When you are a young first-time mother, people doubt in your ability to ever raise a child properly, to finish college, to provide a home. They tell you your marriage will crumble in a year or two...your children will never have the things they need...you will no longer get to live your wild, inspired life on your own terms.
When you are a young first-time mother, you believe them...at first.
Then the child is in your arms, holding your hand on graduation day, laughing as you and her father kiss...year in and year out, for a decade and then some. At times, you worry that she is missing out on some things--that she is watching her parents become adults and knows the inherent struggles too well. School comes, and you secretly worry that "they" were right all along and she will be somehow lagging behind peers and inappropriately dressed--like she'll be tagged, day one, as having parents who started a bit too soon.
The dreaded call-from-the-teacher comes...but, instead of being about the things she may "lack"--it is about the giftedness you hadn't really noticed at all. When you don't know better, having a three-year-old who reads slim chapter books seems normal...deep discussions about the matter of life and death with a four year old don't shock anymore...your daughter as a dissertation subject for a PhD candidate from a local university seems just a part of the process.
Besides, you already knew she was a gift.
When you are with someone like my oldest daughter, the concerns, the fears, the uncertainties, and the masks all fall away. I have become the person I am not in spite of Petunia, but because of her. Because she dreams big, so do I...because she believes in me, I believe in myself...
When I was a young first-time mother, people said my life would be over. I didn't realize it then...but, it would only begin once we met.
Petunia's latest poem:
Summer is fierce--
glowing like suns...
Running through a field--
wind blowing your long, silky hair...
whipping your dress only to make you fall
Down a hill--
a sudden happiness.
--Petunia, 2006...age nine--