Friday, May 21, 2010

Dear Daughter

Dear Catherine:

Today, my darling daughter, it is your 40th birthday.

I can not believe it has been forty years since I gave birth to you. I don’t feel forty years older! It seems like just yesterday that I danced under the light of the full moon (all 195 pounds of me), hoping that an old wives' tale was true. It must have been, because seven hours later you were born.

You know that I have always felt that the anniversary of your birth is more of a celebration for me than for you. It is a celebration of the day your father and I received the most precious gift in the universe; it is a celebration of love, it is a celebration of memories, it is celebration of what matters most in life.

On this day, as I celebrate your birth, my normally transitory memory has perfect recall on the joys and, sometimes, heartache that being your mother has given me.

I remember: an aspiring (but doomed) ballerina, a published writer, an eloquent public speaker, a budding actress, a political activist – and all before you were even twelve! It would take a book to chronicle your journey to adulthood. My participation in that journey has been a privilege. You are my heart.

Thank you, God, for her.

Thank you, Catherine, for you.



Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mother's Day, The Hard Way

This year both of my daughters were several thousand miles away on the that day I consider more important than Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving or any other occasion on which we celebrate the joy of family and togetherness. One daughter lives several thousand miles away and the other is on vacation.

This is the first Mother’s Day that I have not seen at least one of my daughters. While a telephone conversation is lovely, it’s not the same as a physical presence, the real closeness that affirms the celebration of motherhood – the joys, the heartache, the memories, the wonderful feeling of pride that comes from seeing your child mature into a happy, healthy adult.

My husband and I attended our community’s annual Mother’s Day Fly-in on Sunday, and I felt a huge void as I watched moms and grandmas glow with pride as they shared moments with their children and grandchildren.

I felt alienated from those happy moms. I wanted to shout – “I have children, I have grandchildren – they just couldn’t be here”. I imagined a hundred eyes on me, whispering, “poor lady, being at a Mother’s Day event and not having any children.” Up until this Mother’s Day, I never consciously felt the need to parade my motherhood, I never thought I needed affirmation about the wonderfulness of my mothering, and I don’t often brag about my children (out of respect for those whose children aren’t nearly as beautiful, talented or as smart as mine). This past Sunday, I was tested and failed miserably. I needed affirmation – I needed my children.

This Mother’s Day was a lonely day.