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You Began in Love (or Someone Once Wiped Your Ass Over and Over Again)

My daughter turned one-year-old yesterday. Which has almost nothing to do with you, except it has everything do to with you. Because you were once a baby. And someone loved you as much as I love my girl.

Someone fed you. Someone burped you. Someone changed your diaper. Someone made sure you didn’t swallow tiny objects. Someone fruitlessly searched for shoes that would stay on your chubby paws. Someone buttoned your onesie even when you were squirming around. Someone blessed you when you sneezed those tiny baby sneezes and smiled at you when you let out those tiny baby hiccups. Someone got a centimeter from your chest while you slept to make sure you were still breathing. Someone held you in the dark and thought about how damn hard this is and, yet, how compelling.

Credit: Cia de Foto License: Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

I want you to know this because I didn’t know it before having Maya. Before having Maya, I was very grateful to my parents, my mom in particular. I could name a million amazing things she’d done for me during my conscious life — from the mundane to the sublime, coordinating carpools to creating cultural experiences so I could see beyond the confines of my hometown to the big, wide world. I was probably uncommonly aware and expressive about my gratitude for these things, a sensitive kid, a watcher and a communicator.

But I had very little understanding of the things my mom had done for me before I had consciousness. In the space before my memories start, I have realized, there is a galaxy of nurturing that I had never witnessed, a love the color of the darkest hour in the middle of the night, a generosity beyond generosity. If you’ve never mothered or fathered, or witnessed parenting up very, very close in the very, very beginning, you might be like I was, you might not fully comprehend how much you have been cared for. It’s almost impossible to take in.

Credit: Cia de Foto License: Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

But you must. You must right this moment pause and say to yourself, “Someone loved me enough to make sure that I survived my most defenseless days. When I could give almost nothing back — not even a simple thank you or a smile — someone relentlessly fulfilled my needs.”

I ask you do to this, not out of some martyr impulse. I don’t even care if you call this person and thank them (though that would be nice, hint, hint.) I ask you to do this out of sheer astonishment. It is the earliest and most fundamental affirmation that you were loved. And there are so many days, no doubt, when you question how much or how well you are loved. Rightfully so.

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