Finally legal

M. pretending to be a walrus at the beach yesterday, where we went to gather water to make salt.  


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Although I’m sure that no matter which babies had come into my life I would have made the best of it, I was lucky enough to birth two incredible people, the first being little M., who arrived exactly 21 years ago today. 

Before I had kids, I thought I was grown up, and I imagined myself teaching them things.  It turns out I had it completely wrong, and they’ve taught me more about life and love and forgiveness and just generally being decent than I even knew was out there.  The things I’ve taught them could be summed up in this list:
  1. Try not to run out of toilet paper;
  2. Never buy coffee from a drive-through box because it’s unclear where the barista goes to the bathroom, and the coffee usually has an odd flavor;
  3. Put the heavy stuff on the part of the tray that’s closest to you;
  4. Be good to your sibling because you may need his or her kidney some day;
  5. Never scrimp on olive oil, and in general, don’t be a cheapskate with your things or your feelings or your good will.
What I’ve learned from my young people is immeasurable, and has changed my life from black and white to full color, which sounds like a cheesy Hallmark sentiment, but it’s absolutely true, and at the risk of embarrassing little M. on her birthday, I will tell this story about her.  

When she was about 13, I don’t even remember what she had done, but it was something annoying and minor, and I responded with a ridiculous and attacking lecture.  If what she had done was leave a big mess in a common area, I might have said something like, “Really?  Does it seem like I want to spend my tiny amount of free time picking up after you?”

And instead of getting defensive, she came over and gave me a hug, and said, “I’m sorry, Mom.  I’ll clean it up.”  Which totally took the wind out of my irritated little sails, because it was so obvious who was the bigger person and who was the snarly emotional midget.

I asked her about it the next day.  “How were you able to respond to such an attacking comment so non-defensively?  It would have been totally legitimate for you to defend yourself by explaining your side of the story.”

“Well, my side didn’t really matter then.  If something I’ve done has hurt someone I love, I don’t get to decide whether they should feel upset. They do, and that’s all that matters.  So, I didn’t feel sorry as if I’d done something wrong, I just felt sorry that you were upset, so it was pretty easy to apologize and really mean it.”

Anyway, that’s what that’s what it’s been like to have this particular person as a daughter.  She’s showed me what it looks like to try hard at everything, and to be kind and thoughtful and forgiving, and I hope that one day, I can be that sort of person too.

May the road rise up to meet you, M.  Happy Birthday.

Comments

  1. Never buy your coffee from a box!

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  2. Thirteen? Seriously? I still can't do that.

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  3. Oh my gosh, those are guiding words for a marriage.

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  4. Wow. I am impressed! I really do think it does have something to do with her upbringing though.

    :) You can still take credit! :)

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  5. I think we have said it before...some people are wise and it doesn't come from age.

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  6. Just a clue..the above anonymous post was from your oldest friend in the world.

    By the way, no holes barred (I'm not sure if that is the correct idiom) but you is de bestest mother ever. That might have a bit to do with the wisdom, tenacity, and creativity of your children....

    PS I don't know how to spell tenacity, but I hope you know what I mean.

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  7. M is a star. "...and a little child shall lead them."

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  8. so, how 'bout that kidney?

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  9. I agree with Cartoon Characters :) It seems to me perhaps you taught by osmosis and did not recognize your reflection.

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  10. I'm going to have that tattooed on my forehead.
    Just beautiful.

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  11. There is an award waiting for you on thefeatherednest.

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  12. I love this post. I got a little teary eyed reading it, maybe because I've been that snarly midget, and my kids are more even keeled than me most days. It's a mystery. We did contribute genetic material though, right?
    Congratulations to your amazing daughter on her 21st birthday. How do they grow up so fast?

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  13. Thank you Mel! I know, it sure is fast. It seems like I was pregnant just last week!

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  14. late in the game....but, snarly emotional midget.....omg, that's me betsy. this makes me teary too....what a lovley soul M is. and what a lovley mama......may the road rise up to meet us all. xoxoxo jennette

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