Thursday, June 24, 2010



Dear M,


11 years already. It seems like yesterday that we were celebrating you entering the double digits. And here you are now, already 11.

Two lines side by side in parallel rather than unison as if to signify your independence. How I miss those years of 8 that had the perfection, continuity and infinity of form. Back then, I was Almighty. Now, you are beginning to see my weaknesses. Just last weekend you were quizzing me on the existence of God and asking me so many “whys” that I was forced to say that I was still trying to figure things out myself. I'm lucky you are a tomboy and not asking me about kissing, dating, love letters... (I wrote my first when I was your age, but there's no way I'm going to admit this to you just yet...)

You find it strange that suddenly I don't have the answers to everything. You are already scrutinizing so many of my choices from the husband I married (your father) to my choice of country to live...And you declared that you keep secrets that I'm not supposed to know about (though you did promise that these are innocent secrets that make you feel grown-up rather than stuff I would not approve of). I'm secretly jealous of your friends who know your secrets, but realise that this is a good thing that comes part and parcel with being 11.

Soon your admiration for me will cease and you'll enter the teen years. But I’m kind of looking forward to the challenges you are bound to throw my way (I hope you are just as inventive as I was!).

Up until now we’ve been 1, but now the 11 is beginning to slash through. 11 seems strong and symmetrical, but it really isn’t so. Don’t be fooled by the power of this number and don’t rush forth too fast, little one. Indeed, there is the strength of the two unwavering lines and their refusal to bend. But don’t forget the atrocities: the uncertainty of the eleventh hour, the 11/9/2001 attack that changed the world, and let’s not forget the popular idiom – “up to eleven” or “these go to eleven” which has come to refer to anything being exploited to its utmost abilities or apparently exceeding them. CLICK HERE to see what I mean.

Oh, Mel, how I already miss you every day even though you are here. Thank you for still allowing me to kiss you, tickle you and buy you bunnies... Please, let's l i n g e r for as long as we can in this in-between place. Let's not take the amp to 11 just yet but find middle place between those two stubbornly separate lines.

Lots of love always my little bee,

PS. You had just one guest and her sister - with Z that made four of you altogether - and you made your own birthday cake together with your friends, I took you all to the Hilton's pool, we went for a film and squeezed in as much life and vigour as we could into just one day. A beautiful day...not quite as perfect as the day when I first looked into your bright, intelligent eyes. Many happy returns.


Sharon said...

This makes me so nostalgic for my three daughter's childhoods. Ahhh. Brings to mind a quote from Dickens, "Life is made of ever so many partings welded together."
(Sorry, I'm addicted to quotes. Comes from my Mom, yet another reason to be nostalgic.)

The Novelist said...

Beautiful letter to your daughter. She is a lucky girl to have a mom like you. My oldest (a boy) will be 16 this year and it kills me every day because I love it and I hate it. I love the conversations that we can have together and I hate that he can't just sit on my lap to read a book anymore. He is already smarter than me in so many ways and I find myself learning from him every day. What makes your post so special is that your daughter will have your thoughts to keep forever. So many of us have thoughts that should be remembered, but unless they are recorded they are lost forever.

Sandy, Sisters of Season said...

Too too sweet . . Happy B-Day Mel! Mary, you are going to love every bit of it . . watching her grow up and then some . . I promise you! Enjoy her with all your heart . . Sandy:O)

Ro Magnolia said...

I love this post, incredibly beautiful. I don't have a daughter, but I am a daughter. I can say now, so many years past that magical "11" that my mother is probably my best friend. I would not have said that at "11" ... or "12" .... and especially not at "13"! Something about those adolescent years where were forging for ourselves who we are and instinctively push away a bit from our mothers and their apron strings.

But truthfully, I think the very fact that we are able to push away and assert our own independence is a tribute to our mothers' excellent parenting. They give us the tools we need to become adults and then the room in which to grow.

So if M. is starting to push away just a little, with her "secrets" that help her to define her own identity separate from yours, it's because you are doing a good job as a mother, helping her to discover her very own special "11" year old self.

(By the way, your writing is incredibly beautiful, especially considering this is not your first language. I love how you so quickly evoke emotion with the words you choose.)

Phoenix said...

This is so cute. I hope your daughter appreciates how loving and awesome you are :) 11 years old, wow! That's growing up fast, isn't it? (PS us tomboys grow up to be awesome women, I'm tellin' ya!)

Robin said...

It sounds like the two of you are a lot alike. I can understand you wanting to keep her young and innocent as long as possible. The teen years are usually pretty miserable. However, there will come a day when she and you will very likely be the best of friends. As you know by now, I actually have NO parenting advice since I have no idea what to do with H-girl. So just love her!

Purple Cow said...

Sharon - nice quote... life is just like that!

Novelist - We are the lucky ones to have these children to put all our patience and beliefs to the crash test!

Sandy - I believe you!

Ro - Perhaps the letter is to me more than to my daughter... Not sure the letters I've written over the years won't bore her. Truth is, I felt the need.

Phoenix - She is growing fast...and making me realise that I am, too!

Robin - we are alike because she hasn't rebelled yet. hasn't realised how flawed I am. so far she's thought my words were of wisdom and from now on her job will be to disprove everything I've ever said. I'm ready and in position...

George said...

May I wish your daughter 'Happy Birthday'? Is 'Mel' short for Melinda? Melanie? Melissa?
My daughter is named Melanie and she gets called 'Mel' by her friends.

Reading your post I was reminded of Margaret Mead's poem to her daughter, 'That I be not a restless ghost'. Do you know it?
When my daughter was around the same age I was so moved by this poem that I typed it out and put it in an album alongside a photo of Melanie. I didn't tell her - I didn't tell anyone. But from time to time I take out the album, look at the photo and read the poem.

I was moved by your post. The way you evoke (and share) the intimacy of your relationship with your daughter is... I was going to say wonderful, but I don't want you feeling ten foot tall again, so how about 'magical'?
I reckon that's about eight foot six inches worth:):)

Purple Cow said...

George - I googled the poem. Very nice. Sentiment is similar to that of Kahlil Gibran's "Your Children are not your Children, they are the sons and daughters of life's longing for itself...."

You've spoken of your daughter before in other comments. She sounds special.

And you do to! (hope that made you feel 10 feet tall - give or take an inch).

Frances said...

I still remember people telling me how quickly they would grow, when my life seemed to involve nothing except nappies and demands, and I saw myself as a Sisyphus who would be doing this for ever, and ever, and ever....
And, in retrospect it was all over in a twinkling.
P.S. "Not much of a friend am I", is a wonderful, harrowing post, so true to most of us.

Bringing Pretty Back said...

sniff sniff... I need a tissue.

Robin said...

I just wanted to let you know that I tagged you on HERE'S TO YOU THURSDAY. However, it is completely unrelated to this post. Just sayin'.

George said...

I hope you are well