When I started this blog you were 5 months old. You were bald, and your ears kind of curled over at the top. We called them your “elf ears.” This will probably be less amusing when you’re 15.
When you smiled your face exploded in tiny indentations: A cleft chin, and a dimple on each side.
That still happens. It happened just this morning when you asked me if I’d give you “side spikeys” today. Your hair, that is.
Tomorrow you turn 5.
I thought your birth, my first one at home, was going to roll out and along like soft waves crashing on a foggy ocean shore, because that’s what happened in your brother’s birth a few years before. I envisioned myself dancing you out all calm and quiet and serene, maybe pulling you to the surface of the water with eyes wide open.
Instead I drank castor oil, setting off a 9-hour torture session of me squealing like a hyena and cursing the day I realized children were a possibility.
You were in a funky position. I had to push for approximately 9 years and 27 days.
There was no doubt in my mind I could not do it. When the midwife said “Well you’re the only one that can” and I met my mom’s eyes as her mouth said “Janelle get angry” I knew they were right and I let go and readied myself for the end and pulled all the energy from you, me, the ocean and all the motherfucking hyenas to get your 10-pound body out of me, with your chin not tucked appropriately and head cocked to one side.
Not gonna lie, your head was super jacked up on one side. I didn’t notice.
Your daddy lifted you from the water and the midwife said “cord.” Your older brother and sister gathered close. She flipped you over twice and your body flooded pink right there from the center and I think I cried and broke in elation because neither of us were dead and you were so big and lovely and mine and soft.
Ours, actually: me and daddy and Rocket and Ava.
You hardly cried. I swear it’s true. Through your whole damn infancy. You played and played and laughed and smiled and nursed a lot, but preferred sleeping alone. It was like a dream. You were like a dream.
Your independence was fierce and full right from the beginning, as if you started out knowing, just knowing what you needed to know, already. Like you showed up and said “I’m here, folks.” And started living complete, or mostly so, or more than the rest of us.
On your first day of preschool you stomped up the stairs, threw the door open and said “GEORGIA IS HERE.” And walked in.
That’s kind of how you’ve treated life.
We went camping when you were 10 months old and you already talked quite a bit, which was super weird after your brother, who barely spoke until he was three. You found a rock you loved and named it “owl.”
YOU NAMED THE ROCK “OWL.”
I think we still have it.
At 18 months you explained you were a “big boy” and for two years were adamant that you were a boy and cried if people called you a girl, so you were our boy and it was fine and damn you were adorable.
You had a “big boy dinosaur monster truck party” when you turned three.
A few months after your 4th birthday you decided you were a girl and then both, but really, you’ve just been you and that’s enough for me. All of us, your family, and the world.
At least I hope it is.
A few months ago you said when you grew up you were going to build a room where nobody asks if you’re a boy or a girl.
I’ll join you there, my love.
I hope they’re nice to you in kindergarten. I hope you can just be Georgia there too. I hope your faux hawk (you begged for it for a solid year) and digger shirt paired with a bright floral skirt and red Pumas doesn’t make the other kids wonder.
Some of them are very disturbed by you. It makes me sad to think of the rigidity that must exist in their homes. We have had children yell in our faces “GIRLS DON’T HAVE SHORT HAIR!”
Oh, my heart.
I hope nobody tells me I shouldn’t let my kid look like that if I want people to know how to treat her because I’ll tell that person to kiss my ass seventeen thousand ways before I’ll tell my kid “Sorry. There’s no place for you…and to make other people comfortable, to conform to arbitrary, archaic societal guidelines regarding gender, I’m gonna need you to pretend to be something someone somebody you are not.”
Nope. Kick rocks asshole. You change.
Here. HERE IS A PRIMER ON HOW TO ACT IF YOU ARE UNSURE OF SOMEBODY’S GENDER: Nice.
Act nice. Proceed with life.
You turn 5 tomorrow. This year it’s a dinosaur astronaut party.
We’ve had some rough patches, you and I. Some days I thought you were too much. The wrestling. Yelling. Jumping. Running. Dancing.
No. Not the dancing.
The dancing has never been too much.
At the public pool, if your jam came on, you danced. Within a few moments you had a little audience. “Does she go to dance class?” Some of the kids asked.
“No,” I answered, “That’s just how she moves.”
That’s just how she lives.
Tomorrow you turn 5. It feels huge. It feels heavy and deep and a little
It feels perfect. It feels lucky. It feels the only way I’d ever have it.
I watch you all move along, a day a week a month a year beyond. I wonder if I held on, played enough. I regret the day care and babysitter. I regret every day spent away. I regret the time you were at the doctor’s without me. Every time I’ve yelled.
I remember I can’t do motherhood if I’m never away. I remember I needed to earn money. I remember I did what I could, then, and now. I take a breath and watch your face explode in tiny indentations.
I remember it all lead us here.
Here. Now. To tomorrow.
Motherhood is a series of letting go. It does not grow easier.
On the first day of school I’ll do your spikes just right, pack your dinosaur lunch box and watch you walk away, holding the hand of the boy who came like the waves.
And watch as you go out with them too.