My firstborn turned 11 today. I have worried since the moment she belatedly arrived that I would screw her up.
Maybe it’s that she was my first, and I was a hesitant new mother, and she was a difficult baby, and our work/life circumstances were in turmoil, and nobody ever told me how much those first three months can suck the life out of you, but I had never before felt such an awesome responsibility and never before feared so much that I wasn’t up to the task. (And I worked with nukes at the Pentagon as a lieutenant, just for some perspective.)
Even now that I’m no longer hesitant, and she’s almost never difficult, and our work/life circumstances are manageable, and I’ve got more life in me now than ever before, I still feel an awesome responsibility to nurture and preserve all of the incredible goodness in her, and to be worthy of being her mother.
She’s so kind and thoughtful and good-natured and open, and I don’t ever want anybody to convince her that her ideas are silly or that her concerns are ill-founded or that her dreams are impractical.
I can’t shield her entirely from adversity, and I’m quite insistent that she learn to take responsibility for herself and practice being an adult. What worries me, paradoxically it seems, is how well she copes with life’s knocks, how cheerfully she accepts (and even asks for) responsibility, how maturely she comports herself. Of course I’m concerned for the well-being of all three of my children, but Tacy is often so adult that I fear I won’t give her what she needs because it doesn’t seem as if she needs anything.
So I make a point to let her know how much I appreciate all that she does and who she is, that I notice her incredible goodness and don’t take it for granted, that I recognize and celebrate her as an individual with interests and ideas and goals of her own.
I’m so very proud of her, but more importantly, I hope that she’s proud of herself. She has every reason to be.