You were the only one of my children who was “planned”. I wanted to have two children- well, your dad and I had always talked about three or four but I knew I didn’t want to only have one. I felt and feel only children are spoiled and have way too much attention. I was very convinced your sister was going to be a girl but never had a solid idea of your gender. To be truthful, I was a little scared of having two girls because I knew that sisters have a different relationship to each other and to their mother. I could try to kid myself that the reason yours and my relationship went awry was because of this dynamic, but that would be to lie about all the really wrong things that did happen during your growing up and I am determined not to lie to myself or you anymore (whether intentionally or unintentionally)
You didn’t come with all the drama that accompanied my previous pregnancy and it was nice to feel more relaxed about it. (Well, as relaxed as I ever am which to be honest, is difficult for me sometimes. Too much of my life was feeling guilty about… well, you name it. I felt guilty for nearly everything!) At any rate, I was excited about having a new baby. Excited about you.
I went into labor on Tuesday and on Wednesday I went to the hospital convinced you were going to be born soon only to have the doctor send me home. By the time I got back to the hospital on Thursday, I was determined I was not going to be sent home again. In fact, when the doctor said I was not in full blown labor yet, I said “I’m not going home. This baby is going to be born today.” He shrugged (probably accustomed to cranky women in labor) and said “You can walk around for a bit but it could be several days before you dilate enough to be admitted into the hospital to deliver.”
Your dad and I walked up and down the halls for perhaps an hour, maybe two. Perhaps you knew I was tired and you were ready too to be born. Or perhaps the shear determination I felt that I wasn’t going to go through another day of labor brought events to a head. Whatever the case may be, I didn’t walk too terribly long before I was ready to have the doctor check again.
The doctor, on the other hand, was not convinced that I knew what I was talking about. He half-heartedly checked me again, all set to tell me to just go home and rest. His eyes widened a bit and he said, “Well, you’re dilated to a four. You are going to have this baby!!” (It actually seems like he said “seven” but that seems like a labor induced exaggeration so I am modifying to reflect what is more likely the truth).
From there, things happened pretty quickly. I wanted to have an epidural (they are lovely drugs!) which I didn’t get until I was pretty far along. In fact it seems like it was around 11 before the anesthesiologist got his butt in gear to get to me. By the time the pain killer kicked in, I was ready to push. Your nanny was in the delivery room and of course you have the heard the story of her dumb pronouncement “You have your boy!” I don’t really remember why she was there, frankly. I think she just wanted to be and neither your dad nor I had the courage to tell her that she needed to do what other grandparents (including your nanna) did- wait in the waiting room.
And that all happened 19 years ago! My how time flies!!!
Most of what I long for you to hear, you would not, do not listen to. I have many things that I would like you to know– how to have a HAPPY life,
not just surviving…
not just getting by…
not just having a nice car or a big house…
Life is about far more than that.
Your birthday is your day to reflect on who you are- on what the past year brought you or took away, on what you gained and what you lost. (It really takes more than one day for most of us- we could probably all use more like a month) It is good to reflect, because when we reflect we can weight the things that are truly good and those things that we need to set aside. At nineteen, you are so fortunate that you have so much time ahead of you to create a good life for yourself.
And you truly can create a good life for yourself if can extract yourself from the muck you’ve inherited. Religion is not going to have any answers for you and it is not going to give you any direction. That’s the erroneous shit that you inherited from me.
You have inside you the potentially fatal problem of loving people who have no right to your love and loyalty- this is probably also something you inherited from me. Part of growing up is choosing to have people in your life people who support you but DON’T always give you what you want just because you want it. Part of growing up is learning to take care of yourself and not loving indiscriminately. You aren’t going to save them and they are going to leave you eventually anyway. And, importantly, it does not make you a better person to love people who abuse you.
Selfishness is not going to take you anywhere— in fact it will ruin any potential for you to have a loving and lasting relationship with anyone who truly loves you. That’s the erroneous (and dangerous) lesson you learned from your father. You have to learn to make decisions that are best for you in the long run. You are not a baby anymore who has an empty stomach that needs to be filled right now! And one day, when you do find someone, you will have to learn how to think about what is best for him. Your needs can’t be the only ones that are considered.
Take the time on your birthday to reflect. It’s been a difficult couple of months and it will continue to be difficult if you don’t find a way to make better choices for yourself in the long run. But if want to have a good life– and really, it’s ridiculous to tell yourself you don’t want to have a good life– you take responsibility for your life. Don’t wait around for someone to give it to you or to save you. It’s all there in front of you–
I love you and want the best for you! Happy Birthday!