Today is Kowhai's second birthday. Two years ago today I was pacing the corridors of Hutt Hospital in a zombie-like state after two nights of no sleep. I was moaning and howling and roaring. I was making a mental note of the name of the anaesthetist who gave me an epidural so I could nominate her for canonisation. And, finally, I was holding Kowhai, the girl who everyone thought was going to be a boy.
You will have heard the often quoted parenting cliche - they grow up so quickly. To be honest, it hasn't really felt all that fleeting so far. There are days and weeks on end where it seems like nothing is changing. Then there are times when Kowhai comes up with a new saying, or performs a new trick, and I realise the massive changes taking place in her. I had one of those moments of marvel a few days ago, when I said to Apa "Can you believe she's been here for two years?" But it was a double edged awe; there was the wonder of how quickly two years has passed, but also, the disbelief that here is this little person with a personality so completely formed, and who is such a huge part of my life, and I've only known her for two years.
I experienced an overpowering moment of realisation last night. We've recently taken the sides off Kowhai's cot, and as I lay in my bed in the darkness, I was hyper aware of every creak and moan coming from within the walls of our home. I was on high alert. Was that soft bump the thud of Kowhai falling out of her cot, onto the mattress we've been keeping next to her? Was that creak the click of an intruders bones as he comes to spirit my babe away? (I have an irrational fear of the dark, specifically of home intruders.) As I lay there, body tensed, ears pricked up, senses vigilant, I had an epiphany. This is my life now. That other motherhood cliche about how having children is like your heart walking around outside of your body is so true. I need to know how she is. I need to know that she is okay. I will always be listening, watching, aware. And I will feel this feeling forever. When she goes to sleepovers I will be half-awake, listening in case the phone rings and I have to pick her up. When she goes to parties I will not sleep properly until the second she steps through our front door, home again. When she moves out of home I will need to know that she is safe, happy, healthy. I am a Mama. This is my life now.
Kowhai is two. She has unruly hair, and an impressive fat lip from when she face planted the ground yesterday. She is good at climbing and jumping, but not always good at watching where she is going. She has enormous blue eyes rimmed with long, thick, dark, enviable lashes. She likes The Wiggles & Yo Gabba Gabba. She is cheeky and mischievous, sweet and bossy. She has an outie belly button and a freckle on her left shin in the exact same place that I have a birthmark. This, more than anything, marks her as mine. She is my daughter. I had a hand in making her. She came from me. It says so right there on her leg.