This time 25 years ago I was sound asleep with you in my arms, after 33 hours of labor. You were born at home, with a midwife, a couple of my friends, and your dad to help. She laid you on my stomach and you looked up at me, wide eyed. Everyone clapped, till the midwife told them to be quiet for your sake. For the first few moments your father and I had been afraid to touch you, you looked so fragile. I didn't realize how small you would be, even though at 8 and a half pounds, you were a pretty big newborn. The midwife had to coax your dad to pick you up and give you your first bath, then hand you gently back to me to nurse.
At the time we both believed that we would be perfect parents, that we would be able to give you an ideal childhood, free of the mistakes our parents made. We were as stupid as any young parent can be. Worse because we refused to believe anything anyone else told us. We thought we were smarter and better than anyone.
This morning I couldn't help flogging myself remembering that Green Day song, Time of Your Life. In my blind arrogance I really thought I could give you that. Now I look back and I can't think of a time after you were 10 that I could credit myself with giving you anything like a happy childhood. No matter how I tried it turned out painful and wrong. Like the year your birthday fell on Mother's day, and I called you in Michigan that Friday, in case you were leaving town-- I didn't want to miss your birthday call. Then on Sunday you called to wish me happy Mothers day and chewed me out for not remembering your birthday. I started feeling as if there were nothing I could do that wouldn't hurt you, no matter what choices I made. I don't know how conscious you were that you were always looking for reasons to be angry at me. I don't think you understood what had been done to you to make you look at me that way, always looking for the flaw, the proof that I somehow didn't love you, that I couldn't be trusted.
And now I realize that your distrust of me was a mirror of my distrust of the world. We each labored behind our own warped glass, unaware that were weren't seeing things as they were, or as we wished them to be, we only saw through the filter of our fear and ignorance. In my case, everything your father said made sense because it fit my fears and foolishness. In yours, you were too young to know any better, and I didn't know how to reach out to you past what you were brainwashed into believing.
There should have been time for us to work through all this. There should have been decades and second and third chances.
The minor victories weren't enough. I'm sorry.