Monday, March 29, 2010

It was 20 years ago today...

... that my beautiful daughter Cassady Rose was born.

Just a few hours old with her very smitten daddy

3 months

TWENTY YEARS. How can that be? I can't imagine that I am actually that old, even as my 44th birthday rolls around next Saturday. The Saturday after, my eldest turns 25.  TWENTY FIVE!!! And 2 weeks after that, my youngest, my sweet baby boy, turns 18. EIGHTEEN!!! My youngest, an adult. And another 3 weeks after that, my beautiful grandson, child of my beautiful daughter, will be 4. FOUR!!! Birthday season is upon me again, and I am once again amazed at the passage of time.

But today, today is my daughter. My girl. My heart. The one I totally get, as hard as she is for others to grasp. My mother and I, we GET her. She is a free spirit. She always has been. She's flown by the seat of her pants, and lived by her own rules since before she was conceived. I was sitting with my husband one evening, looked at him, and I knew... my daughter wanted to come to me. Six months later, I learned I was pregnant. And I knew, knew I would have a girl. And then I woke up one morning knowing her name. She picked us. She is us. She is amazing. A wild, wooly girl who leaps weeks to months prior to looking. She speaks with conviction prior to thinking. She has paved her own way her entire life.

She was born almost 3 weeks late. I woke up in labor on a Thursday morning after learning of the sudden death of a dear friend the evening before. For some reason, she held on until he left. I knew the moment I heard of his passing that she would come the next day. I knew I wake in labor, and I did. Our midwives came early, and passed a long hard day with us. I was sleep-deprived from the previous day's news, and my energy flagged. I heard whispered discussions of transporting me if I didn't start making some progress. One of my midwives, Luna I think, went for recharge, and a friend made miso soup. My energy picked up, and we made it through. I rocked on hands and knees for what felt like forever to get her to flip head-to-back so that she could make an easier passage. Jim below me, talking to her, Michelle behind me, giving counter-pressure during contractions.

Oh man, that was a long day

I was almost fully dilated and pushing. My water broke, she flipped, Luna I think gave the order to lay down on my side NOW. From there, I remember just fuzzy voices of Luna by my feet giving direction to Michelle, who passed it on to Jim, who guided me. My very pregnant friend C'Dale, she of the miso soup, was in the fridge with the Ben and Jerry's when my dear friend Francine said, "Look at that face!" The BnJ was thrown into the freezer, "Face?! Where's a face?!" And my daughter was born. She was born with her eyes open. She looked around the room at her audience while her little wriggly body was still inside. Once she was out and on my chest, she looked around, stretched, sighed deeply and contentedly, and just snuggled into my shoulder. My daughter. I didn't even need to check... I knew. My daughter had come through to me. The first place she went was to our dear friend's funeral service in San Francisco. She was 3 days old. It was April Fool's Day. The irony; it burns.

Her first year flew in a dream-daze of nursing, and cuddling, and playing, and basking in mommyhood as I'd been unable to with my older son, now 5, who'd been born just a week after my 19 birthday, in a crap-ass relationship with a crap-ass 'man'. This was completely different.

She was a bright, bubbly, outgoing and fantabulous little being of light. She loved her Daddy beyond measure, even though I had the boobs! Sheesh!

6 months - mohawked little dumpling

                                                                                          First birthday

Her second year heralded changes brought incredible advances in language and sociability. She was talking in articulate, long sentences by 17 months. "Daddy, I believe I've left my doll in the car. Do you think you might be able to get her, please?" Too soon, her son would mirror that exact skill.

Second birthday with her beloved aunties

When she was two, she got a brother

His story next month... what a cute little monkey! I very carefully coordinated us. We are rockstars! And young... jezuhs, so young...

Two and a half, Redwood Park, Arcata, CA

She sang, she danced. My friend Tyme called her the humming baby. She was always always always always moving through life skipping and dancing and humming to herself. She NEVER simply walked. Her son mirrors this as well. She loved to be center stage. Loved loved loved attention, brought joy and consternation wherever she went, entrancing and frustrating, in the most charming and disarming way, any and all who crossed her path.

Seventh birthday. What a goofy frosting princess.

