Thursday, December 31, 2009

To My Daughter, On The Eve Of The First Year Of The Rest Of Her Life

I'll point you to some advice before this post is through that includes the valuable edict not to disclaim before you speak. But I'm about to: your mom's not a fan of blogged navel-gazing, and only does so for special occasions. This seems like one such occasion, however, so we'll make an exception. I think you should use your voice as often as possible but use it for something worthwhile like public policy or political analysis. Or maybe, to start, commenting on your favorite episode of Sesame Street - that's a fine start.

There's too much advice to give you and I won't fit it all in here, except to say this: wow, next year is going to be HUGE for you. You'll exist, something you didn't do until midway through 2009 or potentially at all during 2009, depending on your philosophical beliefs. It's going to be a hell of a year for us both with the main difference between our shared experience being that you'll get to sleep for much of it and I won't.

I weighed the pros and cons of each sex before I found out your designation. It seems so easy for boys. Unfortunately, it probably still will during your lifetime. But then again, what fun is it to simply measure up to expectations? You have the chance to buck more trends, break more barriers, weasel your way into history more defiantly as a girl. My wishes for you are pretty simple: be healthy and become the first female, physicist, television comedy writing, CMC alumna, Formula 1 racing champion, American President. I think if you get an early jump on things with old episodes of 321 Contact, the Cosby Show, and the West Wing, you can make it.

Having a child is a funny thing. Or so I hear, since I'm still pretty much in denial that the result of this pregnancy business is a person you must bring home from the hospital and for whom you'll immediately need to start a college fund. The closest thing to immortality is reproducing - to ensure that at least one person knows you existed after all those before you, and then you, die. Of course, by the same token, nothing makes you fear death more or feel like your life is ending more than creating new life. I'm not finished yet - at least, I hope not. Not finished being me. Not finished accomplishing things. Not finished changing and exploring and loving and hurting and learning and writing and being. But it won't be about me for much longer. It will be about you. I wonder if it can be about us both - in appropriate amounts. That's a question women have been working on for a long time, small one. We're going to have to keep working on it.

You're already really lucky: you have parents who love each other and who love you. Your dad is super cool - way cooler than your mom. He's smart and fixes things and cares unfailingly about your well-being and my well-being. He introduced your mom to F1 racing and some fabulous television. You're going to like him. I do, however, encourage you to kick him every now and then since he seems envious that I've been the only one you've kicked so far. Try to make him feel like part of the family.

You'll notice as the years pass that I - along with most people - tend to get all introspective at this time of year. When I was younger, I tended more to get drunk. You'll go through the same evolution, I'm sure. Because of you, though, this year I'll focus on the introspective part of the calendar flipping from December 31 to January 1. I also found this blog - it's full of very sound advice for that blogger's daughter and I hope you pay attention to most of it. Just in case, though, here are a few things I really want you to pay attention to and follow:

1.) Learn to write.
2.) Care about how stuff works.
3.) Leggings are not pants.
4.) Be scientific in how you view the world, but also appreciate storytelling.
5.) Try the Nutella.
6.) Vote.

I wish you the best of luck in 2010. There's lots of complicated stuff in the world, but you won't worry about any of it for the first few years. You won't appreciate that until later, but hopefully you'll enjoy it at the time anyway.


Pazzer1 said...

...and try not to be too scared of people from foreign lands. You could just discover that your genes are similar and that they even share your values. Happy New Year. Happy Life.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations. I didn't know.

Anonymous said...

Very beautiful.

Catherine said...

Nicely put. I wish I could feel equally introspective regarding my own "bundle of joy." [Barf] I just don't really feel connected yet. I can't talk to it or really conceive of it as a person. Maybe its all those years of pro-choice work that keep me from seeing a fetus as a person! Ha! I'm hoping one of these days I'll be able to relate a bit better and start communicating with mine as nicely as you have here. Thanks for the inspiration.

cd said...

Catherine: It took me QUITE a long while. I also wondered if it had to do with a tradition of pro-choice feeling, but I don't actually think that's the case.

I think it takes time. For the first however-many weeks (12 if you're lucky, 16 if you're me) there's no real visible difference, no feeling of movement, nothing except "knowing" that you are pregnant, and in most cases, feeling like complete shit for that many weeks on end. Hard to bond with something like that. Something that seemed - to me, at the start - to be frankly parasitic in nature.

I'm still not fawning over my own belly. I care about the baby, sure. But that's been a process that's grown along with the child. It didn't start that way from the moment I peed on a stick.

Don't feel rushed. It's hard not to let our culture make us feel deficient for not bursting into tears at the first sight of a vibration on an ultra sound or the sound of a fetal heartbeat on the dopler (at least, I didn't have that reaction).

I take a lot of comfort in trusting that nature and hormones will do their thing at birth and biology will help solidify the attachment.