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.