The day I discovered I was pregnant with my first child I became a mother. There was no ambivalence; this was something I had wanted desperately and had agonized over in prayer for years. I wanted a baby.
Several months into my pregnancy, my obstetrician scheduled an ultrasound. It was then that the technician pronounced my child a girl. My ears heard the word girl; my heart heard the word daughter. Suddenly the living thing inside me was no longer a baby; this wonderful creation of God was my daughter.
In my mind, my child was never a fetus. Oh no, my child was always a person I would have the pleasure of knowing and loving. Love for this wonderful being was growing within me steadily, day by day. It grew even stronger with those first few fluttery feelings as I began to feel her movements inside of me.
During my pregnancy, I would summon up images of this daughter-to-be. I couldn’t quite picture a newborn or even an infant. The first images my mind created were of a six-year-old girl that looked amazingly like me. In my daydreams, my daughter wore a sweetly feminine Sunday dress, a pair of my high heels, a pair of my white gloves, and my Easter hat. Why? Because my mother has a picture of me at about that age wearing a similar outfit.
The next age my mind could conceive was twelve. At this age, my daughter shares her secrets with me. At this age, my daughter still thinks of me as her best friend. At this age, she is still innocent… some of the time. She is still dressed in a sweetly feminine Sunday dress.
In my dreams I couldn’t fathom a grown daughter or a daughter who had children of her own. It was as if my daughter was stuck in my consciousness as either a six-year-old or a twelve-year-old. Then the day arrived that she was born into this world a living, breathing human being, not some figment of my fertile imagination.
Until the day she was born, I thought I knew love. Then the doctor placed this tiny baby on my stomach. I was too scared to move, afraid that somehow my movements would cause the helpless little thing to fall off of me and slide onto the floor below my bed. With trembling hands, I touched my daughter for the first time. I had only thought I knew maternal love. At that moment, such a burst of love overwhelmed me that I cannot describe in mere words.
I never took a picture of my six-year-old daughter dressed in a Sunday dress in my high heels, wearing my gloves and hat. I don’t own an Easter hat or a pair of white gloves. There is a picture of a three-year-old girl in the hallway. She’s dressed in a blue and white Sunday dress, wearing an Easter hat, a matching handbag, and black patent leather shoes. In my bedroom, hangs a picture of an eleven-year-old girl in a cap and gown. And now this year, she’ll graduate from high school.
Is my daughter all that I dreamed she would be? Oh yes, she’s all of that and so much more. Does she tell me her secrets? I think maybe she does… most of the time. Is she innocent? I think she is… most of the time. Are we friends? We are as much friends as a mother and daughter can be. There is a fine line between friendship and parenting. I have found this to be a fundamental truth of being a girl’s mother.
When my sweet daughter was three months old, I set about learning everything I could about being a good mother. What if I wasn’t doing something right? What if I was scarring her for life? What if there was something vital I should be doing for her that I was somehow overlooking? Was I being a good mother? Could I be?
I researched the subject, reading everything I could find about mothering. Some of it was useful; some of it isn’t worth mentioning. After all my study, I came to one fundamental conclusion about the mother-daughter relationship and the vitally important task of mothering. I realized that I needed to be the kind of woman I want my daughter to grow up to be. That realization hit me hard; because I knew I wasn’t, and I wasn’t sure I could be. Nothing in my life has ever shaken me to the core of my being like that one particular revelation did.
Am I everything I hope my daughter to grow up to be? No. I cannot say that. But I must be doing something right because my sweet daughter tries to emulate her mother, and when she does I am very proud of her. Thankfully, she is reflecting my good qualities and not my bad.
What are my daydreams for her now? Only that she grows up to be a godly woman, nothing more, nothing less. Do I want more for her than I have? I don’t know. I look at my life and I’m content. I guess that’s what I want for her more than anything, to be content with what God gives her in her life. God certainly did well by me when he gave me her.
(c) Denise Moncrief 2011