The adrenaline rush never wore off. I'd read a million baby books but you apparently hadn't. You didn't do anything according to how the million baby books said you should do it. And you were terribly unhappy with the help, so to speak, which was basically your big old inadequate pile of mommy nerves. But God, how I loved you! I loved you to the point of hysteria. Hysteria over everything you did or didn't do. And always questioning....questioning.....until I finally let you teach me.
I love you from more of a distance than I'm comfortable with. You like your space - physically and emotionally. I'm not sure you realize I'm doing this loving business from afar....I'm pretty sure you think I'm doing it in your face.
I never know what is coming up around the corner...just when I get used to one thing, the next thing pops up. You were my first baby, my first toddler, my first big kid, my first teenager..... How can I know what to do and how to do it? I've never done it before. Neither have you. And there's that whole thing about you not getting any of the memos about the Way Things Are Usually Done.
I'm walking blind, running wild, desperately floundering....that's how I love you.
I've loved every You I've been presented with. The precocious toddler, the surly little girl, the intense pre-teen, the driven teenager, the beautiful young woman. You were always defined by your bulletin board - Bob Dylan pics and lyrics....poetry....pins and bumper stickers. And by your music - you little B-Side snob. Always finding something new - something edgy....then backing off when the masses caught on. And by your books: You're reading This is All again. And you're reading Extremely Loud Incredibly Close again. You're reminiscing, aren't you?
And always - the tattered and torn Pride and Prejudice. You've been carrying it around like a security blanket. You're excited. But I think you're a bit nervous. I always know what you're reading....it's one of the ways that I love you.
I'd like to say it'll get calmer, more peaceful, less intense....somehow. But it won't. You're leaving. And I'm supposed to keep breathing anyway.
Hysteria just below the surface.
Someday you'll do something huge; like maybe get married or have a child. And I'll be hysterical about it. Or maybe you'll do neither and I'll be hysterical about that. Or you'll study abroad, or go on a world tour, or win a Grammy. And I'll be hysterical.
Someday soon, you'll be playing the piano for people who are Not Me....songs I haven't heard....I won't have memorized every little facial expression you make at this point or that...every little mannerism of the wrist or shoulders....for the songs you're playing now - this is familiar territory for me. Watching you play - I know what to expect. Now. But someday soon - I'll show up to hear you play something...unfamiliar....and I'll be like everybody else. I'll be an Audience Member, watching you on the stage of your life...of your world....not paying attention to the rules...and I'll be unsure of what's coming next...not even knowing when the song is over. Is it time to clap? I won't know. But I'm your biggest fan.
This bittersweet time of anticipating the hugest change....this Going Off To College Era....it's making me love you with a fierceness I haven't felt since you were a newborn screaming in my arms and not wanting to be held.....and me squeezing more tightly because I simply didn't know what else to do....Only this time I can't squeeze more tightly. This time I have to let go. It's counterintuitive. It's making me crazy. And yet - I'm so thrilled. And excited. And happy.
That's the way I love you. In a way that doesn't make sense. With a desperate, fierce, hysterical love. It's the way I'll always love you. And you love me quietly. Undemonstratively. Intelligently. Respectfully. Patiently. Slowing down every so often so I can catch up. You say things, every now and then, that let me know you approve of how this has all played out. You're content with the way you've been raised. The way you've been loved.
And that's the way that you love me.
I love you with a carefree heart and a silly smile. I've never been able to stop smiling around you. You crack a joke - I laugh - you say I'm easy to impress. But the truth is, nothing's been easy for us. So we both deserve to laugh. Also? You're pretty funny.
You were an easy birth. You were of normal weight, no jaundice, no complications. No Screaming. Grins, giggles, and chubby cheeks. Everything was By the Book with you. And....I waited for the other shoe to drop. Because I'm kind of wired that way. But it all seemed fine....it really did! Until it was time to talk. And you wouldn't. Until it was time to follow simple directions. And you couldn't. But you communicated with me very well....through sound effects and sign language and charades. And I understood every word. Perfectly.
I love you happily - and humorously - because the two of us? Are funny people, even though not everybody thinks so. We appreciate that about each other. I cherish the car rides, where you tell me nonstop jokes. I love that you laugh at mine. I love it when you talk like Richard Nixon and call me a damn hippy. Or a stinkin' liberal. Because that's the way you love me.
I love that you like me.
You're getting your learner's permit soon - you'll be driving. And I'm nervous, but not hysterical. Hysterical is reserved for Ellie.
I love you with....reckless abandon.
And I love the way you love your brother. Always knowing the right thing to say or do....when I'm all out of ideas.