Friday, February 27, 2009

Birthday Blessings...and Boastings

Today is my daughter's birthday. It's hard to believe that she is 31 years old, but then it's hard to believe that I'm 56, too. (Some days I feel younger...other days, considerably older!) 

Interesting. My mother and I are separated in age by 25 years just like Karin and I are. So Mom bore me at the same age I bore Karin. (I always laugh at the verb "bore" used in the past tense with regard to childbirth, which is definitely anything but a boring process. However, it is one that, while it must be borne, can be hard to bear...even though it bears great fruit!)

But, be that as it may (cough, cough), back to Karin. My daughter. The one who greeted the world 31 years ago today. She was a bit tricky right at first in that she cried six to eight hours (non-stop) every night for about four months. After that colicky start, however, she became a wonderfully happy but feisty baby. And daring, incredibly daring, bordering on foolhardy. (Okay, it WAS foolhardy, but this is her birthday, right? I'll stick with "daring.") In fact, she scared me to death! Being her mom was nothing short of a gut check, and I'll give you some examples why. 

At the age of eight months, she perfected the art of flipping herself out of her crib. That's right, "flipping." She didn't climb out; she would just throw herself out, landing limbs akimbo on the floor. Needless to say, this made me sleep a little less well. In fact, until my mom figured out the perfect solution (thanks, Mom!), I slept on the ground next to Karin's crib for a few nights. 

When she was barely ten months old, I found her one day standing on top of my refrigerator. I still have no idea whatsoever how she got up there, but I remember advancing upon her ever-so-slowly, speaking in dulcet, calming tones so as not to startle her until I could get close enough to whisk her away which time my tone of voice changed considerably while I "explained" to her that being on top of the refrigerator was something she should avoid in the future.

She ate and drank anything she could get her hands on, and I'm not talking about food here. She ate soap and toothpaste, drank perfume and shampoo...Let's just say that the Poison Control Center recognized my voice! Seriously, I had to watch her every second. She would run like a lunatic straight into the ocean with a crazed gleam in her eye...RUN, mind you, at top far in as she could get...even though she couldn't swim a lick.

I'm. Not. Kidding. when I say that she was lucky she had me for her mother back in the days when I had nerves of steel. (They're sort of like tarnished copper now.) I've always said that most women would have lost it completely and beaten her into submission. I, however, merely wrote poems about her as a means of venting my fears and of which I will post at the end of this little tribute. (Yes, it IS a tribute. Honest, I'm getting to that. But part of the tribute is knowing where she's coming from...)

Here's the thing. Karin is and was delightful. By age four or so, she had even stopped being frightful. (In the sense of having to work so hard to keep her alive, that is...) Her personality was always as sunny and pleasant as can be. She charmed your socks off the whole time she was trying to do herself in. But she did not succeed in this effort (the doing herself in, I mean)...thanks, in large part, to ME. That's right, MOI! Dear old Mom. And she owes me...BIG-time.

The good news is that, over the years, she has more than paid me off. I can think of no daughter who is more patient with and loving toward her mother. While my other friends were in dismay throughout most of the teen years, disrespected and talked back to by snippy, snotty teens who thought they were the lamest moms on earth, my own daughter openly admired and respected me. That's right, while other adolescent girls were systematically tearing down their mothers' individual and collective self esteem, Karin was actually building mine. Oh sure, she rolled her eyes at me here and there, but she always listened...and some of the time she even acted on what I said. (Some of the time.) But the good news is that ALL of the time, even though she didn't necessarily take my advice, she absolutely respected my right to give it. And we got along great. Still do, in fact!

Here are the qualities I love about my Karin:  her kindness, her enthusiasm for life, her love for children and family, her willingness to help others, her pluckiness, her strength, her increasing wisdom, her goodness, her smarts, her humor, her heart. She is also beautiful, as you can see in the above picture, but her inner beauty far exceeds anything you can see on the surface (although it DOES sort of radiate from her). She works with the Young Women organization in my church, and I think they are lucky to have her. As am I. And one day...soon, hopefully!...her very own children will be lucky to have her, too.

I am always so, so proud to be her mother.

Happy birthday, Karin. I love you! Have a fun day at Disneyland with your sweet hubby.

Mom  =)

©1981 by Susan Noyes Anderson

She’s one of a kind.
She’s sheer delight
wrapped up in pure
an open invitation
to go wacky
or be happy
confusion, chaos and intrusion
into your life’s order.

If organization is your thing,
I wouldn’t advise a heavy dose.
But if the predictable
brings you down,
may I recommend
my own personal clown?
True, she may drive you
crazy (or worse)
but there is one reward.
Though she’ll make you
or break you,
you’ll never,
be bored.


em said...

okay, i'm imagining brennan on top of the fridge. what a crazy story!!!! so funny, loved getting to know your daughter:-)

Lisa Loo said...

Loved this tribute. I can't even imagine how EITHER of you made it to her adulthood! Wow! I think I would have resorted to duct taping to the wall--not poem writing--but- thats just me. Loved your poem. Love that you LOVE your daughter. Have a happy day!

Natalie said...

What a wonderful tribute. Kudos to you both for surviving the first few years together! :)

I love the poem. And, the stories were fantastic! Gives a mom like me hope for smoother sailing down the road!

Kristin said...

Karin is the best! We love her, too. Hope she is having a great birthday!

rachel said...

Thanks for visiting my blog Sue. This is a lovely tribute to your daughter. She sounds like an amazing person and how wonderful that you are so close!
You are a very good writer :)

Heather Anderson said...

She is a good one and lots of FUN. We had a great time celebrating her Bday at Dland!

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