Today is your last day of being 14 years old. Watching you move through life and process the nonsense this era has thrown like confetti, inspires me to do better; be better. I began to complain the other day, about a stranger who aggravated me with her self-importance. “Stop it; you’re being silly,” you castigated me. “You don’t know what she’s going through in her life. Why stress yourself out? Come on, let’s go for a walk.” You cut through drama and angst with firm compassion, offering forth the best advice I and many others have ever received. I dreamt about you for over a decade and when the first IVF clinic gave me no hope, I went to another. I just wanted to see what would happen, if I made it through a whole cycle.
You were always in a hurry, from the time you were an embryo, rapidly dividing. The embryo transfer had to be pushed forward as a result. You arrived early into the world and then you walked without firstly having crawled. I had put you down for a nap and went to make myself a coffee. Turning around, I screamed in fright. There you were, giggling, having climbed out of your cot, then walking to the kitchen. You were 9 months of age. You have climbed the tallest tree in Australia and have no fear of anything. You have in turn gifted me courage. You believe in kindness, whilst at the same time, not tolerating fools. You are as at home in a soup kitchen or visiting the dying, as you are in a shop with friends. You asked for plants for your birthday and your room is going to feel like a conservatory, filled with sun, air and emerald green tones. I will hardly see you tomorrow, as you’ll be on three Zoom meetings back-to-back, for almost 7 hours. When you finally emerge, we will have pizza and I will tell you once again, how lucky I am that such a numinous girl came into my world.
Children are such a wonderful mixture of curiosity, bravado and determination. If they want to do something, they will find a way. That is, until someone tells them that they don’t have a strong enough voice, for instance. When my daughter was three years old, she wanted to sing Over the Rainbow on stage at a talent quest. She dressed as Dorothy, and listened respectfully as older children performed before her. “Are you sure you want to do this sweetheart?” I asked. She nodded “yes!” I was worried that she would burst into tears up there, that she would be afraid. Shame on me. She didn’t remember all the words, but she hid her discomfort by twirling around. She was a hit. From that moment on, she wanted to become a performer. This Christmas, she will be singing with a group of her friends in front of 10,000 people at our local carols. She was sure could she sing in front of people, at three years of age, and she was right!
She also loves gymnastics and acrobatics. My stomach used to twist into knots when she was younger, and I would see her ascend to the top of climbing frames, and show off by releasing her hands. I was sometimes lectured by passers-by on the importance of keeping her on the ground, of keeping her safe. “She and I know her capabilities,” I would reply. “She is safer up there, secure in herself.” It was true, she was. As I watch her climb to the top of trees, I have the usual motherly reactions, such as the fear of her falling. I fell, and it hurt! My child isn’t going to fall, there is nobody behind her ready to push. She’s got this. I have to be calm and watch, ready to applaud her efforts. This world has already run some commentary around my daughter, as it does every child. Commentary as to what they are capable of, what they should fear, the dangers and pain that await. She shall never get it from me. Perhaps she will be an artist/rigger/acrobatic performer? I love watching her evolve into who she is destined to be. She is gathering all the corners, and making herself a parachute of dreams and hopes. She will not fall.