When they told me in the delivery room, that we had a daughter, I was taken aback. Frankly, I guess I assumed you were a boy child. After all, I knew how to "do" boys - I grew up with all those brothers and then there was your almost two year old brother . I had experience with boys and just figured that was my destiny. Surprise! After I got over the shock of a baby girl, I began to consider this situation. I remember laying upstairs on the bed with you on a warm, sunny day when you were just two or three days old. I remember being flooded with that wonderful maternal emotion - the one that is in love with baby and with life, the one that knows that my life will never be the same now that this baby has entered it. I remember tracing my finger over your delicate hands and toes and looking into your soul through your eyes. Your eyes were beautiful and portended the incredible physical beauty you would carry always. There was an intimate connection that I sensed that I would never have with your brother. You were a girl child. You would need something different from me than he needed. You would see the world a little differently and I would need to show you how to be a strong woman in a world that can be difficult for strong women.
Now you are 22 years old. The work of raising you is over and I step back and observe the results. You were a bright (in every way) little girl. You made heads turn with your physical attractiveness and your sweet disposition. In the primary grades, you created wonderful art, listened intently to stories and wrote more than a few of your own. Middle school was the beginning of the tough years - the years when other girls were not always nice (and maybe you weren't nice too, I can't say). You always did your school work, though I wondered from time to time if the social world was more your world than the academic world. In this sense, your high school years were painful ones to watch. You seemed angry at teachers, at kids, at the world and you rarely left your room (or so it seemed). We worried about you. You said everything was okay. That summer after graduation was such a blender of emotions. You were scared and not ready to leave but you were also determined to go. Oh my! And that semester at Chico? Must have been agony and yet you stayed. You found strength and forced yourself to tough it out but when you came home in December, you were crushed. The spirit that had been so alive in your as a 5 year old was buried under fear, self blame, anger, confusion, disappointment and self disgust. No matter that we loved you and that we knew you would find your way again.... you could not be happy that spring.
But, in the way that life unfolds, you unfolded. Over the last three years, you have grown in every dimension. You have found a path at SSU. You have supported yourself via jobs and loans and you have assumed apartment or house rentals. You even bought yourself a truck. You have loved and lost men, and learned a ton about true friendships. Through it all, you have discovered more and more talents and you have continued to be a source of great pride for Michael and me.
I think back now on my apprehension about raising a daughter. I wanted a daughter who could be compassionate but not a push over. I wanted a daughter who would be open to learning and who could teach when the opportunity presented itself (which it does all the time). I wanted a daughter who would develop a mind of her own and who could articulate her thoughts. I wanted a daughter who could appreciate the beauty in herself and in the people and the world around her. I wanted you. And now I step back and admire the young woman you have become and I am so grateful to have you in my life.