You were my first loves. Never before had I felt anything maternal until you both came into this world. The way you girls grabbed my hand. The way your tiny arms would wrap around my shoulders every time I picked one of you up. We did not live near each other, but distance only makes the heart grow fonder. I would attend every family event so I could just be around your smiling faces. 

As the years passed, I would watch you girls grow up from afar. I had my own future to plan but still held on to my love for you both. When I met the man I would marry, I told him about my first babies. He had to pass the test and gain your trust, too. When I was pregnant, I envisioned a sweet girl, just like my precious nieces. I knew how to parent a baby girl because of you. God knew what he was doing though.

The bond we share cannot be replicated, so I am blessed with two sons. 

Soon, I became busy with toddlerhood and activities. Your mother kept me in the loop of your accolades, but not all. Being humble is something that runs in your family. I never heard about the trophies or prizes. I only saw pictures from dance recitals and picnics. I listened to you girls play the piano over the phone. How I wanted to join in the fun! But I knew we would still be connected.

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The days you went off to college, sadness came upon me. I know I did not get to be around you every day but that did not make the pain any less that the nest was less full as you girls started forging your own paths. Your parents did a great job raising strong, civic-minded ladies. You make wise choices, you are both smart, and kind. Your beauty is one that is not covered by layers of makeup. Natural in every sense of the word, you radiate a glow that others stop to admire.

I will always be first in that line of admiration.

As the world changes, I look at you girls for signs that you are changing, too. Your values do not change. You are still the same sweet toddlers who tugged on the hem of my dress for a piece of chocolate all those years ago. You both have graduated college and have a plan for the next decade. You take trips, enjoy your friendships, and relish life. I am so proud of the adults you have become.

On your last visit, I could not help but shed a couple of tears when you were not looking. I cried because I am so proud. I cried because you two are the most beautiful, humble young ladies I know. I cried because I know the best is yet to come but I miss that age when I could scoop you both up and tell you how much I love you.

I cried because I know I did not miss out on having daughters because I have you.

Zeel Patel

Zeel Patel lives in North Carolina with her family and sweet puppy, Theodore Roosevelt. She works in healthcare but her passion is writing. When not working, you can find her volunteering at her kids' schools, typing away on her laptop, or reading well into the night. Her motivation comes from those who were not granted enough time to finish their story. Follow her on Twitter @zpatel24