Arden and me, 1999
Babies can be born under the most complicated of circumstances. Sometimes relationships are strained, sometimes families are divided, sometimes life's problems are far from being solved. And the moment your baby comes into this world as her perfect, exquisite little self, you realize that this world isn't good enough for her. This world has not fixed itself enough to appreciate the extraordinary gift that is your child. In a panic, you try to make the world what you think it should be. You try to control everything you can, along with everything you can't, and you do your damndest to make life the best it can be for her. You'll be surprisingly good at reading her cues and knowing who and what she needs and when she needs it. For a little while, anyway.
As time trickles on, as it slowly and surely does, you won't even realize that your baby is starting to need you less and less. She'll stop sharing her every thought and feeling and eventually you'll be making more and more guesses about what's on her mind. The answers won't be clear and you won't know for certain what she needs and when. You'll still try your damndest to make the world what you want it to be for her but that world gets bigger and bigger and more mysterious every day.
One day you'll realize that you still haven't figured it all out and you still haven't solved all of life's problems but you've loved her just the same. Your heart will continue to be pulled in a million different places, even torn to bits, and though she certainly deserves it, you will never know what it's like to care for her in a perfect world.
One day she'll be thirteen, and you'll finally get to see the person she's been trying to be all this time. The whole time you've been trying and changing, she's been trying and changing, too. And you'll see that she's been a teenager all along. This is who she's been the whole time.
Today, I celebrate her, on her thirteenth birthday, and every single second of every single day.