As I said when I wrote about my son on his birthday, "I look at birthdays as a good time for memories, because when your children are adults and they live far away, your memories are mostly what you have."
"These are mine."
When our daughter entered the family Hubby and I were newly married (nine months exactly), and I already had a son from a previous marriage.
(If you want to get caught up, see my blog post "My Son)."
Unlike my son who arrived right on time (I worked the day he was born), my daughter was two weeks late, so I was able to take some time off before she was born. When the time finally came, once again it was a long labor. I decided then and there, I wasn't very good at this giving birth thing and I wasn't going to do it anymore.
When she was born, she settled nicely into the family.
As with my son, I was able to spend two months with her before having to head back to work as a librarian. Two whole months! Geez. Barely figured out how to breast feed by then. In those days, not many allowances were made for women who chose to have children. I liked my career, but because of money issues it never really occurred to me that I could stay home.
As she began to talk, one of our favorite, though embarrassing memories was her inability to articulate hard consonants. T's would sound like "F's." She would see a truck and yell "F--," well, you get it.
Where our son was a more quiet, introspective child, our daughter was already gregarious and funny. Our son would go to the park and hang back from groups of kids until he had figured out the best way to interact. But our daughter would not only barge in head first but would soon be calling the shots. "I'll be the engineer of this train, you can be the conductor. And do you want to be my best friend?"
She also always had a mind of her own. When I took her to get her picture taken, she wanted to wear a little plastic bracelet someone had given her. I said no and off we went to the photo studio.
Look at her wrist in this picture!
I loved my son dearly but he was all boy in his interests - sports, sports and more sports. I was happy to have a little girl to spoil and dress and shop and watch musical comedies with. She also could sing and developed an interest in acting, something I had enjoyed. At the age of seven she played Molly, the littlest orphan, in a professional production of "Annie" and went on to star in all of the school musicals, many local professional productions and college plays ("West Side Story," "Little Shop of Horrors," "Sound of Music," Into the Woods").
She was funny, original and unselfconscious.
She was smart and did well in school. She was a kind girl who enjoyed her family. We played games on Family Night, enjoyed fine dining, shopped and traveled. There were no drugs or alcohol incidents. She got involved with a boy too early for our liking and suffered from body image issues as many teenage girls do, but all in all, she was happy, successful and made us proud.
One summer during middle school she cried to me that she thought she didn't like how she looked, and felt terrible that she had braces and wore glasses. I tried to tell her she was beautiful and would grow more beautiful and look like this one day.
And then it just went so fast from there.
After middle school, where she graduated with honors, she graduated from high school with honors and went on to Stanford University.
After college, she worked in publishing in San Francisco before meeting her husband to be. They were married in our garden before she was whisked off to the East Coast where her husband was completing his Ph.d.
She is a singer/songwriter and sang with her Dad in his bands over the years.
And like her Mom, she's a librarian!
She has recently graduated with a Master's Degree in Library Science from the University of Washington and is now an Information Delivery Services Librarian/Manager at a university on the East Coast.
Two generations of librarians.
Mother and daughter.
Old generation librarian.
New generation librarian.
(I wrote about this "passing of the baton" on a blog post).
Someone said the mother daughter relationship is the most complex of relationships. No one is willing to own up to saying that, I guess, because it's credited to "Anonymous."
That could be a true statement, but no mother is thinking that the day her little baby girl is born.
And no mother is thinking about the baggage she herself brings to the show.
All you are thinking about is how you can't wait to share with her everything you have learned.
You want to see her go off in life and succeed and be her own woman. But you also wish she would take with her some of what you shared with her, such as what you value, a love of musicals, how to dry wine glasses or whatever it may be. You wish she would call every day and ask your advice. But if she doesn't do that, you wonder what happened. Could it possibly be that she doesn't want to be you?
No, she wants to be herself. And when she finds who that is, she will find you again one day.
But as her mother, whether she likes it or not, she will always be my baby girl.
Happy Birthday, my baby girl!
― Adrienne Rich, Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution
Thanks for Reading!
See you Friday
for my review of the new movie
"Fifty Shades of Grey,"
The Week in Reviews,
as well as my progress on
"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project."
"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project."
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