Friday, March 22, 2013

Forever Young

I am not sure where the time has gone. Aria turns five tomorrow. While I feel like she has grown so much in these last 5 years, the reality is that the same could be said for me. Being Aria's mother has taught me a lot about myself, about the sort of person that I want to be, and about love, the sort of love that is raw and true. When I first found out that I was going to be a mother I didn't worry about whether I could take care of a baby, I knew that I could. But I have discovered that a different sort of worry comes with parenthood. The sorts of worries that keep me up at night have nothing to do with whether I can meet her basic needs. I worry instead whether I can raise a resilient and compassionate person who cares about herself and the world and knows how to balance both concerns.

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others and let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
And may you always stay forever young

But most of all, I worry that I'm not the most qualified person for this job. Folks looking in from the outside see a mom who is a full time doctoral student and has a side business with two of her best friends and I wonder sometimes if they think I have it 100% together. But the truth is that some days I feel like I'm just an imposter. Most days my house is a mess, I'm lucky if I leave the house with a clean shirt on not to mention a well put together outfit, and there are days when I just feel like the crappiest mom in the world. I worry constantly about my capacity to raise a confident strong daughter when I still have my own personal devils to wrestle. How can I tell her that she is so much more than her looks when I still catch myself wishing I was prettier and thinner? How can I teach her to believe in herself when I question everything that I do?

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth about the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and strong
And may you always stay forever young

But here's the thing. When I slow down long enough to take a breath, I see myself through my child's eyes. She loves me unconditionally and thinks I am the most beautiful mother in the world. She doesn't care if the house is a mess or my hair is a few days too dirty. All she notices and cares about is the time we spend together. As someone who has spent her life trying to be perfect, motherhood has taught me that perfection is an impossible goal.  And you know when I'm not being neurotic I sometimes suspect that it is my imperfections that make me a good mom. Now I'm not saying that I embrace all my bad parenting moments, because I don't.  The times when I yell at Aria for behaving like a typical child are not my proudest moments, but I'm not afraid to admit to my little girl that I've made a mistake; I'm not afraid to apologize to her and own up to those mistakes.

And something that I've come to realize in this journey is that as her first teacher its my job to make sure that Aria doesn't fall into the same trap her mother did in thinking that perfection is necessary to be a good person.  In fact, I'd rather she learn that trying to be perfect is a recipe for misery. Instead I'd like her to learn that the goal in life is to be the best person you can be, to make amends when you make mistakes because you surely will make mistakes, and to remember that the little things in life are what makes life worth living. Those are lessons she can only learn by seeing me embrace these truths myself.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation for when the winds of change shift
May your heart always be joyful
May your song always be sung
And may you always stay forever young

No matter the fears that sometimes creep up on me, the reality is that I am the mother she was born to and I joyfully if sometimes fearfully embrace this job of mine. The one thing I can say with confidence is that raising Aria is the most important job that I will ever have. I have a life outside motherhood and I enjoy that life but nothing will ever compare to being her mother. Nothing.

Happy Birthday to my brilliant and amazing little girl. May you grow up to be happy and content with your life and yourself. May you find joy in the little things while you strive for BIG things.

*Forever Young by Bob Dylan is the song that Aria and I sing together at bedtime and random times throughout the day.  Its our song and really it says everything I could ever hope to articulate about what I'd like for my daughter as she grows up.*  


  1. Oh Robin, this is such a beautiful post and just what I needed to read this morning. Love to you and to Aria - you are 2 inspiring women that I'm so thankful to have in my life! - Lesley

    1. Thanks, Lesley. I'm pretty thankful to have you and your fabulous family in our lives as well. <3