You launch yourself into my arms for our nightly bedtime hug, and I breathe the smell of your soft blonde hair against my face. It’s your last night as a 4-year-old. Tomorrow, we turn 5.
Yes, we. I’ll be 5 years old tomorrow, too.
Because on the day you were born, so was I.
I lived a full and blessed life before you. With those blessings, though, came an unexpected and maybe unfounded weight of expectation. Shouldn’t I use my many privileges to change the world? For most of my young life I felt tossed around in a strange limbo — trying hard to perform how I should and feeling entirely unsure of who I was supposed to be.
When my peers were making moves to actually change our world, when the love of my life told me he was joining the military because he felt passionate about it and needed to, when friends and acquaintances remarked that they had “dream jobs,” and when my family rallied again and again to support and maintain our family business, I floated around on the outskirts, totally unsure of where I belonged. I didn’t feel that same passion. Sure, I was confident in a few things — I was madly in love with and absolutely meant to be with my high school sweetheart. I was creative, organized, and crafty. I received accolades in any job I tried, but I just didn’t love my work the way I thought I should. Who was I supposed to be? How can you change the world without knowing what you’re passionate about?
Everything changed on the night you were born. I was born that night, too.
In motherhood I have found my niche. I have found my passion. I have found my dream job, and I have found the one thing I am meant for. The fulfillment I get from being a mother has been absolutely transformative. It has changed my entire worldview, and for the first time ever, I understand my purpose. I am meant to be a mother.
Was there even a me before there was a you?
At only 5 years old, you are empathetic. You feel things deeply. You are courageous and strong and reliable and trustworthy. You try hard, and you are so easy to love. And, for the first time in my life, I realize that I am all of those things, too.
In you, I see a reflection of all of my strengths. I am beginning to understand that all of the characteristics I have tried to instill in you in the last five years, I have also been cementing in myself. Those are the characteristics that change the world.
At 5 years old, you are just getting the hang of personhood. At 5 years “old,” so am I.
And it is through you that I will change the world.