Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A mother’s reflections on her daughter’s birthday November 16, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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EVEN AS A BABY, she was fiercely her own person.

Miranda didn’t snuggle. She cried way too much. In those early months, it was sometimes tough being her mother, dealing with a colicky infant while also nurturing my first-born, only 21 months older.

But that all seems so long ago now that my second daughter is turning 26 today.

Miranda and her dad, along the shore of Lake Winnebago near Appleton, when we last visited in October.

Miranda and her dad, along the shore of Lake Winnebago near Appleton in High Cliff State Park, when we last visited her in October.

Where have the years gone? I have asked myself that often this past year—the year in which my eldest daughter married, my 19-year-old son moved to Boston to attend college and my middle child, Miranda, is now edging away from 25. In many ways, it’s been a tough year for me as I adjust to life as an empty nester.

But then I consider my three and I can only be happy for them, proud of the independent adults they’ve become, seemingly content in their lives.

Take Miranda, the birthday girl. She’s lived and worked for the past three years as a Spanish medical interpreter in Appleton, Wisconsin, 300 miles from Faribault. She possesses a deep passion for her work and the people she serves. And there is nothing more noble in a job than to love what you do and to serve others.

Although I’m not privy to details due to patient confidentiality, I know Miranda has dealt with some difficult situations, interpreting for patients in hospital emergency rooms, physicians’ offices and elsewhere. It takes a special type of person to remain calm and professional and compassionate in the face of emotional stress and/or trauma. My daughter is all of those.

As a little girl, Miranda was all girly girl, wearing only skirts and donning ribbons in her hair. She also loved horses, including her stick horse, shown here in a photo taken when she was 5 1/2.

As a little girl, Miranda was all girly girl, wearing only skirts and donning ribbons in her hair. She also loved horses, including her stick horse, shown here in a photo taken when she was 5 1/2.

I wonder, sometimes, if that core strength and heartfelt empathy come from her own experiences. At age four, she underwent hernia surgery. Even now I can visualize my darling curly haired girl walking down the hospital hallway to the operating room, Big Bird clutched in one hand, the other hand held by a nurse. My preschooler never cried. I did.

And then, years later, she was diagnosed with scoliosis (an abnormal curvature of the spine) and wore a full torso back brace 24/7 for a year. That time we both cried at the diagnosis. But Miranda soldiered on and never complained although I know it had to be difficult for her. Life’s challenges often make us stronger.

Miranda is undeniably strong and independent. She’s studied, interned and vacationed in Argentina. On her second trip of three to South America, she was mugged. Not assaulted, thankfully. Thousands of miles away, I felt utterly helpless. Miranda managed, with the help of friends and my assistance back home, to work through the situation.

I need only look back at the baby and preschooler she was to see the roots of her independence and strength. I remember how, as a preschooler, Miranda would tell me to “go away” when she was playing alone in the toy room, now my office. So I would turn around and walk away, only semi understanding her desire for solitude.

That, I suppose, was the beginning of the letting go. As mothers, that is our ultimate goal—to let our children go. It is not easy, but that is our job from the moment they are born. I eased Miranda onto that path of independence early on, as much for myself as for her, by sending her to bible camp every summer, supporting her decisions to go on multiple mission trips (including two to clean up after Hurricane Katrina), sucking up my own worry and enthusing about her time in Argentina, and now, even though I wish she lived nearer than 300 miles away, accepting that she’s happy where she’s at in her life.

Now, on my daughter’s 26th birthday, I reflect on this beautiful young woman her dad and I raised. Miranda is a woman of faith, caring and compassionate and kind and giving, and, bonus, a darned good cook. Whenever we visit, she treats us to delicious home-cooked ethnic food. She worked two summers in the Concordia Spanish Language Village kitchen near Bemidji, where she learned to cook. I failed her in that skill.

But I succeeded where it counts, and that is in raising my girl to cherish God, family and friends and to pursue her passions in life.

Please join me in wishing Miranda a happy 26th birthday.

Happy birthday, Tib! I love you now and forever.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


28 Responses to “A mother’s reflections on her daughter’s birthday”

  1. treadlemusic Says:

    Birthday blessings, Miranda!! I am absolutely sure that all of the above qualities were passed along to her from 2 people I’ve gotten to “know” over the past many months who engender those same attributes. The blessing for the parents is when the off-spring embraces them as their own and continues on their life path expanding and growing far beyond the limits of those values we hold dear. Hugs and blessings to you and all your beautiful family, dear Friend……….

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Oh, Doreen, how sweet your words. Thank you.

      • treadlemusic Says:

        Your tribute speaks volumes……about Miranda and you and Randy. I know we are all different for a reason (a bit scary if we were all alike!!!!) but I often think it would be nice to be a bit (lot??) more mellow rather than “full steam ahead” type!!! LOL! DH would just ‘scream’ with laughter at that statement!!!!!!

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        I hear DH right now. Yes, that’s him rocking laughter this a.m. at “full steam ahead” vs. “mellow.”

  2. Birthday Blessings and Beautiful Post:) Happy Saturday!

  3. What a wonderful thing to write… She is as blessed to have you as you are to have her!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Ah, thank you. So sweet. I do feel incredibly blessed to have my three children, now grown adults, plus a new son-in-law (the eldest’s husband).

  4. What wings you placed on your beautiful children.

  5. Miranda Says:

    Thanks for the sweet birthday post, Mom. I was really a styling 5 year old. Lol. Love you! 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      You were a styling 5-year-old and still are. Now that I know you’re awake, I’ll be calling to wish you a happy birthday. Love you, too, Miranda.

  6. Dorothy Bowman Says:

    Happy Birthday Miranda, Good luck to you in the year.
    Uncle Robin and Aunt Dorothy

  7. Jeanine Nistler Says:

    Excellent expression of a mother’s love!

  8. Marilyn Says:

    Happy Birthday, Miranda. Re letting our children be free to be themselves: “Relationships-of all kinds-are like sand held in your hand. Held loosely, with an open hand, the sand remains where it is. The minute you close your hand and squeeze tightly to hold on, the sand trickles through your fingers. You may hold onto some of it, but most will be spilled. A relationship is like that. Held loosely, with respect and freedom for the other person, it is likely to remain intact. But hold too tightly, too possessively, and the relationship slips away and is lost.” Now that is deep wisdom.

  9. hotlyspiced Says:

    What a lovely tribute and what wonderful words, Audrey. Happy 26th birthday to Miranda. She certainly sounds like she’s a very independent young woman. And what a job she has! I remember when I was nursing we would be so grateful to the interpreters as it’s amazing how often people who speak not a word of English come into a hospital. You’ve certainly had some times with Miranda with her surgeries – tough times for mums, definitely xx

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I can only imagine how grateful medical staff would be for an interpreter. Miranda has the quiet way about her which I’m sure is comforting to those for whom she translates.

  10. Jackie Says:

    What a lovely tribute to your dear Miranda. I hope you were able to have a nice phone call today with your birthday girl!

  11. Thread crazy Says:

    What a beautiful post – birthday wishes to a your incredible daughter, and she has such a beautiful and talented mother. God’s blessings to you both.

  12. hilary Says:

    A little late, but a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Miranda! She sounds like such an amazing girl. I am sure her difficulties (hernia and brace) are what allows her to be such a support / help for the families she translates for…

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I think there is much to be said for personal experience translating into empathy and compassion.

  13. Happy birthday, Miranda – a little late! 🙂 You are so blessed to have the family that you have.

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