Easter Sunday in southern California was beautiful that year. As large as I was, I wanted to be up and active, to meet people and spread the joy around. Jim and our two young children were not feeling well, though, so I went to church by myself. I put on my brightest maternity dress and went eagerly. I don’t remember if I made an Easter dinner or did any special activity with the kids. I started feeling some cramping that evening. I took a late bath to relax, then lay down to sleep. Suddenly, my water broke. Jim got the kids up and took them to a friend’s house, then he came back to collect me. When we pulled into the parking lot at the hospital, I could barely walk. I looked at my watch. It was midnight. No longer Easter. Seventeen minutes later, before any of the staff could complete paperwork and processing, Rebecca Louise was born.
“Monday’s child is fair of face.” It became evident to me by the time Becca was able to crawl that she was exceptionally beautiful. She had large blue eyes fringed with fantastically long lashes, like her father. She had the most perfect little nose and rosebud lips. Her face was open, balanced, symmetrical, delicate. I became so proud of my live doll and enjoyed dressing her up and showing her off. She, however, had no desire to sit on a shelf and be admired. She wanted to move! She made noise! She definitely had a mind of her own. She challenged my idea of “perfect” and began educating me in parenting at an early age…and continued that education more vigorously in her teenaged years. Here is a picture of her as a baby, out of focus a bit, scanned on a dusty screen. It wasn’t until I cropped it and enlarged it that I noticed she has a cut on her lip. Typical. She climbed on everything. When she was a toddler, she fell in a parking lot and shattered her front tooth. It had to be extracted. Until she was 6, she sported a gap-toothed smile in the middle of that perfect face. The day it happened, I cried for hours. I would have given anything to reverse that split-second event and restore her to completion. Not for her sake, mind you. She really wasn’t badly hurt. For mine. She was already teaching me that my attachment to perfection could create suffering.
Becca’s beauty went deeper as she grew. She became a graceful gymnast, then a dancer. Her remarkable intelligence was evident, but seemed to be tempered by a soft heart for people. She became quite popular, admired by her peers for obvious reasons. There’s nothing more daunting to a comfortably nerdy mother than having a popular, attractive daughter!Again, she challenged me and made it necessary for me to educate myself in social awareness.
High school was a minefield. “Perfection” was blown up completely. The bits of Becca that came floating back down became unrecognizable to me because I was still looking for an image, not for a person, a person who had a million deep feelings and only a few words safe enough to utter about them. My best efforts at communication boiled down to the times I simply held her while she cried. I won’t even mention my worst efforts.
(photo credit: unknown)
Finally, she graduated and moveddown state to live near her brother and study massage therapy. That’s where she was when her father died. She was 18.
(photo credit: unknown)
It was a new minefield, but this time, we were both better at dealing with fallout. She moved back home, and we both worked hard at rebuilding, not “perfection”, but life. She is a certified massage therapist now. She creates original jewelry, grows vegetables and “mothers” a dog and cat with that same combination of beauty, grace and energy that she showed as a toddler. Her heart is large, tender and tough all at the same time. She is so much more than a pretty face!
(photo credit: Steve)
So, Happy 23rd Birthday, Rebecca! I amforever proud of you and grateful for all that you’ve taught me. Have a great night celebrating with Joe. I’ll see you next week at the Museum of Science and Industry – can’t wait!!