My wise friend JackieJovi, mom of 4-year-old E, has told me several times that having a child — especially a daughter — makes you appreciate and understand your own mother more than you ever could before giving birth.
I thought I knew what she was talking about but I know realize how far away I was from real comprehension. Because now that I am pregnant, with less than four months to go until I too become the mother of a little girl, I realize that I owe my parents a huge apology for every bad thing I ever did.
I didn’t realize until now how many sacrifices kids demand, even when they’re in utero. Financially (wow — more to come, but I grossly underestimated the impact one child can have on a monthly budget), emotionally (I already know that I will do anything and everything for my daughter’s safety, health and happiness) and physically (my body has been turned over to another person and will never be the same).
I don’t think I was a particularly extreme trouble maker…drama queen, sure. I know I tried my parents’ patience, and certainly established my independence at an early age. I broke rules and threw tantrums and said some horrible, horrible stuff — things I didn’t mean but knew would make an impact.
I accepted money without really appreciating what it meant for my parents to be able to give it. I took for granted that they would come to every soccer game, swim meet, theater performance, choir concert, ballet recital, etc. I jumped at the chance to spend summers away at camp, as a camper and later, a counselor. I visited my boyfriend on the weekend rather than hang out with my family. Driving, of course, a car they provided and wearing clothes they bought for me.
I’m so sorry for that, so sorry, because for the first time in my life, I understand what it truly means to be selfless, and to turn over all hopes and dreams to someone else. I know that my parents did that year after year for me (and my brother). Yet even as I feel remorse for my past behavior, I find myself not only prepared to accept the same treatment, but happy to do it. This unborn Bug, kicking inside me as I type, is already the most important person in my life, and she will never be able to do or be anything that makes me stop loving her. I want her to be the same type of brave, confident, headstrong girl that I was, secure in the knowledge that as she spreads her wings, her mommy will always be there.