May 10, 2015
(This is part of a 365 project during my 70th year where I write and illustrate a blog on each day's gift.)
I became a mother twice within one year. In 1980, I gave birth to my daughter Lauren and in 1981, I gained stepdaughter Jennifer (now FL) who was 8 1/2. Today, I don’t differentiate. They are both my daughters.
Navigating the landscape of relationships and balancing needs, we struggled to build the architecture of our new family. Life as a new mother then was full of uncertainty and self-doubt. Should I have said yes when I said no? Should I have said no when I said yes? Balance was always a challenge—when to allow them to make their own mistakes and when to protect them.
With their father working nights, I was the parent they saw most frequently and the one who cared for them at night. When I became a mother, I suddenly had to give up the freedom I knew before they arrived—the ability to spontaneously go for a ride on my motorcycle just because I felt like it, the freedom to be by myself. I became a better person because of this.
There were many valleys and hills in those days. Like when FL was caught in a lie, when she decided to call me Mom and the time she hid a message saying I love you in a puzzle box she gave to me. Like when Lauren told me she hated me, the first time she hugged me and said I love you, and when for her college essay about a hero she knew, she wrote about me.
I am not one of those females who is a natural mother. I didn’t play with dolls when I was little like my sisters did. I didn’t make a fuss over babies and beg to hold them. I didn’t have jobs as a babysitter. My jobs were teaching and playing the piano or organ. Raising two daughters was a steep learning curve for me and, like any mother, I can only hope that I didn’t mess up too badly. I believe they turned out to be extraordinary human beings and have taught me some very important things:
- Children will be who they are in spite of who their parents would want them to be—and this is a good thing.
- Over time, things that once were perceived as big things become little things—and vice-versa.
- Love is a paradox—the more you give away, the more you receive.
- Unconditional love is the greatest gift you can give your children and your children can give you.
And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
My gift today is love for and from my daughters.