I got my first wonderful birthday hug from my most favorite and wonderful daughter. And then I got hugs and an E-mail "Happy Birthday" from my parents.
More tomorrow...I mean, later today.
I LOVE birthdays, except for the part where you have to get older. I will let you know how it turns out.
OK, so I might get in trouble for posting this because I haven't requested permission, but I'm going to take my life in my hands and do it anyway. If you see no further posts from me, you will know that this was not a wise decision on my part, but hey, what is Katie going to do, kill me on my birthday?
A couple of weeks ago, Katie came home with an assignment from her English Class - to write about people who have influenced her life. I thought of a thousand different people she might choose for her subject matter, but honestly, that I would be in the line-up never crossed my mind. Katie knows and has been influenced by a plethora of people - many far more interesting and accomplished and talented than I could ever begin to hope to be.
When she casually mentioned that I was one of three women she chose as the subject of her essay, I was completely blown away. I was humbled. I felt unworthy, but so extremely thrilled and grateful. Katie and I have come a long way in 2 years - a tough two years. A lot of fence-mending took place. If you would have told me 2 years ago that I would be cast in a positive light and complimentary manner for ANYONE'S college English paper - I would have laughed and then cried, because I couldn't think of too many positive things that anyone could write about concerning me and still remain non-fiction.
This is probably the finest birthday present any mother, but particularly this one, could ever receive, and forgive me my dear Katie, but I just have to share it. I don't think the other two female subjects will mind, because I know they're pretty honored as well.
Here is what my incredible, precious daughter wrote, in her own words.
Three Feisty Women: Life Lessons
Many people have called me a "difficult" woman, and this isn't entirely inaccurate. If stubbornness and confidence make me difficult, then I will take it as a compliment. My mother will say I was difficult from day one when I was born and refused to breathe, but I disagree. I am a product of nurturing, not nature. I come from a long line of feisty women and have crossed paths with many hard-headed females. This isn't to say that my father or grandfather weren’t tremendous forces in my upbringing, but they were not cut of the same cloth as the women in my family. The woman I am, is because of my relationship with three of the most "difficult" people one could ever meet: my mother, my grandmother, and my co-worker, Vanessa.
My mother is first and foremost responsible for my feistiness. It has taken years for me to be able to admit that I am almost exactly like my mother. My parents divorced when I was 11, and although my father has always been part of my life, my mother is the one who raised my brother and me. My mother worked at various jobs to support our family, spending her nights working on her dream of becoming a writer. She finally found success when she landed a job writing a column on single parenting. My mother fought for that column, despite a lack of professional writing experience and no formal training. That column was everything my mother had dreamed of, and she would not take no for an answer. Watching my mother attain her goal taught me that my dreams are worth fighting for. Without the influence of one of the most persevering women I have ever known, I wouldn't be so adamant about attaining my own goals in life.
Although my grandmother can be a very challenging woman, she instilled in me that a good heart is vital. Growing up, we always had lots of pets. My grandmother is not an animal lover. When she thinks nobody is looking, however, she talks to our animals and makes sure they are happy and healthy. To this day she will not admit this fact. My grandmother always had high expectations of me, and although she devoted her life to being a housewife, she wanted me to be more. When I dropped out of college after a year, she began her quest of making sure I returned to school. Everyday she told me how important it was to graduate from school, not to please my family, but to please myself. Had she not pushed me every day, I probably would have avoided going back to school a lot longer than I did. My grandmother taught me that it's okay to be difficult on the outside, but not to allow it to affect your kindness; and that with an education my dreams will be that much closer to reaching.
One of the most influential people in my life is a co-worker named Vanessa. She is incredibly intelligent and assertive. In November of 2004, a fire started in my apartment, through no fault of my own, causing extensive damage. My landlord was livid and expected me to pay for the damages. I came into work despondent; I had lost my home, and now I was going to have to pay for it. When I told Vanessa of my plight, she had her husband look into my legal rights to find out what I had to do in order to avoid paying for the damages. Their advice was what I needed, and I managed to get out of paying for the fire. Without Vanessa in my life, I would never have learned to stick up for myself when I know that I'm right about something.
Society sometimes has a tendency to look down upon assertive women, often labeling these women as “bitches.” When I think about the strong women in my life and myself, I realize we are much more than a simple label. Hopefully our society will one day realize that strength is not a negative quality in a woman.
Katie and I live together, laugh together, and even work together! She is still my daughter, it's just that now she has evolved into being, in addition to more than I could ever have hoped for in a daughter, one of my very best friends. My partner-in-crime. And still the person who can make me laugh most in this world.
I love you, Katie.
When Katie asked her grandmother who was going to get the chicken she was obviously preparing - my mother nonchalantly answered, "Cassie, of course.". Katie found that a bit odd. Was it a special occasion? "No, but Cassie likes to have good food mixed in with her dog food - she won't eat her dry food otherwise, so I always fix her something special for dinner.". Katie said this was told to her as if it was a silly question to even ask. Well of course it's for Cassie - God forbid Cassie would have to eat a frozen pizza when she could have fresh off the stove chicken!
I think that means my mother just came out of the closet. Officially. I guess after 82 years, she is finally embracing her animal-loving side. I think it also means that Cassie has eclipsed the humans in this house in terms of "pecking" order and I guess that literally makes her "Top Dog". Well, when you're 82 years old, you really shouldn't have to defend your actions, even if it means you cook dinner for the dog every night while the humans try and get by on cardboard pizza.
What a crazy house we live in. It really is a zoo and the animals are running the show.