Friday, 17 June 2011
Many happy returns
Today is my oldest daughter’s “golden” birthday:
She is seventeen on the 17th of June.
We moved to England when I was 7 months pregnant with Rebecca, and I remember, so vividly, that last long week of waiting . . . and how the days seemed to be suspended, caught in amber, dragged out into long golden twilight.
I remember feeling really impatient to know what this unknown person was going to be like . . . and the answer was smart, strong, fierce, quick-witted, opinionated, stubborn and charming. She looked like her father; still does, but never more so than the moment she was born. She was quick to walk, to talk, to read. She was impatient and bossy – but with an endearing giggle, and an unexpected tender side. I hardly remember life before her, and I’m amazed at how quickly the years of her childhood have gone by; how clichéd is that?
At this time of year, I’m always really conscious of the fact that we are climbing ever nearer to the summer solstice. Does anyone else feel slightly melancholy when we tip over to the other side -- and the days begin to gradually diminish?
And now, as my oldest daughter nears adulthood, I think about how we are nearing some sort of zenith – but a kind of falling-off point, too. And unlike the seasons, my daughter’s childhood won’t come around again. That funny little person – my little Beccalou, who always had her nose in a book – is just a snapshot now.
In a week, my daughter will be going to Ghana – and who knows how that challenge will change her? Later on this summer, she will experience job internships, university applications, a trip to Cyprus, a long weekend at the Reading Festival. Solo adventures, all. Not unaccompanied, but unaccompanied by me. I’m happy for her, and delighted by her growing confidence and sense of her own powers. There is nothing, at seventeen, but a world of possibility . . . and mothers need to make way and step aside. (But she knows where to find me!)
Happy Birthday, Rebecca! And many happy returns