September 11th, 2001, is a significant day. And its 5th anniversary is about to happen. For most people it is a day they will never forget, and for a good reason. That image of the towers coming down were horrific and will forever be in the minds of those who witnessed it. But September 11th, 2001 was a day that was significant for me for another reason: It was also the day I first laid eyes on my new baby girl. I am about to go all Dooce-tryhard on you Mina, but writing in the first/second person seems like the right thing to do. Hopefully when you Google your mum from your brain you will come across this post, in amongst all the interweb wars, trolling and defamation that I will no doubt accumulate in my lifetime.
Although you were born 15 minutes before midnight the night before, I didn’t see you. I was unconscious for some time after your birth, and you had temperature problems. I was hazy and really wasn’t with it for a few days, but I remember seeing my beautiful little girl, in the humidicrib, with raven hair, intense eyes and my nose and frown. I remember your Dad sticking his little finger in your mouth because I couldn’t be there, and I remember all the heartbreak and agony I went through just to have you.
Its funny how now, when I think about how far we’ve come, so many things seemed petty and pointless worrying about. For your entire first year, I was depressed and traumatised, because I obsessed about how I had nearly lost you during your birth, how I had failed you by needing a caesarian, how I had “poisoned” you by not breastfeeding you for more than 2 days. How I often left you to just play on the floor whilst I got some study done — how I never spent enough one-on-one time with you because I had a thesis due. And for swearing at you under my breath when you woke me up for the third time in a night.
I also worried about things that seem so silly now. You’ve seen your brother — he’s lucky to get a second set of clothes in a day! I worried about the clothes you wore, I had imaginary, one-sided wars with your Grandma and Pop over the silliest of things (despite them just wanting to help), and I worried about the food you ate and the milestones you met. I thought that all of that, if done correctly, would make you a perfect person. I got into battles with psychotic internet mothers because, well I still have no idea why. I am sure that as you get older you’ll be able to understand how I manage to rub people up the wrong way.
But, as it turns out, noone is perfect and I am far from it. And as you get older you will see this more and more. There were occasions when I was selfish, fed you bad food, spoiled you, and even dared to give you a bottle. And, funnily enough, it also turns out that you were more resilient than I gave you credit for. Somewhere along the line I have done something right, for you are incredible. You love me, and I love you. And you seem to forgive me for all the crappy things I do, like sleeping in and then yelling at you to hurry up because we’re late, or buying you purple socks instead of pink. And it doesn’t seem to matter to you that I am flawed, grumpy, impatient and scatty, because at the moment, you seem to take great delight in telling me I am beautiful, or that I am a great artist, or that I am a good mum.
You also seem to forgive me for wanting to drag the family everywhere from Esperance to Los Angeles in search of my dreams, and forgive me for being one of those parents that doesn’t go to the daycare AGM and family concert. I try to remember, I really do, but you know what? I forget. Lame excuse I know. And I will apologise in advance for not being a P&C (PTA) mum, or a canteen volunteer. But hey, if you ever need help with your social studies, music or artwork there I am.
There is also something else that perplexes me, and that is your love of all things pink and girly. I honestly have no idea where you got this pure girl stuff from. I was a bookworm of a kid — devouring literature like a little Matilda. I didn’t really like dolls and princesses and whatnot. And, as I got older I decided I was a feminist and hated Barbie and Disney. When I found out you were a girl, I consciously didn’t buy Barbie, Disney or anything that perpetuated negative female stereotypes. You wouldn’t know it now — your room is filled with Disney Princesses, Barbies, dolls, and pink EVERYTHING. Because somewhere along the line you taught me that gender equality is not about enforcing a particular viewpoint on someone, it is about allowing children to play with whatever they want to play with. Its funny because your brother seems to be the same — pure boy — although he also loves your dolls.
And I have even started enjoying the fairy dresses and tiaras and stuff. And even when you dont have something you make one out of paper, or some other inanimate object. So go for it 🙂 You have taught me that you can be smart, pure girl and pure rock.
Words just can’t explain how it feels to have your baby girl grow up. You make me laugh like I have never laughed before. You challenge me in ways that I never expected a young child to challenge me. You make me feel surges of love that I never thought were possible. You make me feel so proud in ways that I cannot describe. And you make me love and appreciate the colour pink in a way I never have before.
So Mina, my baby girl, Happy Birthday. I love you, Mum. xox.