I love books, and I could spent an entire afternoon perusing the shelves of a library or bookstore. Today, however, I was in a hurry as I rushed into the big box bookstore with a myriad of things running through my mind. This particular chain not only sells books but has a small cafe in the back that offers coffee and homemade pastries. As we walked inside, my daughter stopped me and pointed out the scent which radiated from the cafe. I had hardly even noticed the deliciousness, but recognized it immediately as one of my favorite. My daughter told me, “Smell those cinnamon rolls, mom. Doesn’t that smell good? I nodded in agreement and hurried to find the item I needed. She stopped me again, took a deep breath and said, “soak it in, mom: just embrace the moment”.
I looked into her eyes and decided that this phrase personified my daughter’s entire personality. Bless her heart, she has been trying to teach me that lesson for many years now, but I am a slow learner. The lessons began 14 years ago on a day that most modern women dread: my 30th birthday. I wasn’t exactly excited to turn the page from the 20’s and had made big plans to celebrate the day. I had hired a babysitter and had dinner and movie plans with my husband. I don’t remember what movie we were going to watch, but I never got to see it as I was about to receive an unexpected birthday surprise.
This particular gift began with labor pains in the middle of the night. The contractions were very insistent, but I wasn’t due for another 3 weeks, so I tried to ignore them as they interrupted my sleep every few mintues. When the sun finally came up, we decided that we had better call our doctor to see what was happening. The entire time I waited in the waiting room I did not have any contractions–not a single one. This was to be my third child. I should know what real labor feels like by now shouldn’t I?
Unbeknownst to me, my water had broken, and the doctor announched that I was indeed about to give birth. My world was about to be forever changed in ways I could not have ever imagined. Our tiny birthday bundle wasted no time in getting here. In 30 short minutes, we reached the 10 centimeters’ threshold. Best. Birthday. Ever. The nurses scrambled to find the doctor and made the final preparations for our baby. Time stopped for a few moments as I was enveloped in peace and was overcome with love for this little one who was about to change my existence. I felt Brinley’s soul before I saw her face or heard her take her first breath.
The most beautiful, dark haired, dark eyed infant emerged and was placed on my belly, and I was awestruck with her presence. She made no attempt to cry out in protest of her abrupt change of environment. I will always remember the sight of her lying there, perfectly content, with her dark brown eyes searching the room around her in awe. What a sight it must have been: what thoughts must have been running through her mind! She continued to silently stare into my eyes, uttering no sound, but communicating volumes. I was content to watch our miracle, but the nurses and doctors needed to hear her cry. We rubbed her newborn skin and irritated her until she finally took a breath and began to cry. That was the first time I heard my birthday gift tell me, “soak this in, Mom: just embrace this moment”.
The nurses in the hospital wanted to hold my little girl and were eager to tell me what a picture perfect baby we had. I didn’t need them to tell me though. Her ivory skin and her dark long eyelashes gave her the appearance of a sculpted porcelain doll. Her tiny fingers and perfect features were simply beautiful. She was and continues to be best birthday gift any 30 year old mother could ask for. We took her home the next day, and our home was permeated with a feeling of peace that it is hard to describe. Her mere presence emanated feelings of calm and sereness to all who were lucky to know her.
Brinley Ann soon became part of our family, and her personality literally bubbled out of her. Long before she learned to enunciate verbally, my baby girl had her own way of communicating with the world, through her captivating eyes and irrestible smile. Everywhere we went our little girl would make a connection with someone. From the neighbor in line behind me at the grocery store, to the stranger in the airport, she somehow caught their attention and would stare at them until they were compelled to talk to her. It is uncanny the connection she has with people. We have all been entranced by her bright smile and magical personality, from day one.
Brinley, or Boo as we called her, is an observer, noticing things no one else sees. I will never forget her telling me that the baby chicks (aka eggs from the fridge) need a mother or pointing out the beauty of the snow falling in the snow globes on the store shelf. I can recall her tiny voice laughing in excitement, watching the rocks float through the canal, waiting in anticiation for them to escape under the bridge on the other side. One of my favorite lifetime memories happened late one evening when my daughter pleaded with me to join her outside to “come wish upon a star”. In other words: “Stop, Mom–Soak this in. Embrace. The. Moment”.
Numerous times she has pointed out the sunset or the color of the leaves or commented on the shade of the blue sky. She loves life. She embraces life. She is happy. She continues to make friends everywhere she goes. She has been teaching me to slow down and enjoy life ever day since she was born. Just the other day I was driving to work early one morning. Brinley happened to be with me as I drove on the same road that I had driven on every day for nearly 10 years. My birthday gift stopped me mid thought and said, “Look, Mom. Look how gorgeous the mountains look today”. I looked up and glanced out the windshield to see that she was right. Wow, do I live in a beautiful place. Too bad I hadn’t noticed recently.
I only have a few years left with my little porcelain doll who now swims competetively, is a proficient student, plays the piano and is a great softball player who cheers for anyone who scores a run, no matter which team’s jersey they wear. Brinley succeeds at everything because she isn’t afraid to try. She told me the other day that she loves the feel of the water against her face as she dives into the water and it rushes by her body. I want to be like her when I grow up. I am trying to learn what she has to teach me before she flies from my nest. I only have a limited number of sunrises left with her at home before I have to share her with the rest of the world. In the meantime I am going to do my best to notice the beautiful, wonderful scenery around me and soak up every experience life has to offer.
Embrace each and every one of those moments, my sweet birthday miracle. You are truly a gift from God. You brought part of heaven with you, and I am trying to understand His message when I look into your eyes. You are indeed amazing, just the way you are, and the world truly does smile with you. I hope you enjoy every conversation, savor every cinnamon roll and relish the rush of water against your face every day of your life. And, don’t worry about those baby chicks in the fridge. Somewhere they do have a mother.