mine

Yesterday, my daughter turned 11 years old. Eleven years old! Wow. Woah. How can this be? Well, this year I believe it a little bit more than I did last year- working my mind around the fact that a decade had passed since her birth was a weird one. Eleven was less, shall we say, unexpected?

I haven’t been the most terrific mother of all time. In fact, early on, I wasn’t even average. I really wish I could have that time machine slapped whimsically on my wish list, so I could go back to her early years and be there in ways I wasn’t able to at the time. I missed stuff. I missed stuff, and that stuff doesn’t come back around again.

This will probably be the only child I ever have. There’s a sort of symmetry to that. What she missed out on from me will be my loss too. I’m not going to try and ‘do it right’ now that I’m older, and some old wounds have healed more. This was my baby, this was my experience. There’s always been for me, in this one, a sort of secret spring of unbearable emotion, which I could only contain when she was young, walking a careful balance between feelings that seemed terrifying, and the dutiful imperative to care for a living organism.

Way back then I was her guardian. It’s only fairly recently, a handful of years maybe, that I’ve been more of a mother.

But someday she’ll know how deeply and continually she was loved. Here’s where the power of words come in: She has them now, the words. She clutched her carefully saved allowance money last week, and walked it by increments to the school librarian to take advantage of the school book fair. Day after day, w/out a word to anyone she came home with another book and another one. The possibility of a Nintendo DS game fell by the wayside, along with the d.v.d and candy options she’d been eyeing early on. Sierra opted for books.

And  in my dog-eared journals, years that signified the premature ending of a first college run, the discovery of a pregnancy, journals I don’t open because there are swift scratches of thoughts from a mind I’m still afraid to recognize, there’s a name repeated over and over, sometimes with question marks. There’s one little poem of joy, and endless statements of frustration, guilt, fear. This was language to a tiny, fragile daughter from a mother cocooned in fear. I’m glad she didn’t hear the odd, despairing yawps from this jumbled mind in her infancy; I’m glad choices that might have taken her farther away from me at least filled her world with the sounds of people and music and industry that all children need.

But someday she’ll find these and know, she has always been overwhelmingly, heart-breakingly loved.

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11 thoughts on “mine

  1. I’ll never forget the terror of sitting across the room staring at my first son, thinking I’d never, ever be capable of giving all he would need. How had the adoption agency trusted me and my husband to be solely responsible for this adorable blue-eyed, blonde baby when I knew nothing about babies? I had been the worst babysitter in the world. I knew they would find they had made a terrible mistake and take him back before the required year of waiting was up.

    But somehow we both survived, he into a wonderful, brilliant young man and me into a mother. I steeled myself for the terror when our daughter was brought in our house three years later. Amazingly, I was relaxed and two babies were almost as easy as one. By the time the second son was born, I had sibling helpers and almost no angst about his future. So I guess practice helps and that first flush of madness is love so deep we have to learn how to handle it. I feel sure you have done a wonderful job and Sierra will be a beautiful, loving, creative soul.

  2. The best you can do is shine a light with smiles and love and hope it all takes. My guess is you been doing that all along. Any kid who spends money on books is struttin along the right path.

  3. Time goes so quickly and they grow up before we know it. My babies are now 26, 23, and 18! 18! I can’t believe it most days. But it’s true.

    I think our kids know that we love them and how much we do. Even when we aren’t perfect parents, they still know we love them deeply. It doesn’t matter that we’re not perfect parents. In fact, it’s good that we’re not because by being imperfect we teach them that just as they love our imperfections, we will always love them and their imperfections, even if we don’t like them. They’ll learn to apply that kind of love for the imperfections of others throughout life and that’s important!

  4. I have been in a similar situation Am. But if she is buying books… something has been done right. Muchos belated birthday wishes to Sierra from The Deist.

    Big hugs!

    ~julian

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