My oldest child is 15 today. Closing out her freshman year in high school. I still remember the day she was born, pretty vividly, even though it was my most calm, least anxious, birth regardless as to the fact that she was my first and I was just a wee 18. She was the kid that I did not know a thing at all about what I was doing. I was terrified and my relationship with her father was already starting to show signs of major strain (read: we were way too young to be playing house) and I just wanted to be normal and live a normal life- thus there was this immense pressure for this little nuclear family to figure it out – meanwhile we could barely keep the power on or gas in the car at that time. That said, despite all of that turmoil – she came out of it unscathed it seemed; a trait I myself wish I possessed more of.
…She was the most calm baby, she didn’t cry much, she did all the things – ate well, came out with an APGAR score of 10, and despite a teeny bit jaundice she was ultimately very healthy. She rarely threw fits, and just handled things differently than my two boys later did/do. She was ready to do ALL THE THINGS from the get-go. This child walked at 9 months and was full-on running by 10.5 months. She was eating solid foods early, she was just ready to take on the world and she wanted to be wildly independent with grace. The only thing this child did not do ‘first’ or ‘fast’ was teeth… she didn’t cut a single tooth until she was 10 months old. Oh well, cannot “win” them all.
Now I look back and wonder if I did everything right? What could I have done better for my only daughter? I feel like I have an enormous burden to bear in order to raise a strong, independent, young woman who goes out into the world and makes things happen for herself while also ensuring that things happen her for her female counterparts, too. Have I shown her what it means to be a feminist? Independent? How important it is to vote? Diversity is important; have I done enough to show her that? Humility? Have I taught her how to be compassionate, caring, kind to others? Generosity? Have I taught her that she has choices in life and she can go whatever road she chooses and that the possibilities are endless? Have I shown her that she has the option to have children or not? Have I shown her that if she chooses to have children – how to be a good mother? Do I show her relationships that are full of love, kindness, respect and compassion so that she too goes out into the world and finds the same? Have I taught her to be resilient?…knowledge-hungry? The value of a good education? To do something she loves for work? That no woman can be over-educated? Have I shown her that her body is her own and that nobody else gets to make decisions on what she does with it or how she dresses it? Have I taught her to create a ‘tribe’ of women whom she trusts and won’t break her down? Have I taught her the value of family and how important it is to one’s mental health to have a close relationship with family? Have I taught her a solid work ethic? Did I teach her how to eat right? Take care of herself? Respect herself?
I hope I am making the right decisions for her and pushing her in the right direction, but man those questions are overwhelming for a mom, specifically for me they are overwhelming. There is so much pressure as a mom to get it “right”. So far. I think we are doing OK.
Happy Birthday, Rhi. ❤
…Yes, her shirt says “Believe Women, We Will Actually Make America Great”. I got this as a gift but it was one size too small and I was going to return it – she asked if she could have it instead… That answers at least one or two of the questions above, I guess.