Three months ago today my daughter became a new wife, with a joyful and beautiful ceremony in a restored barn at a County Park. One year and three months ago today my daughter became a fiancée, with a brilliant and big diamond in front of the fountain at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. 31 years and three hours ago I became a mother, to this daughter, with a quiet delivery in the early morning hours of a Thursday, in a room with ugly rose-covered pale blue wallpaper, with my Sister by my side and my Mom, Aunt, and Nana down the hall…and my life was forever changed.
And she was, at once, nothing that I ever wanted and all that I could ever wish for. And she was, with her first breaths, everything that was right in my world and the reason I suddenly cared so much about all the things that were so very wrong. And she was the biggest baby with the roundest head in the nursery, while I was the youngest mother with the most uncertain future on the maternity floor. And she was a dream baby who ate and slept and hardly ever cried, while I ate too much and hardly slept and often cried. To write that my first weeks and months as a mother were scary is an understatement. You see, my life was a whole big mess of awful, but I, inexplicably, did not want to have to move back home to my parents’ so I lied, a lot, about everything…everything is fine, everything is fine, everything is fine…nothing was fine, nothing at all was at all fine, but she was. That perfect little baby, through no fault of her own, came into this world with a confused mother who had made terrible choices, but there she was, by my side, often in the crook of my left arm, accepting, all ten pounds of her, the consequences of my decisions.
And she was a girl who grew up without a dad, and for that I have yet to forgive myself. And she was a girl whose grandpa could not have loved her any more than if she had been his own, and for that I will forever be grateful. And she was a girl whose grandma could not have loved her any more, no matter how disappointed she might have been with me, over and over and over…I disappointed my parents but my child never suffered, and truth be told, neither did I, since my parent’s love was always, and has always been, without conditions. And she was blessed to be born to a family where, despite our frequent and perpetual disagreements about most things, love always wins.
I found the courage to get out of a very bad and terribly difficult situation, and my family welcomed me back home with overflowing adoration for my daughter. And she was the reason I often worked seven days a week. And she was the reason I never called in sick. And she was the reason I started college. And she was the reason I finished college. And she was why I tried to always be the best possible woman I could, because while it’s a popular sentiment now in our current political climate, it moved me deeply from the moment I first read it, Strong Women- may we know them , may we be them, may we raise them. And she was fine. And she is fine. And it turns out that she is now, as a grown woman and a mother and a wife, a culmination of all that I ever did right in my life. There are many things that have happened to me, and because of me, that I wish had not ever happened, but these 31 years later, I love to say that she isn’t one of them. And she was, at once, nothing that I ever wanted and most of what would matter, for all the rest of my days…