Monday, July 30, 2007

She Made Me Who I Am

One July morning at 7:am, Gabi made me a mom. I wasn't quite twenty-one when she was born, and I didn't have a clue about what it meant to be a mom. I just knew it was what I was meant to be. My big fear as a teenager was that I would die before I had kids. I wasn't afraid of how I would die, or being dead, but that my dream of being a mother wouldn't come true. I must have wished on a lucky star!

She was born breach (and totally natural, I might add), folded in half, and she inhaled before she hit oxygen, leaving her breathless. The nurses worked on her for a few minutes and then whisked her away somewhere, without telling us anything about how she was. It was very frightening. Several hours later they brought her to me. I was so overwhelmed. Now I was breathless! For a couple of days I kept trying to say a prayer of thanks to Heavenly Father for letting me have her, but I couldn't find the words. I felt ungrateful just saying "Thank you, thank you" over and over again, but I think He may have understood.

Gabi came into my life only 18 months after Dee did. She's known us almost as long as we've known us! She helped us become US. She lived in our first tiny trailer home, our second less (but still) tiny trailer home; she rode in the VW and the Vega, and saw Dee as a soldier. She was part of our college life, and part of our pre-TV, pre-income days. We started leaving shoes out for St. Nickolas Day, and cookies for Santa because of her. She made us a family.

I read out loud to Gabi from the day she was born. Mostly I read Dr. Spock as I fed her, trying to figure out when she'd do something interesting. Dee laid on the floor with her for hours demonstrating how to roll over. It actually took hours of watching her movements, for him to figure out the steps of rolling over. He practiced with her for about six months until she caught on. We figured we'd taught her! We didn't realize that she'd come already programmed to do every important thing. We didn't have to teach her anything. In fact, she taught us.

I read an article about how to make your child a genius. It said to tie helium balloons to your baby's wrists and ankles, and their eyes would catch the movement and eventually they'd realize they were pulling the strings! I tried it, and it must have worked. She became a genius. She could sing dozens of songs, say the Pledge of Allegiance, recite poems and ask questions by 18 months. By the time she was two, I was asking her questions. She became my best friend. I'd even consult her about what I should wear! (She knew exactly what they were wearing at the laundromat, and milk depot, which were my usual destinations.) Her siblings started arriving about that time, and it was a joint project for us. I saw her as my confidant and support. She truly encouraged me, saying funny, cute things at crucial moments. My favorite was, "When we're all grown up will you be retarded from motherhood?" (Yes...retired, and retarded.)

She was an awesome babysitter, first for me, and then for many others. She became a nanny, and tended kids for weeks at a time while their parents traveled. She worked at a nursery school and daycare center during high school, and then majored in Elementary Education. She taught 6th graders who were taller than she was. She also taught Kindergarten and Pre-school. She was born to teach.

She met her perfect match, they got married, and they worked their way through college for a few years before they graduated. Being the perfect parental candidates didn't translate to being parents. While they waited, they built careers and houses and moved across the country. They traveled and had fun together until the other shoe dropped. They did become parents...twice in three years, and then again with twin boys...and they did it with a flourish! (Check out her blog for the inside stories.)

It's stunning to look at this woman whom I admire and respect so much, and realize she's my daughter! She sets an example of kindness, hospitality, charity, spirituality and energy that I can't come close to emulating. She changed me forever and I'll be forever grateful to be her mom.

Happy Birthday, Gab!


Stie: My Favorite Things said...

That was just beautiful - and I loved the pictures, especially the one of you and her. So pretty! She really is a great one. I feel lucky to know her. Great tribute!

mama jo said...

happy birthday to both of's your first day of being a mother also...she's a wonderful did great and she's doing great

rp said...

That is the most beautiful tribute mother to daughter I have ever read. Good thing I can type by rote, because I cannot see the screen just now. My first (and only) born changed me in just that way. He is my joy. And I am reminded that, for a little while anyway, I was someone's joy. Thank you.

marta said...

oma, you do it everytime! these photos are so sweet and what a pair of dolls you two are!! i loved hearing about the olden days with you and opa teaching her the ways of the world. what awesome parents.

i am glad you were a young mom with tons of energy because now you are a young oma with boundless energy. i hope you never retire from your endless ideas & clever antics!

this is an amazing tribute. how lucky we are to have you and her in our lives. i have a boat load of ready-made-friends, all thanks to you.

gab said...

thanks mom...what a great birthday tribute and nice way to start my 37th year! you are the glad i got you for my mom!!!

Joy Des Jardins said...

Beautiful, beautiful Marty. Happy Birthday to your sweet 1st both are very blessed.

MissKris said...

My firstborn was my daughter, too, and I was 22. We took her home to a tiny trailer home, and our Little House on the Prairie shack next after that. We also had a Vega. We also had a fire engine Red '66 Pontiac Bonneville that was half-a-block long and drove like a tank, ha! Those were our poor years, but -- oh my! -- how rich she made us! Happy Birthday to Gab...and happy Birth Day to you too, Marty! (((HUG)))

kenju said...

Happy Birthday, Gabi! What a nice tribute, Marty. You made me think of my daughters and how proud I am of them.

Gramafolly said...

What a beauty inside and out..

nadja said...


I followed you here from Gabi's blog.

The Dutch have a habit of wishing the parents well and congratulating them on their children's birthdays. I love that tradition, because it's really a celebration for both the child and the parents. So: Congratulations to you on Gabi's birthday, and on having raised such a wonderful person (I know, she had a bit to do with that, too, lol).

Marty: said...

Thanks for your comment, Nadja! If you have a blog, please let us know!

cannwin said...

Breach with no meds!? On the first child... that's proof right there that the pain fades. :)

My first was born 1 year and 1 month from the day I married my husband. My second was born 2 year and 1 month from the day I married my husband. Our life together will never be complete without them... or the children that have followed.

PS I love the name Gabi