In the beginning ...
When I learned I was expecting, I imagined myself in a flowing Liberty of London print dress sitting in a bucolic field of wild flowers with a tapestry journal in one hand and an antique fountain pen in the other. With classical music in the background, I planned to immortalize every precious moment of pregnancy and motherhood.
As my daughter grew from infant to baby, toddler and little girl, we would have elaborate tea parties, go to the ballet together, play with paper dolls, read children's classics like Alice Through the Looking Glass, The Wizard of Oz, Little Women, Jane Eyre.
And throughout, I would chronicle her idyllic childhood for posterity.
For one reason or another (or more likely, for hundreds of different and disconnected reasons), I didn't keep that journal. And, it's too bad. Because I've learned so much along the way. My daughter is an excellent teacher.
Lately, I've learned just how many syllables are in the word "Mom." Here's a hint: the answer isn't one. Or two. Or even three.
I've learned what it must be like to gingerly walk across a minefield — that's pretty much how I feel every time I venture into her room.
I've learned what brands are cool (Hollister, Abercrombie, Hard Tail), what brands are not (Justice for Girls, Gap, Old Navy). I've learned how to make my daughter happy (unlimited time on her iPhone) and how to torture her (kiss or hug her "good-bye" when I drop her off at school).
Most recently, I've learned about unrequited love. That you can love someone with all your heart and soul whether they want you to or not.
Thirteen years after my daughter's birth (a mere 14 hours of knee-buckling labor, thank you very much), I finally find that I have time to write again. And what I find I want to write is less about so-called precious moments (art directed by someone from Victoria magazine) and more about the ups and downs, and sheer bewilderment that comes with loving a daughter who is no longer a child but not yet a woman.
Loving the alien.