Happy Birthday Avital!

To my darling little girl, on her first birthday –

A year ago you entered our lives and changed it in ways we could have never conceived. I had dreamed of being a mother ever since I was a little girl, but our lives with you in them are far greater than any dream I could have ever dreamed.

We spent almost ten months together, just the two of us, and I thanked God everyday for the miracle He was crafting inside of me. I spent those months day-dreaming about you. Would you look like me or like your Abba? Would you have his silly sense of humour or inherit the stick that is forever up my butt? Would you be shy and cautious or outgoing and friendly? I wondered what kind of relationship we would have. Would it resemble the relationship I had with your Safta? Would you pay me back for all those teenage years? What would we call you? Abba and I were forever disagreeing on names and I was worried that we would never find a name we could both agree on.

But from the moment I first saw you, I knew. You were Avital Chana – no doubt about it. In that single moment, you forever changed our lives.

In one short year you have taught me so much about life. Being a mother has taught me that I really knew nothing at all before this. I thought that I knew what love was, but that first look we shared taught me about more love than I had learned in twenty-three years. Not the kind of love you read about in fairy tales, but the kind of unconditional, all-encompassing, stand-in-front-of-a-bus kind of love. You taught me that all those no’s that your Safta so generously shared with me, especially in those teenage years, had meaning and purpose. That no one knows what her daughter needs more than her mother (even when she’s halfway across the world). Suddenly all those years of teenage angst had so much clarity. Suddenly my life had so much more purpose and meaning.

But with all those fluffy, happy feelings, came feelings of anxiety too. Any mother that says she hasn’t had even a glimmer of anxiety is lying. I worried how we would fare, just the two of us, when all the visitors had gone home, Abba had gone back to work and it was just you and me against the world. I was anxious about the first time you would cry inconsolably and how I would handle it. Would I know what you wanted and needed from me? I hoped that years down the line, when I faced the payback for the hell I put my mother through, that I would do right by you; that you would know in those moments how much you were loved.

Watching you grow and develop has brought me so much joy and so much pride. I will never forget that first smile we shared, the first time that I made you laugh or the look on your face when I come into your room every morning. I love the special relationship you have with your Abba and with your puppy dog. Watching from the corner as you interact with them never ceases to fill my heart.

Every moment of discomfort during the pregnancy, the twenty-four hours of labour and sleepless nights were all worth it for those moments every day when you look up at me with those big beautiful eyes and that wide smile with those two little teeth.

Thank you for giving me a gift far greater than I could have imagined – the gift of being your Imma.
Thank you for teaching me about the world in ways I could have never thought of before.
Thank you for teaching me to stress less and love more.
Thank you for teaching me to stop and smell the roses, because those moments are always so fleeting.
Thank you for inspiring me to be my best, because you deserve nothing less than my very best.

Thank you to God for watching over you and our family for this last year, for providing us with all the blessings in our lives.

I pray that in the years to come I will be able to merit the gift I have been given. I pray that you will always know that while I can’t always protect you, I will forever be a safe space to come back to. I pray that you will know that in those moments when you don’t understand, I am always doing what I think is best for you.

Happy Birthday to my sweet little angel. I love you.

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