Learning to walk

Newborn, I cradle you in my arms. So tiny, so precious. Eyes wide and deep brown, stare into mine with a wisdom still carried from the womb.

I hold you close to my heart, rock you as we walk through the house. I sit on the worn white sofa and guide your hungry mouth to my breast. As you nurse I gaze out the window at rows of spring greens bursting forth their life-giving leaves. Mustard, arugula spinach and lettuce sparkle in the spring sunshine as tulips bloom in pots on the porch.

Someday, I think, this world will be yours.

How far away such a day seemed on that spring morning in 1991. A day when this tiny being, now drawing nourishment from my body, would step out into the sunshine on her own. So many days must first pass – long hours learning to crawl, to toddle on the porch holding onto those pots for balance.

There will be birthday parties, trick or treating, colorful paintings pinned to the refrigerator. Childcare, first days of school and graduations. Temper tantrums and brownie baking. Training wheels, swim lessons, recitals and somersaults.

Holding hands to cross a street until one day that soft, chubby hand is snatched away in a burst of independence. Reading you story after story at bedtime and then pretending to fall asleep until your steady breathing allows me to tiptoe away to my own pursuits.

Still awaiting were the hours spent holding your nearly grown body as you sobbed your way through breakups and college rejections, and then kissing you goodbye as you rolled your suitcase onto an airplane and out of our daily lives.

Such a long stretch of days that spells out a childhood, an adolescence and finally an emergence into womanhood. Days that seem to last forever as they unfold, but as memories are like quickly fizzling sparklers.

Springtime – such a lovely time to be born, I remember thinking as I watched our little garden grow, my baby so peacefully suckling at my breast.

Such a beautiful place to be born into, as Tim tucked your little body into his wool coat and we walked across the dunes to watch the Pacific ocean crash onto the sand.

So much passion, I thought when at three you announced to everyone who would listen that you were going to be a famous actress and proceeded to put on a little play to prove it.

8th Grade Graduation

"I will remember you..."

The future star visits the Hollywood walk of stars

So much fire! As you sang your heart out on stage at 14, and everyone’s mouth dropped open to hear such a voice coming from such a young throat.

Today, Rosie, you turn 21. And today this world is yours. It all lies before you. Drink deep.

Live, love, laugh, risk, play – take it all on. In all its glory and all its pain, this world is here before you and you are meant to shine.

Happy Birthday.

Rosie O'Leary, December 2011