“If you must hold yourself up to your children as an object lesson, hold yourself up as a warning and not as an example.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
On this day in 1969 I gave birth to my first child. I had just turned 18 a few days before and although I had managed pregnancy and birth quite well my first face-to-face with my beautiful daughter was daunting.
After counting toes and fingers and conducting all the perfunctory checks new mothers feel compelled to perform since no one’s word will do until perfection has been established for oneself, I knew I had to fess up, and straightaway.
Holding her closely, I gazed into her lovely, aware eyes and declared: I have no idea how to be a mother, will probably screw up miserably and often … but will do the very best I can.
I have frequently repeated a version of this that insists she has grown into the woman she is — successful, happy, secure, sensible, beautiful, smart, funny and so much more — not because of, but in spite of me.
She agrees with that in some fashion, deciding long ago not to follow in any of my staggering footsteps, but rather forge a determined path of her own, one that intentionally avoided the pits I toppled into, scrabbled over obstacles and built bridges rather than burned them.
Her efforts have been rewarded. She is amazing, and she is happy.
The gift I gave the world this day 42 years ago was a contribution significant enough to validate my existence, and is the gift that keeps on giving as her daughter carries it forward.
Happy birthday, Pooh.