Happy Birthday, Scout


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Dear Scout Murphey,

Today is your second birthday. Your first birthday, your actual birth day, was a whole year ago today. I know I’m stating the obvious, but the obvious is blowing my mind. This year, I have learned that the collective wisdom of parents past is true, at least when it yaks on about how the days are long but the years are short, and when it won’t shut up about how transformative parenthood will be, and when it becomes a broken record saying things like, “You’ll love like you never knew you could.”

I never knew I could love like I love you, Scout Murphey. Not even when they said it a million billion kajillion times.

I wish I could give you something meaningful for your big day, something more than board books and a plastic airplane to knock of the shelf, as you do with all things. For weeks I’ve been thinking about what I could say to you on this day of all days. What do I want you to know, Funny Buns? What do I want you to remember? And in trying not to yak on like all those worn out parents past, I’ll just give you one thing.

I will try not to need you too much, Little Duck.

That is my gift. There you are. Happy birthday. I will try not to need you too much.

I’ve noticed it growing inside me this year, this dependency on you to make me feel important. You look to me for life, sustenance, comfort, and learning and you look at me like I’m the coolest, funniest, most interesting being that ever walked on the face on Earth. I’ve been collecting those looks, gobbling them up, filling my tank with those hits of validation.

Validation—it’s a word us grown-ups throw around a lot, but almost never do we talk about it coming from our children. Maybe that’s because children stop validating their parents at some point. That sounds right, now that I think of it. I’m sure this is just a phase. I’m sure you will learn that there are cooler people out there, and better jokes, and more interesting things. But I will try to be ready for you to learn that. I will try not to mourn the change so very much when it comes. I will try not to be so addicted to your love and your looks that I need you more than I help you. I will try to find my own internal sources of validation so you can learn how to do that too. I will try to show you that my love for you can fill a planet, but it cannot fill your soul. Your soul is not mine to fill, Busy Bee. I will try not to pretend that it is.

So go enjoy your birthday, Baby Girl. Paint the town red. Eat cake. Open presents. Walk.

Or don’t walk just yet.


Or crawl a little longer.

Slow down. Stay little.

Grow big. Learn more.


Ignore me.

I’m torn.

I’m zen.

I’m your mother. For better or for worse, I’m your mother.

There you are. Happy birthday.



Listening to: The Weepies, “Nobody Knows Me At All”

1 comment :

  • Carly Sessions

    This is BEAUTIFUL. And re-reading Scout’s birth story made me cry big soppy wet tears. And made my arms ache to hold my baby girl. Thank you.

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