When you have 5 kids, birthdays come frequently. In fact, all 5 of my children, who I’ve raised as a single dad and sole parent, have birthdays between August 2nd and February 17th. If you add in the holiday season, it’s been decades of continuous gift giving from the end of summer until the middle of winter. My last blog was dedicated to my middle daughter Rebecca on her birthday; today, I am writing my blog for my oldest daughter, Michelle. It’s her 27th birthday!
When Michelle was eight, her mother left us for good in a display of erratic, ugly, abusive and finally-diagnosed, personality disorder behavior. For reasons that I do not understand, her mother was particularly cruel to Michelle. I have learned personality disorders are such that the abuser finds the most vulnerable victim to attack. Michelle was the oldest and most aware and therefore she was the most vulnerable to the abusive behavior of her mother.
Michelle was a very smart, dynamic and aware child. I felt immense guilt over not protecting Michelle enough from the confusion, trauma, and shock by her mother who was controlling and irrationally over-protective for the first 6 years of Michelle’s life until she flip-flopped into being mentally and physically abusive and finally abandonment. Worse than my guilt, was my fear that Michelle would turn into Mary Ann Cotton (serial killer) or Mary Todd Lincoln (insane).
Fortunately, she is a superstar who’s personal strengths include a deep sense of charity and spirituality. Michelle, graduated from Millburn High School (one of the country’s best) with a 4.1 GPA, was a national AP scholar, and won the best foreign language student award. She went to Northwestern University and graduated (like her younger sister) early. She received a job offer from a Fortune 50 company during her senior year and is now doing PR for their Healthcare division. Michelle has learned so much from the mess that was her Father’s marriages and shows relationship wisdom well beyond her years. That is a wonderful outcome.
My lucky number has always been 27. My birthday is on a 27th and it’s going to be lucky for Michelle too. In December, at age 27, she is going to be married in Israel. She is marrying her long-time boyfriend, Ilya, who she met in college. They have already made it through being apart by long distances for years, the stresses of college and graduate school and starting new jobs in a new location, far away from family.
I wish I had the experience and wisdom then I have now because I would not have been in such mortal fear for Michelle and my failure as her Father. God knows his work and Michelle is in many ways, most like me (despite her frequent denials) of all my children. One particular quality we both share is that when the situation gets rough and life is beating on you, you bear down and perform at an even higher level. I watched her do that as a child, as a teenager and now as an adult. That quality is something I have learned to count on, and with God’s oversee, I believe that no obstacle or difficulty can stop things from turning out wonderful for her – and for me too!
Categories: Parenting & Fatherhood