Posted by: alegra22 | February 20, 2011

kicking starfish

 Yesterday, you woke up with your cheek pressed into my back, your small hand curled over the curve of my hip. Before you spotted the bouquet of balloons hanging from the fan above your head, you told me your dreams. You dreamed of cracks in the sidewalk that widened with cricket song. You didn’t want us to be separated. You said that you were calling to me, trying to get to me. I reassured you that I would never allow myself to be divided from you, and then, because I didn’t want to think about all of the things in the world I cannot control, I pointed to the balloons and the crown I made for you with the words “Zaviera: Birthday Princess” written on in it.

All month we have been talking about your birthday and the fact that you are turning four. I told you that I would wake you up one morning and surprise you, I would whisper, “Good morning precious, it’s your birthday!” We’ve been discussing what it means to turn four, including that it might be time to let go of your dadu, because, really, only babies like your little brother use pacifiers. As the days have passed, I’ve caught you under the table, furtively sucking on Joaquin’s dadu. Upon discovery, your eyes light up, you fling the dadu across the room as if you are so lightning fast, there is no possibility I could have seen what’s happened. You smile with your crooked teeth and scramble away, giggling to yourself.

All day you wore your crown. I was so proud. Scissors, paper, and staples, nothing more was needed to turn you into a princess.

Tomorrow is the day you were born. Tonight, as you aligned your small body with mine, trying to possess as much of my surface as you could, I began to hum to you and I realized that you had not asked for your dadu. Within a few moments you were asleep. I rested with you for a little longer, thinking of the day we spent at the beach.

Today, I waded out into the ocean as you sat on the shore, afraid of the water, declaring that you “just needed a little rest.” You sat on your pink bodyboard and watched me. I waved to you as the water rose around my body. My feet sunk into the sand, small, rough objects scraping against my toes. I looked down to see starfish lifting up through the water and sinking back down. I waved to you once more and dove beneath the surface. When I came back up, you were not crying. You had edged closer to the water, dragging your bodyboard behind you. Your older brother had his hands full of the baby starfish and was pacing in front of you, waving them in the air, talking excitedly. You were uninterested in his commotion.

Knowing that you had your eyes on me, I dove down again, just to show you what was possible. I swam a little further, stayed underwater a little longer, and then I surfaced again.

 I’ve been thinking about the promise I made you in the days before you were born. I promised you that I would not let fear of failure stand in the way of pursuing my dreams. I wanted to give you a template of courage and acceptance. On your fourth birthday, as I moved toward you through the water, small starfish rising up around my ankles, I realized I wanted to expand that promise to you. I want you to know that not only do we need to step toward our dreams, we also need to have the faith that our dreams are moving toward us. What is ours is ours.  

My daughter, you are the dream I never expected to find me. You are teaching me that I don’t need to pursue anything, I just need to open my heart and allow the rest to unfold.

I love you.



  1. Your words bring life, meaning and purpose to the very things most people take forgranted. Awesome precious!!

  2. Happy birthday, Zaviera!

  3. Wonder reflection of the day. Happy B-day, Z!

    Sol only had one sentence, but that sentence cracked me up. That is something I would do.

  4. This made me cry in the very best of ways. I love your writing. Like you said: it feels familiar. Oh how I love this post.

  5. I love your ability to slow time and really dig down deep into a moment. We could all use more of that in our lives.


    Happy birthday to Z, happy birthing day to you.

  6. Happy birthday and days after the birthday days! May all days be full of wonder and surprise for you both.

    With more love than I can ever manage to send long distance….Happy 4th Birthday to my sweetie, Z! Big hugs and smiles!
    Auntie Debbie

  7. Your post made me cry. Such truth.

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