Thursday, December 30, 2010

Birth-days and birthdays

On my daughters' birthdays, my sisters never fail to wish me a Happy Birth-day. The first time they did it, sixteen years ago, it took me a few minutes to understand that they were referring to the fact that it was the first anniversary of the day I had given birth.

Seventeen years ago today, I became a mother, and my husband became a father. Together, we went through eight hours of rather intense labour (I had another eight hours of contractions before that but tried to sleep through them because I didn't think they were the real thing). In late afternoon, we received a small bundle of joy who was whisked away from us rather quickly because there were some concerns about her breathing. Thankfully, it was nothing serious, mostly ironed out before the euphoria of giving birth had worn off.

While I had nine months to get used to the idea of being a parent, being constantly reminded of my forthcoming status by the pokes and prods within me, parenthood was thrust upon my husband quite suddenly. I must say he's handled it very well. He's a good dad, even though the illogical thinking of our girls has driven him a little bit crazy at times.

In the last seventeen years, we have seen our eldest grow beyond the inevitable milestones of many human lives: first "solid" food, first teeth, toilet training, first day of school, first missing tooth, first solo bike ride, first time getting lost, first sleepover, first sweetheart, and most recently, first solo drive to a friend's house.

It's been a real blessing to watch her (and her sisters) growing up. It's been a challenge at times to remember that she's her own person and needs freedom to unfold in her own particular fashion (there have been more than a few "fashion" disputes). She's a generous girl who never wants to say no to anyone or any opportunity, but she's slowly learning her limits. And though we have our times when mother and daughter seem to be engaged in internal eye-rolling contests over each others' weird behaviour, our relationship is a good one.

On New Year's Eve, seventeen years ago, the radio played the Judd's Love Can Build a Bridge as I sat in a hospital room nursing a newborn. I looked into that tiny face, overwhelmed with love and amazement, and prayed that the bridge between her heart and mine would be a good one. Today I thank God for hearing and answering that prayer. The road has its ups and downs, to be sure, but with God's grace, the bridge will hold. I suspect that, tonight at a birthday sing-song party at her grandparents' house, we'll sing the Judd's song, and I'll continue the prayer...

Happy Birthday, Christina!

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