All the little pieces of the puzzle

I swore I’d never be the kind of mom who sobs every time her child has a “first”. First step, first word, first friend, first anything so far and I’ve been really good with it. Genuinely happy and proud with a smile so big and satisfaction so deep it feels as if my heart grows comfortably bigger and stronger with the size of my joy.

But today, as much as there is that joy and pride in me, my heart also feels as if it’s being pulled so wide that it actually hurts. Today, my daughter started preschool. And I am two seconds away from tears.

The only other person on this earth who has known Zahara as long as me and as intimately as me is nowhere to be found. He has nothing to do with this or any other first my daughter has had for the past three years. But he was a part of so many firsts before that:

The moment she was created to the first time we saw her on the ultrasound screen, a tiny speck that was too small to even confirm as a pregnancy because even though I KNEW already that this baby existed, the OB couldn’t be sure at only a few weeks into it.

The first time we heard her heartbeat and every time afterwards that we heard that strange cyclic whooshing noise that meant our child was strong. Our child was alive. This child’s heart was, thank God, pumping steadily as the previous child’s had not, and we waited nervously to hear it every month and breathed easier once we had.

The first time we saw her whole form, her head, her arms and legs, the length of her curved up little body on that black and white and grainy ultrasound tv. And the first time we saw her yawn and turn over and cross her legs, so real and close even though she wasn’t even born yet.

The first breath she took in this world, the first moment she awoke to this life, HE saw those firsts. He saw her before I did. He watched and experienced her first second of living with her and I, her second.

And now…

The heart is so strange. It can be pulled and twisted and grown and broken and repaired and reformed and always, always, that muscle is working harder and harder and keeping survival as its only goal.

My daughter’s heart must be a product of my own heart’s efforts. A piece of my heart became hers. That’s the only way I can explain this feeling, like I was being pulled into that preschool with her, a little scared, a lot excited, anxious, expectant, hopeful, confused.

It’s the only way I can explain how she and I continuously give each other strength and hope and love and our hearts keep growing and beating together. How she became stronger than me and I thank God every single day for it.

It’s also the only way I can explain how the only other person on this earth who knew her since her first firsts doesn’t feel what I feel. I’m not angry about it, though. I just feel sad for him, because he doesn’t have the relationship he could have had with her. He doesn’t know the beautiful pain, the horrible joy of moments like these.

Because that’s a piece of MY heart in there, pumping madly for survival and joy and all her many many firsts to come, God willing.

That’s why it hurts like this. Because that’s a piece of my heart that has gone so far away today- being cared for and fed and watched and changed and hugged by someone other than me or my family for a whole day for the first time…stretching the muscle beating in me more than ever before.

Stretching, not tearing. Expanding to create even more of itself to give us both, my daughter and me, the courage and the capability to face every new first, every adventure, every loss, every moment together…with tears and toughness and tenderness and all that we can possibly need of each other.

So yeah, I want to sob, but it’s a good kind of sob. It’s a mom kind of sob. And I’m okay with that.

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