I went to eat lunch with Harlan this afternoon. Her school allows parents to come and visit during lunch time when it’s your child’s birthday. She’s been asking for a month to make sure that I was going to come and eat with her during her lunch for her birthday. I look forward to it as much as she does. Her lunchroom has a special birthday table and it’s reserved just for parents and the birthday kids. Every year it’s just been me and Har that sit at the table together and talk. Most of the time it’s about her new class (her birthday almost always falls on the first or second day of school.)

Today she asked a lot of questions about the future. She’s been asking more and more about things that will happen when she gets older. Many of her questions aren’t too in depth, but just some of the responsibilities that she could have as she gets older. Most of my answers to these questions is “I don’t know.” And I’ve noticed lately as she keeps asking more and more questions, my answer is always “I don’t know.” It’s not because I want to dodge the question, it’s genuinely because I don’t know the answer.

As my oldest, Harlan gets a lot of “I don’t knows.” Eight years ago, as I held her in my arms for the very first time, we started this path of the unknown. I walked blindly with her as we navigated the waters of our journey together. Motherhood was completely new to me. I knew nothing of what the future held for us. She’s the one that was there when I gained the confidence to breastfeed in public, the one held my hand as we navigated the streets of New York City together. It was Harlan that taught be to hold back my tears and put on a brave face when I had to let her off for that first day of school. And she’s always the one that lets me know that it’s okay to let go a little bit and give her the freedom that she needs. When I don’t know, it’s Harlan who leads me to the answer.

She’s my guinea pig. The one that let’s me test the waters. And the one that doesn’t miss a beat when I happen to miss one for both of us. It’s not easy being the oldest, but Harlan takes it with so much pride and confidence.

Tomorrow morning at 12:11pm marks eight years that our dear Harlan. Eight years of learning, laughing, experiencing, and growing. For all of us. And while I know she’ll say that these past eight years have been the best for her, what I don’t think she realizes is that she’s the one that’s made these past eight years the best for me.

Har, there’s going to be a lot more “I don’t knows” in our future. But thank you for being the one that takes that and shows me just how incredible the answers to your questions can be. Happy Birthday, sweet one. I love you.


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