This piece is very special to me, and so is this day. Today is my kid’s birthday, and a glorious day it was. I won’t bore you with the labor and delivery details; as a friend pointed out to me recently, “Labor stories are women’s versions of the walking to school stories old men tell. ‘When I was a boy, I had to walk seventeen miles uphill both ways in the snow during the summer just to get to school . . .'” and he might have a point. Like, the point of my foot up his ass. Regardless, this piece is special not only because of the subject matter, but because it was the first piece I ever sold. For money. To Sasee Magazine in their February/March 2004 issue. I still have the copy and I still have the check stub.
It was the beginning, but far from the end.
Happy birthday, Donna. You have been a gift to me and many people in more ways than you could ever count. Love you.
Off She Goes
My daughter is getting ready to go to college. How did that happen? The last thing I knew she was three years old with pigtails and rosy cheeks. When I wasn’t looking she turned into a poised young woman. I’m not even a poised young woman! Ok, I’m not young anymore and I must have missed the poised thing completely. You know what I mean.
I just can’t understand how the baby I gave birth to 18 years ago has turned into an adult whom I admire and respect. I want to be my daughter when I grow up. When people meet her and tell me what a good job I’ve done, I feel I cannot take the credit. If she is a good person it is because of her intrinsic values, not because of anything I did. The mistakes are mine; the successes are hers and hers alone.
It is not an easy world out there and very different from the one in which I was raised. She has managed to grow up with grace and dignity and with her values and morals intact. I am amazed!
She is a very special person and somehow over the last year she has become my best friend. Instead of looking at her as a child, I have come to know her as a person in her own right. That is hard to do when I have changed her diapers and wiped her nose; cut up her meat; washed the mashed peas out of her hair; rescued her from her brother and prevented her from killing her sister. That was not the hard part.
The hard part was watching her mourn when her cat Leo died; hearing her cry over disappointments and heartaches from people who professed to love her; watching her struggle against tremendous odds to do well in school for her own sake and no one else’s. The hard part was trying to explain why people are cruel and hurtful and where Leo went when he passed away. The hard part was wanting to take her pain upon myself and knowing that even if I could, it would be unfair. The only way we learn and grow and become better people is through the good and the bad. She has not only learned this but she has taught me much as well.
She has taught me that hope springs eternal in the goodness of people and not to lose hope. She has taught me a sense of humor is the best defense. She has taught me I do indeed have something to offer this world and that my life has not been in vain. That in spite of my mistakes, in spite of the hardships we have endured as a family, in spite of pain and suffering and struggling and disillusionment, cynicism is for the foolish and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I look at her and see that light shining brightly.
I will miss her but she is entering a challenging and stimulating time in her life. She has an opportunity I did not have and I am happy beyond words to know I have afforded her that chance to expand and grow into her full potential. She is my investment into the world, my hope, and my gift.
She is the reason I was born.
I will miss her belly laugh when we watch America’s Home Videos. I will miss her astute observations about people and life. I will miss her mature opinions about the world’s affairs and her unique view of this planet. She doesn’t leave until August and already I am crying and feeling sorry for myself. After all, I put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this person and I know I am losing a part of her forever. There will be a big hole when she leaves, and I am being left behind as she moves forward, which is only right and natural. I am happy for her and heartbroken for me.
So off she goes with her Palm Pilot, her hopes, dreams, aspirations and goals. She takes with her that light but she leaves it with me too, and in doing so, it shines all the brighter. She takes with her a sense of humor, integrity and determination. She also takes a piece of my heart, and I am sure, my nagging voice in her ear.
Some things are too good to leave behind.