I imagine you curled tightly as a snail within me, a coil of hope and anticipation as you sleep in the cradle of my womb. When you move, I liken you to a little goldfish, twisting and shimmying in the sea of my belly. When you are removed from me, like the pulp of a pumpkin being hollowed out, it is my face that will light up like a jack o'lantern. When you cross the portal and are given to me, I will hold you tightly to my chest, a squirming poker hand. My smile will make it apparent to all that I've finally done something right in this game of life. I will kiss you, count your fingers and toes, tell you your name. I will be selfish in the matter of sharing you. I will not want to give you up. I will not want to let you down.
Your father cannot understand as I already do how it will be between you and I. We will fight. It will be a brutal, interminable war, one which we will fight until you are as old as me, and only then will it be clear that we are on the same side. He has already told me he cannot imagine you being as hostile with me as I was with my own mother. But I know. You're already a fighter and you already like to stir things up - my stomach moves with all the turbulence of a stormy sea; you're a tiny hurricane charging toward land. I know what's coming. I am as prepared as I can possibly be, but there will be damage. There always is. And each time, you will think it is the apocalypse. I am ready. I wish I could help you to be ready, too.
I hope as every mother does that you will grow up to have the best of your father and me. My memory; his patience. His hair and eyes and smile. My nose and my giggle. Of course I have dreams for you. I want you to love books. I want you to excel in math and science, as I never could. I want you to be kind, honest, and intuitive. I want to be there for everything. Your first laugh. When you start walking. When you say you own name for the first time. I want to teach you things, like how to throw and catch a baseball, and how to read, and how to find shapes in the clouds. I want to teach you how to do a cartwheel but I can't do one myself. Maybe you'll be the one who teaches me.
When you no longer move within me, I will have already begun the painful process of letting you go. The world will all at once close and open upon you and you will be instantly fixated on dominating it. I will miss you, and I am acutely aware that joy and pain cohabitate inside a mother's heart as she watches her child grow up - a bittersweet experience. Yes, I will miss you, but I will hold on to the hope that one day, you will turn to me and understand everything about us. You will run headlong into my arms, pressing your weight against my belly, reminding us both of a time when we were one.