It is more than providing food and shelter. It is deeper than laying a strong foundation. It is greater than nurturing even. As the years go by and I see the inevitable march of time that distances me from my children, I realize that my job as mother is to give them all that they need to form their own core – a sense of self that is solid and reliable, loyal and loving. In short, my job is to help them build their inner strength. To foster self-confidence that breeds resolve. To help shape human beings who can handle all that life brings with equanimity.
Today Princess turns 12. More than the cake, gifts and birthday parties, my wish for her is best summarized in the words of one of my favorite authors, Anna Quindlen.
“Someday, sometime, you will be sitting somewhere. A berm overlooking a pond in Vermont. The lip of the Grand Canyon at sunset. A seat on the subway. And something bad will have happened: You will have lost someone you loved, or failed at something at which you badly wanted to succeed. And sitting there, you will fall into the center of yourself. You will look for some core to sustain you. And if you have been perfect all your life and have managed to meet all the expectations of your family, your friends, your community, your society, chances are excellent that there will be a black hole where that core ought to be. I don’t want anyone I know to take that terrible chance. And the only way to avoid it is to listen to that small voice inside you that tells you to make mischief, to have fun, to be contrarian, to go another way. George Eliot wrote, ‘It is never too late to be what you might have been.’ It is never too early, either.”