Today is my youngest daughter’s birthday.
Just over a week ago she got married to the young man of her dreams, whom she has known for over ten years, and whom we have grown to know and love very much too. The wedding was spectacular, and one of my profoundest joys was being asked to make a speech. Quite unusual for mothers – my husband made one too and so did she and also one of her bridesmaids, as well as the groom and the best man. Phew. Not all at once, I hasten to add.
They are now on honeymoon in Italy, recovering from the exhaustion of the prparations and organisationa and the excitement of the day itself. You can imagine.
But it set me thinking about what being a mother means, and of course forty percent of the world’s populations knows exacty what it means to be a mother. But the one thing that stands out for me is the anticipation.
Every phase of your child’s life is new and wondrous and fraught with anxiety. Am I doing the right thing? If I do this, will I traumatise my child for life? If I don’t do that, will it have a negative effect, etc etc. I am sure most people go through somethng like this, hopefully not quite as often as me, but the concerns are always there. Also you worry about developmental milestones. Will they ever eat solid foods, give up the bottle , be potty trained, learn to walk, learn to read? Will they get into high school, go to university, meet someone nice, etc etc. Neverending worries.
Yet by the time Marysia came on board my seas had calmed down a bit. I began to realise that each phase of a child’s life lasts as long as it needs to. Things happen consequentially. When they are ready. Children develop at their own pace – all we can do is love and stimulate and hug and let grow and let go. I was very good at advising parents of this as a teacher. Much harder to apply to my own self. But although I was a slow learner, I think I finally almost got there. It’s not a race to be won, having children, or a role to be played – more of a participatory sport, if you get my drift.
So it was as a very proud and doting mother that I wrote and spoke the following:
Good afternoon, welcome to all of you. I am so pleased to see so many of Marysia’s friends here and I hope to get to know you all by the end of the day. Let me introduce myself – I am Basia and as you may have guessed, the bride’s mother.
As mother of the bride, I feel I am very privileged – not least because I get to wear some kooky headgear
– but mainly because I am Marysia’s mother.
She very kindly asked me to say a few words and I just want to share with you just what she means to me.
Before Marysia was born our little family was complete. I was mother to a girl and a boy, and everything seemed perfect. And then suddenly – an autumn leaf – a star from the sky – a gift from heaven. Well, what a surprise. Totally unexpected – but what a delight.
She was in such a hurry to make her mark on the world that she came six weeks early – a perfect tiny specimen.
As older parents Jacek and I were determined not to worry. After all we were experienced now. We were also lucky. She was the easiest baby in the world. Maybe she wouldn’t have been if her older siblings hadn’t been so helpful. Thank you Kasia and Andrzej for letting me sleep whenever Marysia slept. You were incredible children too.
Then she grew up. Our little Lala or Dolly. She charmed everyone in nursery and primary school, and later too. At high school she got the first and only sporting injury in the family – I was so proud. And of all her other achievements too.
Marysia did incredibly well at university, though perhaps her greatest achievement there was to meet her future husband in the first few weeks.
Alex quickly realised that this beautiful, warm, kind, and joyful young woman was the love of his life.
Although we have had to wait quite a long time for this day, I am thrilled to welcome Alex into the Korzeniowski fold; I know that you will both have a fabulous time, continuing to travel and to explore, to work hard and to enjoy your time together.
Treasure and cherish each other, and all will be well.
Happy birthday, Marysia.