The song I sang to my daughter when she was a baby.
The Sweetest Gift by Sade
When I was a child I didn’t like children and swore I would never have any of my own. I remember my mother telling me, “one day you will have children and you will feel differently.” I felt sure she was wrong. I would watch other people’s children act appalling, cruel and down right ignorant and it would affirm my opinion and distaste. As I grew and my older brothers began their prospective families, I knew parenting wasn’t for me. I loved my nieces and nephews, of course I did, but I always felt awkward around them. I held them like footballs and handed them off to the nearest other living human the moment they made any weird noises or leaked anything from anyplace on their bodies. I saw how my sisters- in- law always looked completely exhausted and smelled of vomit and I was sure I had made the proper choice for me. Once my mother agreed that I was “not parenting material” I felt relieved. Now that I knew she wasn’t expecting any grandchildren from me and I was no less a woman in her eyes, I was sure I would lead a life of complete freedom from crying, whining, puke and dirty diapers. If any of those things were in my future, they were coming from me and not some alien I played host to.
The closest I came to maternal love was the bond I shared with my little brother. With a huge chasm between our ages, I put it off to his need for a sister, since we were the only two left in the nest and I would be flying away soon enough. I felt a special love for him, though I would never admit it, and he didn’t seem to excrete gross things too much. Nothing that a rag or his own shirt didn’t cover. I think it helped that he was a neat kid and I enjoyed his humor and company. He was as close as I would allow any child to get to my heart.
And then it happened. I caught a horrible virus. The symptoms were simply turning into a blithering idiot and becoming a stranger in my own skin. I had fallen head over heels in love. I remember staring at a full lunar eclipse one night, making silly wishes under its magical glow. Foremost of those being that my new love and I would start a life much like those in fairy tales and live magically, happily ever after. I had a fleeting vision of holding the hand of a little girl as we walked by the ocean. It came and went and I didn’t think much over it at the time. I was lost in a dream and it was beautiful.
Shortly there after, a stupid little stick decided my fate. A pink X announced I had a bun in the oven I thought had been disabled. I was terrified! My brain could not comprehend what was happening to my body. I stayed in shock and denial for over 10 months. Yes, I said over 10 months because the little creature that had taken up residency in my belly was apparently very happy there and had no intention of vacating. Every part of my body swelled to an enormous size, which left me wearing MuuMuus and flip-flops because I couldn’t fit my body or my swollen feet into anything that resembled clothes or shoes. Luckily, we lived in Hawaii so I fit in for the most part.
Two weeks past my due date, I started taking long walks and swimming trying to encourage the little freak to come out. At my last doctor’s visit I begged him to extricate the demon, but he said to give it a little more time. More time! Are you kidding me! I haven’t seen my feet in months. I can’t sleep. I can’t eat without feeling sick. My hair has fallen out and I have acne. This thing kicks me like he’s kicking a long field goal all the time and my ribs and pelvis are spread so far apart I fear they will stick this way! More time, my very big ASS!
If that wasn’t enough, I had to endure all the speculation that it could be twins. Being the awesome, “let’s do this natural” dumb-ass that I was, I opted for no ultrasound. So some times the little devil’s heartbeat would echo and because of my grandiose size, the doc thought it could be twins. Great! I wasn’t prepared for one, let alone two. And then there was the endless guessing games people like to play. “I bet it’s a boy. No a girl, girls make you gain extra weight and take all your beauty.” Awesome! Thanks for that! At which point I, in my infinite wisdom and desperation to regain my body, agreed to go camping. The idea was that if I made myself, thus little demon, as uncomfortable as possible, it (he or beauty sucking she) would get the hell out. And low and behold it worked! At 4am I had to pee, something I had to do every 5 minutes because my bladder had become little fiend’s pillow, and I couldn’t walk. I remember crawling on the sand all the way to the outdoor potty thinking, for the love of God this has got to end. What the F#@K was I thinking. By the next night I was in full-blown, pain unimaginable, labor. The demon spawn was on its way.
On September 24th 1991 at 2:51pm, after many hours of pain and yelling at my freaked out mother to stop insisting to my doctor that I have a C Section, it came. All 10 pounds of screaming baby girl. They handed her to me and I had no idea what on earth to do with her, but she knew exactly what was up. She latched on, bright eyes looking up at me and filled her hungry tummy. I, needless to say,was in complete awe. A state that would become the norm for me.
Everyone warned me how labor would go down. They all told me how much sleep I would lose once I had a child. All the experts advised me on the chaos of child rearing, from poopy diapers to teething and tantrums. From the terrible twos to the teen age crazies. But no one warned me, not one person prepared me for the most important part. Not one person told me the truth, that I would fall madly in love with this tiny little being. So in love, that I would willingly give my last breath for her, that I would lose all sense of self just to see her smile. That I would get lost in her laughter, become mesmerized by her beauty and charmed by her whimsical spirit. That I would unconditionally love her like I never believed possible. That I would know her to become my sweetest gift.
Watching her grow and become her unique self has been nothing short of a miraculous journey. Her natural wonder and creativity has been truly remarkable. I can honestly say she has never given me anything but joy, since the moment she came into this world. I would give her the moon if I could, just to watch her eyes dance with delight. Those same eyes that sparkled when she asked if she could touch the moon, to which I replied, yes my love and held up a mirror to let it catch the orbs reflection in the glass so her little fingers could run across its light. From that day on I thought of her as my Moonshine.
My daughter Ariel turned twenty-one today and I am still smitten by her. I can, without bias, say she is an absolutely wonderful, beautiful, brilliant woman. Not once in her life have I ever felt anything but proud. She continues to astound me with her intelligence, her diligence, her graciousness, and mostly her heart, which is the biggest part of what makes her so incredibly special. She owns my heart and I am so blessed to have her in my life. Thank you my “Moonshine” for always being your beautiful unique self, shining your graceful light and living as such a fine example to anyone who has the honor of knowing you. I love you.
Ariel Aulani ~ Gift from above