Author Ruth Knox read this recently at a writing retreat.
At my request, she's allowed me to post it here as a guest blog.
My dearest daughter, I woke up today with thoughts of you, of your path through life, of what you've endured, what you've overcome, and last but not least, who you have become.
Your path, while unique, still bears the pattern I know so well from my own, a zigzag meandering back and forth, up and down, some nasty switchbacks along the way, and some mountains seeming impossible at the time, but you climbed them anyway. And here you are, probably not even halfway through your life's journey. Do you ever look back to see how far you've climbed?
You are living your deliciously imperfect life, in your own deliciously imperfect way. I have learned so much by watching you grow. From the moment I took all 4 pounds of you into my arms as you screamed your way into the world, I knew you were a force to be reckoned with. But really, I had no idea of the woman you would become.
As a child, you had no understanding of that shut-off valve most of us have that we use to censor our thoughts before they come out of our mouths. Other than the fibs you told to get yourself out of a jam, (and by the way, you were never any good at lying), you were the most honest person I had ever encountered. Now, you would think that would be a wonderful thing, but not always. Like the time when you sat on my lap running a hand over my face, and you piped up in a room full of guests, "Mom, why do you have a whisker on your chin?" Yeah. That's my girl!
And I may have been a tad wrong about that "bad at lying" thing, because I just remembered something. The phone call I got at work from the principal's office asking me to come in for a talk. It seems you thought your lunch looked pretty good so you decided to eat it on the way to school. Yes, you had already had breakfast at home. And when the teacher asked you where your lunch was, you told her that I didn't let you take lunch to school because we had no food at home. By the way, thanks for that. It was just as fun as when I was hauled into the principal's office as a kid.
You were, in a word, exasperating at times. I remember telling myself that the same things about you that drove me crazy, were the very characteristics you would need to keep you strong in a sometimes unkind world. You were also a delightful child in so many ways. Whenever I thought about you, I pictured a bright sunflower, face turned towards the sky, full of joy and expectation. And talk? You sure had the gift of the gab from the moment you could form words, so I am not surprised that you used it to carve niches in life that suited your temperament and fed your soul.
It still brings tears to my eyes when I recall those stormy teen years when you seemed so sullen and broken. Unreachable. Even when exhausted from caring for your sick father, I'd lay awake nights trying to figure out how to help you. It was like your light was not yet out, but flickering, and for once, you didn't have a lot to say. That scared me. You and I had come so far. I didn't want to fail you when you needed me most. It was the hardest storm we ever faced, and you taught me that sometimes what a girl needs is not something that her mother alone can give. Sometimes she needs space. And wings. Even if she's not sure how to use them yet.
And now, look at you. Effervescent as ever, full-time career, busy mom with three rambunctious teenagers, and sometimes five. Your house is full of noise, laughter, bickering kids, barking dogs, wedding plans...it's a place of happiness. And you made that happen. You, with your infectiously joyful spirit, your childlike sense of play, and your love of family. I couldn't be more proud of you, not just as a daughter, but as a strong woman and a beautiful spirit.
I'm glad you still call me when something wonderful happens that you want to share, when something challenging comes up and you need advice, or when something awful happens and you just want your mom.
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