My daughter turns 25 today. My only daughter. My first born. I was seventeen when I had her and I was a total fucking mess. It took me until I was about 7 months pregnant to decide for sure that I was going to keep her. I was scared shitless and didn’t think I had the sense God gave a nickel to be a mother. I certainly never thought of myself as a mother. Growing up, when my sister was babysitting and thinking about how many kids she would have, I was standing over on the island of the childless. I never entertained the idea of children. I wanted to travel the world and be a Rockette.
But as she grew inside me and I felt her moving around, as I listened to her little heartbeat that sounded like a thousand tiny horses running a race in my belly, I fell in love with her. And I knew that even if I wasn’t able to give her everything a kid might want, there wasn’t anybody in the world who could love her like I could.
And when she was born, she didn’t look at all like the alien baby on the sonograms. She was gorgeous. And she was my little alien baby. And all I wanted to do was to not fuck up. So I read every book I could get my hands on. Tried every tip that the experts recommended. Learned by trial and error. Mostly error.
When she started school, it was a bittersweet moment for me. I was sad because she was growing up, but I was relieved because, at that point, there would be other people semi-responsible for not fucking her up too.
And she grew and she was happy and funny and strong-willed and I prayed every day she would stay that way. I didn’t want her to be like me and want to please all the people all the time.
And she was caring and generous. She was responsible and hardworking.
I don’t think anyone knows (well, until now) that my daughter has bought every single piece of school clothing for Mel, my 16-year-old, since the day she turned 16 and got a job. She makes sure he has clothes, shoes, school pictures. Anything he needs or wants, she has always been there for him. A task that most kids wouldn’t bother taking on. She’s been doing for the last 9 years. And she never mentions it. She never brings up how much money she has spent on him. She never expects anything in return.
And to this day, she is still happy and funny and strong-willed and she doesn’t take shit from anyone. And I honestly don’t know how that happened. I would love to take credit for it and tell the world that I am an absolutely amazing mother and I should have had 70 kids because I’m so great at it. But really, I think a lot of who she is formed by trying to do better than I could do for her. And I probably don’t tell her enough how proud I am of her, but hopefully, she knows. Or she does now…
Sure if I could go back there are probably a million things I would change in my life, but one thing I wouldn’t change would be her.
And, if you know a young mom (or are a young mom) who doesn’t think she can do it. Or one who is doing it but is stressed out, remind her that one day, she will be celebrating her baby’s 25th birthday wondering where the time went.
And go ahead and tell her she’s doing fine. Kids are resilient. And even when we think we are fucking them up, somehow they turn out to be amazing human beings that make us so proud we think our hearts might bust.
Happy Birthday, Favorite Daughter!