Apology to my daughter on her birthday

It wasn’t that long ago that my daughter was one of the founding members of  “Daughters Against Mothers On Facebook.” Both of my children have, on occasion,  been less than pleased to show up in my postings and blog over the years; Dan will just blatantly delete my comments and Abby has often called, starting the conversation with “MAAOOOMMM! The blog!!!!”

Two days ago I find this on my FB page:


Hmmm. Well, anyone who has been around here for long knows how I feel about this child because I have, in fact, posted about her on every birthday and often in between. I usually preface the millanteria with disclaimers about her alien status, how she was switched in the nursery, so forth and so on. Because to me, she is frankly and delightfully remarkable in a way that has no genetic resemblance; although in recent years, many people have commented that we bear a close physical similarity, I still don’t see it.

So you already know that she was a chess champion at an early age, a master diver, a daredevil, a bold and curious child, multilingually fluent and that she is now working away on her doctoral degree at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. You know that she was truant her entire senior year of high school, that she dyed her hair Bozo the Clown red and then glued it into dread locks, that she jello wrestled for laundry money as a college freshman. Together, we kayaked the Inside Passage, hiked through the rain forest of Nevis, scuba dove in Honduras, zip-lined in Costa Rica. And I could still go on and on.

Instead, I’ve decided to make this birthday post an apology. At 25, she is old enough that I can admit my failures and she will take them in stride, rather than read them as a reminder of the times her mother was a total flop. I hope. So, here goes.

Dear Abby,

I would like to apologize to you for the following ways in which I failed you as a mother, along with all the other ways that aren’t noted here.

1) I’m sorry that I dressed you up like a doll, a character out of a Merchant Ivory production, a color coordinated fool.

I now realize that, in the end it caused you to dress like this:

and submit my name as a candidate for What Not To Wear.

2) I’m sorry that I forbid you to sell magazine subscriptions in middle school to anyone but your Grandma and Grandpa.

3) I’m sorry that when you subsequently had your name drawn from a fishbowl and won a prize for selling one subscription that I screamed at the school principal for giving you a five pound Hershey Bar.

4) I’m really sorry that I said your teeth were fine and you couldn’t have braces. I did it both because of financial pressures and because I was too busy to be bothered with orthodontic appointments. I know that you really wanted them and that you have always held this against me. If you still want them when you are thirty I will pay for them. I’ve started saving.

5) I’m sorry that I wrote letters to the editor of The Ann Arbor News about the idiotic sex education program that caused your teachers to talk and cause you still further embarrassment among your friends. I thought that instead of teaching about “outercourse” they should be teaching about relationships, but I now realize that didn’t warrant sarcasm and inflammatory remarks about the Board of Education that would come back to bite you in the derriere.

6) I’m sorry that I called Maggie Klein’s mother and said that I thought all of you girls were running a small pot business out of her house. Even though you were.

7) I apologize for repeatedly referring to your first serious boyfriend as “The Putz”, making fun of his smiley face boxers that I could see because his pants were always falling down and that I would tell him you weren’t home when he called. I’m glad that, even as a happily married woman, you are still FB friends with The Putz.

8 ) I’m sorry I conned you into attending a parochial college for a semester as a form of rehabilitation for generally miscreant behavior between the ages of 15-18. It was a crummy experience for you and you were the very best student in Ancient Greek, acing all the exams, even if that pastor flunked you for poor attendance.

9) I am truly sorry that we spent so much of your college savings on one semester of private parochial college that you had to pay your own way through your last two years of undergraduate school.

10) I’m sorry that I couldn’t shut up at your interview at Reed College and wouldn’t stop telling the admissions officer what an incredibly good fit you were for their program. I’m glad you didn’t apply there. Along with that, I apologize for all the times I’ve embarrassed you by bragging about you in public and I’ll try to stop, someday.

11) More than anything, I am sorry for anything bad I ever said about your father, true or mostly not, because he was and is a great dad and children should never be caught in the middle of divorce conflict, even though they always are. Fortunately, even back then you had the good sense to think for yourself.

The other things- not teaching you how to apply makeup, not letting you have clothes with AF logos on them, finally, one time, swatting your bottom for running naked across the street to the park, repeatedly, to swing tummy down on the bucket swings- well, I’m not so sorry. Most of all, I am so very proud and happy that, despite the ways that I flubbed up, you have turned out so perfectly, quirkily, uniquely, wonderfully you. ¡Feliz cumpleaños!, Abigail!

12 responses to “Apology to my daughter on her birthday

  1. I have sons so do not have the experience of raising a daughter. Mothering a daughter must be one of the most frustrating yet rewarding experiences there is. Well said; the love just shines through the words. And a very Happy Birthday, Abby. When and if the day comes that you have a daughter of your own remember what goes around, comes around. 😉

  2. Ah… she reaches the year 25… Happy Birthday Abby! Nyssa follows in four months. And there have been times when you thought she would never make it to 25… right? But they do. I don’t know about you Vicki, but the hardest thing has been to let them go days without trying to call them… keep saying… “she knows how to get in touch with me…don’t hover”… and repeat that over and over. At least Abby is in the same state as you are most of the time.

    Growing beautiful, strong, women daughters makes this thing called growing old much more tolerable.

  3. My two favorite Abby stories are the pot-selling business and the jello-wrestling for money. Oh wait, and the time she threw lettuce at you in a restaurant. She’s a pistol, as they say. Happy birthday to your girl. xoxo

  4. I second Mary’s favorite stories! Happy Birthday to Abby from me! Wonderful stuff, mom.

  5. Beth Ann Choate

    OMG – she is definitely an Aller, she could be any one of us!!! YEA

  6. HAPPY Birthday, Abby. I am surprised that your mom can remember all the ways in which she embarrassed you – since I can’t remember with my girls – although I’m sure they each have a long laundry list. The one thing you must remember is that your mom loves you beyond all reasoning (as I love mine) and it will always be that way. Once you have children, you will begin to understand – and forgive.

    And SRP is right – we love growing strong, beautiful daughters (and we do it so well, don’t we?)

  7. Happy Birthday, Abby!

  8. Sounds like your daughter is an independent minded woman who has always done what she’s wanted regardless of what others wanted or said. Wonder whose side of the family she takes after. Hmmmmm.

    We have an opening here at the Big House for a new head football coach. If there are any good candidates out your way, pass on the word. We Wolverines fans are loyal to a fault, so long as the coach wins (the big ones in particular).

    Hope you have a splendid 2011.

  9. Good golly, this was a hard post to get to.
    Blogger told me multiple times it did not exist.
    At last …

    Happy Birthday Abby!

    I think holding a live alligator completely negates any fashion faux pas’s’s’s.

    Works for me anyhow.

    And Vicki,
    I just hope you learned something from all those “mistakes”!

  10. Ah, she’s beautiful, Vicki! Congratulations!

  11. What about lying to her -there are not, nor will there ever be “Restaurant Police”

  12. I can’t believe she is 25. Holy crap-where has the time gone. And no way did sweet little angelic Abby have a pot business-NO WAY!! She is a sweet girl and always has been. To this day she is the only one to have ever referred to me as “lovely Suzanne”

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