Saturday, 13 October 2007

Happy 13th Birthday

Today is my gorgeous daughter's 13th birthday. Thirteen on the 13th. My husband and I were reminiscing yesterday about where we were 13 years ago. I was in a hospital bed getting ready to have an epidural. I'd progressed over two days from a TENS machine to diamorphine (which made me sick) to epidural. I'd been placed on an oxytocin drip to speed up the contractions. Finally, on this day at 9:30 a.m. a team from the United Nations was in place. There was me, the American. My husband, the Briton. The midwife from Ireland married to a man from Burma. The OB/GYN was Australian, and the pediatrician hailed from Nigeria.

My daughter was positioned at an angle that was not conducive to a straightforward delivery. They put me in a larger delivery room because they anticipated a C-section. First, they wanted to try forceps. "I'm not having forceps" I told them. "I know someone who had a forceps delivery and her son was born with cerebral palsy."

"OK," they said, "we'll try the Ventouse, but if that doesn't work, it'll have to be a caesarean."

"I'm not having a caesarean," I said. "You may not have a choice," they replied.

The Ventouse worked, thankfully, and my beautiful daughter was born with her eyes wide open. She looked all around her as if to say "Hello, world, I'm here."

She's still like that. She has my mother's green eyes, nose and mouth. She is darker than me; her chestnut hair has auburn streaks that the sun picks out. She is nearly my height now. Years of dance have ensured that her body is muscular, though with a small layer of puppy fat still. A typical Libra, she gets upset by conflict, though she doesn't shy away from it. She is stronger emotionally than me, more confident than I was at that age. Not surprising. She shares her birthday with Margaret Thatcher.

We seem to have achieved a trusting relationship. Yesterday, as we drove home from the hairdresser's, she told me about girls in her class (12-year-olds) who have had sex. She told of another now in Year 10 who had an abortion over the summer when she was 14. I don't know whether to believe these stories. You know what girls and rumours are like. I asked her to promise me she wouldn't have sex before she's 18. She said she couldn't make that promise. I then said, "At least make sure he uses condoms because pregnancy isn't the only thing you have to worry about. And please be in a mutually loving relationship."

She asked if I was 18 when I first had sex. I lied and said yes. I'm not ready to tell her yet that I was only 15, that I regret to this day my early sexual activity. I will in time when she and I are ready. I never had conversations about sex with my mother. I felt very uncomfortable if she ever brought the subject up. My daughter is more innocent than I was at that age. I intend for her to stay that way for as long as possible.

Tonight she is having a party with a few school friends and some boys. She says the boys are mates. She is taller than all of them. Thank God. Twelve- and 13-year-old boys don't like taller girls, as I recall. But then I moved on to older boys. I've warned my daughter against that. "Older boys will expect you to do things older girls do. Don't ever do anything you're not comfortable doing."

That she did promise me.


Flowerpot said...

Sounds like you have an amazingly good relationship - good for you!

Pixie said...

That made me well up, just lovely.

Although i adore my boys I always wanted a girl, I have to borrow my niece instead.

You sound as if the relationship is so strong now that it will survive the attitude years!

Pantheist Mom said...

I think you're giving her a great gift in having a mom she can talk openly with.

It sure is scary, having these little birdies reach the age where we start thinking about encouraging them to jump out of the nest (my son is 11). They're still little enough to be ours now, but we're working hard to groom them to be independent of us. (sniff)

I wouldn't have it any other way though.

Happy Birthday to your lovely daughter!

laurie said...

she sounds beautiful. great description, especially the hair. and it does sound like you two are very open and honest with each other, which is somewhat remarkable.

13 is a tough age to get to open up! i remember how terribly sullen i was from about 13 to, oh, i don't know, 30? just kidding. maybe 13 to 15. thought my mom was totally clueless.

sounds like your daughter is wise and good.

Anonymous said...

Your daughter sounds like a wonderful child. Thirteen is a difficult age to be, I remember it yet don't want to at the same time! What a great mum you are. Your daughter's respect shines through.

Crystal xx

The Rotten Correspondent said...

What a terrific relationship you have with your daughter. I love the ease with which you can talk about the big subjects. I remember 13 and it was really scary.

I don't know if boys hit this stage later or if I just have clueless boys. I'm not looking forward to them getting a clue,either.

Snuffleupagus said...

How lovely. Yes, the stories are true. You know this from your own experiences! I still have to find out more about the day you took off work and met your husband...

Kaycie said...

She sounds like a lovely girl, inside and out. Trust me, if you can talk to her at 13, you've got it made. That was our hardest year. Good for you both!

It is amazing how we learn from our own childhood and improve our children's, isn't it?

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

flowerpot: Most of the time we do have a good relationship. But there are days....

Pixie: We're already in the attitude years. That's why I'm pulling my hair out.

pantheist mom: I have to work hard on my attitude because if I react the way I'm thinking, she shuts right up.

laurie: last week I told my daughter that my IQ dropped 100 points the day she started secondary school. She agreed! I remember being 13 and being horrid to my mother. Payback time.

CJ: I hope she respects me. I do wonder sometimes.

RC: Boys come to this stage a year or two later, judging from what I've seen. Maybe that's a good thing. I'll let you know when my son is there.

snuffy: Oh yeah, I'll post about that soon.

kaycie: You've been through it and come out the other side. It does have its ups and downs, doesn't it?

Vi vi vi vooom!!!!!!!! said...

Personally mate, I'd tell her the truth about you losing it at 15, how you wish you hadn't. Sounds like you both have a trusting relationship, and she would appreciate knowing what it was really like for you.

blueangel said...

Your daughter is a lucky girl to have such a caring Mum!

ciara said...

your daughter is really rather smart for her age....i know she couldn't promise not to have sex before 18 and in all honesty i don't know if any teen can. but it's fabulous you told her about birth control. i've already had the puberty talk w my girls because they seem to be growing at a slightly higher than avg rate than most of the girls their age. i've told them i would hope that you wouldn't have sex too early, but that if they had that feeling i couldn't stop them, but to be open with me about it so we can take preventive measures.

those stories of girls getting pregnant in their early teens aren't so far fetched. i've actually seen/known girls who were that age and even younger getting pregnant.

hey, at least you weren't like my mom, 'if you're gonna do it, get protection'. that was the extent of 'the talk' for me. i have always been open to my kids...raised one who's now 20(he turned out pretty good) and just have the 11 n 9 yr old left.

anyways, i'll stop rambling now lol HAPPY BIRTHDAY WAKE'S DAUGHTER!!

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Vi: I will tell her in due course. But I was driving on the motorway when this conversation took place and just didn't feel it was the right time yet.

blueangel: thank you. I do try and sometimes am very trying.

ciara: I keep having these talks with my daughter. I was only 9 when my periods started and I was so relieved it didn't happen for my daughter till she was 12. Those three years make a huge difference.

Self employed mum said...

Open and honest (more or less) is the best way to gain respect with your children. We have friends who's daughter has a baby a month before her 15th birthday, she got engaged to someone else when she was 17, has just had her 18th birthday and is pregnant again, I would have thought giving birth at 14 would have been enough to put her off. It's very sad. I hope I can get through to my children.

Shauna Loves Chocolate said...

Congratulations on raising a great young woman. I'm in awe and hope I can do half as well with my daughter.