Our daughter turned 18 on Friday. Since Wednesday I’ve spend a lot of time staring at a photo that shows my husband and me two days before her birth. It’s a beautiful picture. Sunny, blue sky and we both are smiling into the camera, I am slightly turned sideways showing off my big belly.
I can’t believe where the time has gone. I can’t believe that the beautiful young woman we took out on Friday evening was once my baby. Only yesterday, so it seems. And I can’t believe that I am 18 years older. I still feel the same.
That’s what I want to say. But it’s not true. I don’t feel the same, nor am I the same. And I am pleased I am not.
Although I wanted to have a baby, when my daughter was born I struggled for two years to embrace motherhood. I couldn’t make a connection either to my daughter or to the mother inside me. I eventually became quite desperate. In one sense, though, my daughter was lucky. When my husband held his new-born baby for the first time in his arms, he was amazed she didn’t cry. It was at that moment that he fell in love with her and rose to the challenge of being a father. And it was he who held her emotionally in the first couple of years.
I was lucky too. Because he gave me the time and space to work on myself. And since then I’ve learnt a lot about myself. I’ve also learnt to become the woman and mother I wanted to be.
If I had stayed the same person I was 18 years ago, I would not be able to run Peirene. I could not have written Magda. I would not have taken out for supper an impressive person – a beautiful young woman – my own daughter.
It has been a privilege to bring her up. I am so delighted to know her. And I am excited to watch her find her own way over the next 18 years. I am a lucky woman.
Image by GlasgowAmateur.