Between today and next Sunday, my firstborn, my Yael will turn thirty years old. Her birthday is a milestone in my life as well as hers. It marks thirty years since I became a mom. When I think back to my life before I had children, I don’t quite perceive it without them. I view it in the context of their eventual arrival along a continuum. Since the day Yael was born, I never again perceived my life or the world completely without her.
I have no sisters, only brothers. I always wished I had a sister and have had many women friends throughout the years who served me well, some still serving, as stand-ins for a sister. During my childbearing years, I fully expected to have two daughters. I believed that my girls would never go without a sister like I did. But it didn’t work out that way for Yael, just as it didn’t for me. She also has many terrific women friends and relies on them the way one would rely on a sister. But don’t make the mistake of thinking Yael and I are alike.
My daughter has ever been her own woman. She selected what she would wear each day from the time she was fourteen months old. She went clothing shopping with a pacifier in her mouth and picked out her outfit for the day before she could speak more than a few hundred words. I have read about how a daughter goes through a separation period from her mother, a time when she discovers who she is as a separate person, a woman differentiated from her mother. Usually this occurs when women are in their teens or twenties. I believe Yael did this when she was two years old. Whenever I took her to play at a friend’s house, she would say to me, “You can go now.” Dismissed. She wanted me out so she could carry on with her own life. We are such different women in so many ways that when I recognize a way in which we are similar it often takes me by surprise. Crazy that, because as much as we are different, we also have much in common. More so than my daughter realizes.
In thirty years, my hopes and dreams for my daughter have changed very little. I want her to be healthy and happy, protected from harm. I want her to have a fulfilling life with meaningful work that gives her the opportunity to use her talents. I want her to be recognized for her accomplishments and appreciated for her work. I want her to travel through life in the company of a wonderful life partner, someone who adores her and someone with whom she is completely her real self, completely comfortable. I want her to live in a beautiful home in a lovely community. I want her to have children and to love raising them as much as I loved raising her and her brothers. I want her to have the best friends any woman can hope to have. I want her life to overflow with music, laughter, delicious food, good times, extraordinary people, and an abundance of love. I have prayed for these things for her from the first time I watched her sleep in my arms.
Although I am an abundantly creative person, I could never have imagined a daughter as magnificent as the one I received. She lights up the room when she enters. On the day that I left her at college and drove away from her dorm after moving her in, I said to no one in particular, “Look out world, here comes our Yael.” She’s still on her way world, so keep looking out. Feeling blessed and sending love to my one and only girl on her thirtieth birthday.
Me and my girl during her "pink phase" at one year old.
Me and my girl in May 2013.