We had some serious fun in the 5-9 years. God, how I love those years! Such wonderful little loves they are! Connor will enter those years in one more year. Not to minimize the adorableness of 4, but man, 5! Sooooo helpful, so generous, so funny. They get jokes, they tell actual jokes, they just are so... big. Lovelovelove... She's certainly opened unexpected musical doors, and I learned all about swimming, a skill I never mastered. She swam like a fish. She sang like a goddess, she loved all kinds of music. From the Backstreet Boys to The Dresden Dolls, my musical horizons have been tremendously expanded by her. And we've always been advocates of going to live music. The girl was at 25 Grateful Dead concerts by the time she was two. 

Dancing with Sarah, who was in C'Dale's belly at Cassady's birth, thus why C'Dale was in the Ben and Jerry's. Last shows we saw before Jerry's death. Eugene, OR, 1993. Sarah's brother Ben in the foreground. Ah, good times with logical family.

And then, yeah. Backstreet Boys. She was almost 10.

They were actually soooo good that I bought her the coolest, most expensive shirt, and made her daddy take her back the second night. They had a great time. Even Dad. LOL!!!

She's gone through several incarnations in the years since. She's loved punk, she's loved indie, she's loved alt-pop. She's cut her hair almost off, she's bleached it, dyed it blue, purple, green. She's pierced lots o' body parts. The nipple was the hardest for Mommy to contend with. Lips, tongue, nose, belly button... I'm completely inured to face metal these days, along with gauged ears. 

Funky glasses, and funkyish hair

Happy and breathtaking

Weird anti-mullet and super-sweet frames

Pixie and faux fur

Momentary interest in fixed-gear bikes at 18

Brief flirtation with "I am an anarchist punk"

Nineteen -- yeah, that's my kid. No doubt about it

She loves her boy. She was barely 16 when he was born. He entered the world on Mother's Day 2006. She had a natural birth, with midwives. She caught her son herself. He was 8lbs, 12 oz and perfect.

Brand new boy

She loved him and nursed him, and tried to deal with the trauma of Connor's father simply vanishing when she was 8 and a half months pregnant. He'd been solid all the way through, and then, BAM! New girlfriend, totally absent. As he has remained. She started sort of coming and going. She went to family in Washington to try and get her feet under her. Connor stayed with us. He was 5 months old. She came back, and tried some more. She just simply couldn't do it anymore by the time he was 20 months. She loves him, she spent time with him almost every day. But the day-to-day ins-and-outs were just too much for her to manage. She did the hardest thing, and the truly good-mom thing; she admitted her limitations, and asked us to care for him. That had been part of the deal when she chose to have him. We'd be here, no matter what. She went to Portland to try to make her way. She came back after 3 months, and tried to get herself together here. Michigan is just not a good place for my darling. Too much yuck. Too small for such a decent-sized city. Too much history. Doesn't matter what she does, to many all she'll be here is 'that dumb bitch who had a baby at 16'. Not fair. My poor girl.

Last fall, after a horrendous summer, she went to California. She went to find her way among family, and lifetime friends. She's found a way of living that is meaningful to her, that allows her to be exactly who she is among people who love her for just exactly that, where here, she is denigrated and demonized for being exactly who she is, and thus has not been her authentic self since she was about 11. Her authentic self is emerging strong, she is competent, she is truly finding her way. The one thing that keeps her from being totally whole is that her boy is still here in Michigan with us. But she knows that it would be selfish to try to take him on as her own again at this point in her life as well as his. For her birthday, she asked for a ticket home for his birthday. I'll be purchasing that gift tomorrow. Connor is beside himself. We haven't seen her since September 4th...

Birthday last year! Three! He's three!!! She had just turned 19.

Birthday ice cream. 

Last trip to the park before she left.

The boy she left...

... the boy she's coming back to...

... and the Mommy that's coming back to him. 

My daughter. My one and only baby girl. Truly a young woman, strong, self-directed, breathtakingly beautiful, and as an old, dear friend commented to me after meeting her for the first time since she's been in CA... "... a delight. A whimsical delight."

What more could a mama hope for? She is the girl of my dreams. Good dreams and Mommy-nightmares alike. The girl of my dreams. More my girl than I ever could have imagined, or believed possible. 

Two decades I've been her mama. What a wonderful ride it's been...



My darling Cassady, 

"Faring thee well now. Let your life proceed by its own design. Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours I'm done with mine, done with mine..."

Love you more than words can ever, ever convey. Happy twentieth birthday. Next year, the Meanwhile!


NOTE: This should have gone up yesterday, March 29th... took me that long to figure out how to correctly insert photos.

1 comment:

rachel... said...

Thank you for sharing Cassady's story. I hope you all enjoyed her birthday and her visit!

March 29th is also the birthday of one of my daughters.