Yesterday, as we drove home from a company retreat up in Princeton, B.C. my husband and I had a chance to talk! (Yay for road trips and double yay for DVDs in the car). It was the eve of our firstborn’s 9th birthday and we had a lot to reminisce about. Inaya is responsible for so much good in our lives. Just by showing up when she did she was able to bridge a divide between my husband and his father and older sister. I also truly believe she was the reason why my mom held on to life as long as she did. Inaya initiated my creative recovery, launched me into a deep dive of that lovely, fulfilling question: “Who am I?” She made my husband softer, and showed him a more colourful picture with tangents and surprises. All the gifts a linear person needs to really enjoy life.

So, on this birthday, I’d like to share a blog post that my husband and I co-wrote in the minivan while Annie sang “Tomorow” and I tried not to be distracted by my favourite parts of the movie.

We came up with 9 wishes for our sweetheart who, a blog post I read earlier this year reminded me, is halfway to adulthood. *sniff* And here they are:

  1. We wish for Inaya a life of adventure. Inaya was always a tentative child. We actually never even babyproofed the house because we just knew Inaya wouldn’t get into anything. And she didn’t. She is cautious and pensive…but there is this part of her that I think really wants to get out there, and we do see glimpses more and more as she has new experiences. She loves fast rides and loopdeloops, and she talks about travel and freedom. We hope and pray that she decides to take the adventurous road when she can. We hope that, when we can’t tag along with her, she comes home to us with stories and that sparkle in her eye that we love.
  2. We wish for Inaya a life of fulfillment. We don’t care what Inaya ends up ‘being when she grows up’ and in fact, we hope she knows she can be multiple things. The important thing is that she feel fulfilled in everything she does, personally and professionally. We hope her measure of success is that peaceful, soulful feeling that Gandhi said comes from having everything she does, thinks and says be in harmony.
  3. We wish for Inaya the love of a family for all her life. The 5 of us are really close and we are also lucky to have a network of extended family that openly loves our children. We pray that as Inaya grows so does the family that loves her. We also pray that when her parents are no longer physically with her, she is surrounded by loved ones.
  4. We wish for Inaya a lifetime of unity with her siblings. May nothing ever come between them. May they always be each other’s ‘home’ no matter where they live in the world, or how they choose to live their lives. They are the only ones who truly know where each other comes from and their memories and experiences will run deeper and longer than with anyone else. May that always be their glue, and may they evolve into friends of the most special kind.
  5. We wish for Inaya true friendships that celebrate her for exactly who she is. It’s hard for a 9 year old to know just how many people she will encounter in her life; she still has high school friends and university friends and colleagues and neighbours etc. to meet. Many of these people will be pleasant acquaintances, but there will be a handful, we hope, of people who will have her back no matter what. We look forward to welcoming those people into her life and watching them live and learn together.
  6. We wish for Inaya a lifetime of great health. May she eat, drink and be merry, always.
  7. We wish for Inaya an attitude of ‘endless possibilities.’ We were going to say that we wished her endless possibilities, but really more important than the number of opportunities that are presented to her is the ability to see those opportunities even before they materialize. We want that for her. We want her to always know that she has options to create whatever life she wishes and that all her dreams are really just plans that she has the power to set into motion.
  8. We wish for Inaya a life of following her curiosities and enjoying her passions. Whether it’s farming or animals, music or dance, reading or storytelling…whatever she thinks is interesting or fun, we want her to always make the time and create the space for it.
  9. We wish for Inaya the ability to love herself unconditionally. Even as I write this, I know there will be times when her confidence in herself may be shaken. She may doubt herself or her abilities. She has a long road ahead and we hope it is paved with self-love.

Tomorrow our firstborn will be 9 years plus a day. And the rest of the year will fly by. She’s already excited about double-digits next year. I remember her first few months (sleepless months) when I’d pace her room trying to coax her into slumber, and I would make up songs in my delirium. Many of them were about longing for a night that she would sleep through (even at other people’s homes so I could get a night ‘off’). Now when she wants to sleep over somewhere I ask her twice, “Are you sure?” because I truly value her company, and I miss her when she’s not around. Her role as firstborn (especially with a sibling 6.5 years her junior) comes with some responsibility and though I wish she wasn’t always the first to volunteer to help, I know that her maturity will serve her well later. But also as firstborn she is the one who watched me grow into motherhood and the friendship that resulted from that has been one of my greatest gifts. I only hope she feels the same throughout her life.

We love you, Inaya. Happy birthday!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative