore a cast. Though she had most of the same teachers-her experiences and by proxy, mine, were different.
Through girl scout meetings, sleepovers, gymnastics, sleepovers, t-ball, sleepovers, soccer, sleepovers, softball, sleepovers, more soccer, sleepovers, changing instruments three times before settling on the clarinet, sleepovers, birthday parties, sleepover, girlfriends, sleepovers, boyfriends and. ..everything was different.
Through the laughter, joy and love-everything was different.
Through the pain, tears, anger, pills, the call and panic-everything was different.
Through relief, recovery, healing and hope-everything was different.
In twenty-one days, Danielle, my daughter, my best bud (we'll have the tee shirts to prove it) will be twenty-one years old. We're going to be kickin up some dust in Vegas to celebrate, rejoicing for the days gone by and trumpeting the days to come.
Because everything was different. Because everything is different.
photo legend: top Danielle & Michael (3 yrs ago), middle- my mom and Danielle (2006) bottom Danielle and her *pets*