I was at my parent’s house last night for a short while to celebrate my sister’s birthday. My daughter arrived late, coming directly from work, and as the back door opened, I noticed the magnificently beautiful perfect faces of my granddaughters literally light up as they heard the door knob, and the both cried out joyfully, “Mommy!!!” and jumped off their chairs into her arms…that she had only been away from them since 3:20 that afternoon when she left for work, and it was not yet dark, made me laugh that they greeted her with enthusiasm as if she had been gone for days and I thought to myself, I raised a child into a woman good enough and wonderful enough and kind enough and lovely enough, to be loved, THAT much.
It was a good feeling, that this, THIS human being, this woman who was standing in front of me who sometimes still, as in her teens, rolls her eyes annoyed at me, who sometimes still mutters under her breath annoyed at me, and who sometimes still sighs exhaustively annoyed at me, is the best thing that I ever did…I loved and nurtured and tried my very hardest to be a good mother in a, for the most part, and certainly for the first several years, bad situation, and despite my youth, inexperience, lack of money and lack of a good or dependable or kind or hardworking partner for the first few years of her life, I guess to be clear, any of her life, she turned out just fine.
I did not do this alone; I moved back into my parent’s house and back into my old bedroom, divorced and uncertain about EVERYTHING before she was much more than two. My parents and my sister are equally responsible, perhaps even more so, for this beautiful person…I worked full-time and went to college at night and on my days off for years…my family did a lot of babysitting and even after I moved out into a home of my own a couple years later, and I was still working full-time and still going to college at night and on my days off, they were still who I depended on for help. It does, as Hillary wrote, take a village…
As I stood last night in my parent’s charming kitchen in their charming house I took notice of my sister and my mom and my dad, and thought, these are the people who more often than not bathed my daughter, read to my daughter, and wished her sweet dreams and a good night’s sleep when I was at school, who spent every weekend caring for her and playing with her while I was at work. They are the people equally responsible for creating the beautiful woman who stood before us. I looked at my daughter’s husband, who took her away from me when she was only 18 and hit the road to North Carolina with her only weeks after she graduated from high school. I was in a room full of people who love my daughter.
I am not fond of country music, but it is what my parents love and so mostly what was playing in our home growing up and in their home today. As I looked at my daughter squeezing her daughters and laughing last night while saying, “Geez, I’ve only been gone three hours!” I thought, I loved her first…sure it’s a country song, narrated and sung by a father as he watches his daughter get married, and it is, as so many good country songs are, a tear-jerker when you listen to the lyrics, but I was thinking about how good it felt in my heart, for me, that they have her, who came from me, and that they adore her so much.
It was nothing but a “blip” in time, but I will remember it, particularly in eight or so years when they are telling me how their mother does not understand them, how she does not get them, how she must not love them because she won’t let them do…[ fill in the blank ] The day will come, it always comes when teenage girls are involved…I remember when mine was a teenager and thinking to myself, how can I love this person so much and dislike her so much at the very same time??!! I know my mother must have felt this when I was going through my hellish years and surely my daughter will feel this in the future…but I will remember last night’s moment, their eyes lighting up even brighter than they usually are and their joyful grins and the squeal of happiness in their voices as they jumped out their seats and into her arms, and I will tell them when they are teenagers, when they complain to me about how awful she is and how she is ruining their lives and, oh I just remember the drama & angst still so well…the door slamming, the I hate yous, the whys, the I wish you were like so and so’s Mom…I will say to them, “I loved her first, and you will, I promise, love her again one day, and believe me, she does understand you, she does get you, and more than anything she does love you.”