Good Enough Mother doesn’t feel like she has aged at all over the last 14 years; in my head, rattling around with all of the other delusions, I am still 33 years old. But even if I can manage to make the mirror, peered at through cheesecloth in low light, lie to me, there is no denying the passage of time when I look at my daughter. My beautiful baby girl turns 14 today.
I hope this doesn’t embarrass her but if it does I hope she will forgive me. She, too, will know this feeling when she has a child of her own. So here goes, my open letter to Casey:
Is it possible 14 years have passed since the first time we met? Honestly, had I not been through 42 weeks of gestation and 18 hours of labor that culminated in a C-Section I might not believe it. See, you didn’t really look like my baby; you had light skin, almond shaped eyes and hair that was black as onyx and stick straight. “Oh my God, they brought me an Asian baby!” was my initial thought. And then I held you and knew then you were mine.
I marveled at your Betty Boop lips because they were a perfect heart shape. I was tickled that your eyebrows, so light as to be almost non-existent, gave you a perpetually surprised look. And those fingers, ah those fingers long and graceful. I envisioned a pianist. You chose guitar and are damn good at it.
Your gentle personality was evident early on. To this day, I do not understand how two children, from the same parents can be so different. Unlike your brother, you had an easy-going temperament, instinctively knew the difference between right and wrong and rarely tested those boundaries. You were and still are, quick to smile, the kind that just takes over your entire face, running from the corners of your mouth to your beautiful brown eyes. Holding you one afternoon, I remember my mother talking to me about being a mother. She said having a baby girl was like having a baby doll. Yep, the best doll.
But your physical attributes, long curly hair, Porcelain skin, model physique, are secondary to the beauty that shines from within (I know, I’m a dork but I can barely see the screen now through my tears now). You have an amazing heart. I see it everyday when you make friends with the new kid in the neighborhood or are truly distraught when your friends fight. Unlike me who’s quick to think and even quicker to act, you labor over your thoughts and words, understanding that once they leave your lips there is no taking them back, even the ones that hurt.
Casey, you may find this hard to believe but I have learned so much from you. I thought I knew what it meant to love unconditionally but as adults we carry baggage that sometimes clouds our hearts. But it was never that way with you and when you smiled at me or lay your head on my shoulder, I knew it never would be.
Years ago, you needed me to lift you into the car seat, hold your hand in a crowd, let you hide behind my skirt. Now when we hug you are as tall as I am and I have resigned myself to the fact that it’s just a matter of time before you outgrow me. The absolutely crazy thing is I can see a time when you will take care of me. It’s a comforting thought.
Please forgive me for the mistakes I made early on, the ones I will make today and the ones that are coming. You see, Casey, mommy is trying to do the very best by you. But there is no handbook that comes with parenting, though it would make this job much easier if there were. I am doing my best to usher you into adulthood. And I hope this doesn’t sound like too much of a pat on the back, so far it looks like I’m doing pretty well.
I want to leave you with this video by Christina Aguilera. From the moment I heard it, it reminded me of you. I love you baby girl. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!