I’ve always liked the number 12. I remember arriving at 12 on the multiplication table and feeling like a superhero. I was enchanted with the idea of a baker’s dozen and 12 + 1. It’s a nice round number, relates to the calendar, lunchtime and the magic of staying up until midnight.
Last night into this morning 12 was about Briar. Today is her 12th birthday. I have not consistently written birthday posts or made huge deals out of age milestones, but today is sweet. I am reminded of how keenly September’s spirit imprinted on me as I waited for her arrival and then welcomed her. The taste of the air, the quality of the light, and the smattering of early-turning leaves always return me to the origin of my motherhood.
This birthday feels like a deepening. She is who she is, already well into her life’s trajectory. She will continue to explore things, from people and places to self expression and how she defines herself. I don’t mean to hurry or downplay any of it. I sense these years we’ve lived with her are a wildflower pressed between pages, the solid chapter of her childhood to be revisited and remembered in different ways by all of us. It’s been rich with laughter and discovery, questing and retreating. I am proud of all of it, even my very real foibles as a mom.
I cherish what we’ve done, how we’ve loved, and who we have become for and because of each other. I watched her at the mirror yesterday, her feet tilted beneath spindly legs with surprisingly muscular calves, her sweater had heart on the front, the patterns of the sleeves an unpredictable choose to pair with wildly flowered pants. She smirked and moved her hair with small nod and tilts of her head. I can still see her three year old shadow doing the same thing with her toddler ringlets.
She keeps secrets and spends hours quiet, happily. She also offers unflinching access to her fears and hopes. I reach for words that can adequately illustrate how I feel and then sputter, “I love you. Do I say that too much? I can’t help it.” She laughs, leans into me and says, “It’s perfect. You’re perfect. I love you.” We laugh and joke that no one is perfect.
Today is her birthday, she is 12. It’s a day like any other day, it’s just that no day has ever been the same since she was born.
I love her so much. If you are reading this Briar, I hope you are making a crooked smile. Thank you for always making the rest of us feel so loved.