Ten years ago, some of the top songs were "Kryptonite," "Oops... I Did It Again," and "With Arms Wide Open." It was the end of the 20th century; it was the end of the millennium. It was designated as World Mathematical Year. The Republican National Convention had just ended, and despite his nomination as their candidate, I did not truly believe George W. Bush would ever take the oath of office. Sir Alec Guinness died. It was the "Year of the Golden Dragon." Millennium babies, in retrospect, would outnumber those born in the years immediately previous and immediately following; it was a baby boomlet for the year 2000. X-Men, The Perfect Storm, and The Patriot were playing in movie theaters across the country. Earlier that summer, you might have enjoyed Scary Movie or Mission: Impossible II. This was, after all, long before Tom Cruise jumped on couches and went a little bit crazy.

Ten years ago, Saddam Hussein was in power, and so were the Taliban. The World Trade Center towers still stood in Manhattan, and no one had ever driven a plane into the Pentagon. I had, just two months before, dreamed of a plane going down in a field, a field and a setting I'd never seen. I wouldn't see that field, in Pennsylvania, until September 11 the next year. Katrina had not yet hit New Orleans, soldiers had not died in Iraq, oil had not plunged out of the Gulf of Mexico, we had never had an African-American president. When there was a presidential election, we knew the outcome before sunrise on Wednesday. If we wanted to listen to music while we exercised or merely walked down the street, we need a Walkman or a Discman. Napster was huge. No one had tweeted. Some people had cellular phones, but a lot of people didn't.

Ten years ago, I was nineteen, and all that that might encompass. I knew exactly what I wanted, and like any good college student, I knew absolutely everything. Except, perhaps, organic chemistry, but I knew enough about it to pass the class. I hadn't been on a horse in months; I didn't realize it would be years before I would be again.

Ten years ago, on a sunny Saturday, at 8 am, I pushed out one tiny (7 lb 1 oz) baby girl, sitting in a hospital bed in Cobb county. It was the last time I'd have a child where all of the grandparents would meet the child on the day of birth. I put her on my bare chest immediately. I felt both exhausted and exhilarated.

For ten years, I've had the privilege to watch her grow. In the beginning, I tried hard to be both parent and student. Two weeks after she was born, the fall semester started. I remember someone asking me where I had gotten a baby; needless to say, I hadn't been showing much during spring classes. Life had a rhythm, busy though it was. We did our best.

She showed an understanding of sets at barely two; I knew, somewhere, what that meant, though I never anticipated her tackling algebra at age nine. She loved to nurse, though I never expected her to wean two days after her fifth birthday. She loved to be read to, and I wasn't surprised when she read early. She has sung, she has danced, she has been serious and silly. I cannot sum her in words.

In the end, I'll quote Loudon Wainwright III. That's my daughter in the water - who'd've ever thought her?


Daisy said...

Happy Birthday, EG!

Sara said...

What a beautiful tribute to your daughter. Ten years ago I was also in college but had absolutely no idea of what direction my life was going to take. I lived selfishly in the moment and children weren't even a passing thought in my mind. I commend you for the difficult task of being a young mother. I don't know if I would have had the strength to do it at that time. Today I turn 31, have one daughter 5 and one on the way and I still question my strength and capabilities daily. I tip my hat to you.

the cat said...

Thank you sharing this story this way. It is a beautiful little bit of words.

I was 19 ten years and one month ago and having my first child, too. Happy birthing day to you, and happy birthday to EG.

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