To tell this story, properly, I am going to have to reveal my daughter’s first name, not her middle name.My daughter Rose(reallyKatherine), age 28, is a writer and human rights lawyer. She helped write the book, Guantanamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power. Did I always know she was going to be a writer? The first indication came when she was under two. We had spelled Katherine with a K because we intended to call her Katie. She stopped being Katie the minute she told me: “It makes me sad, mommy, that you call me Katie when my name is Katherine.” We never called her Katie again. How long had she realized her family did not know her name?Did she take weeks crafting such a perfect sentence that demanded and got perfect compliance?
Her dad Chris remembers: “Katherine has displayed single-minded determination in everything she has undertaken. She became interested in the planets when she was two. She learned not only the names of the planets and their positions, but also the names of all their satellites. She made up stories about the planets, and at one point every member of the family had a planet name. ” I was happy my name was earth.
She started kindergarten before she was five since she is a November baby. She absolutely refused to write stories using the words the teacher gave the class. “Writers use their own words,” she insisted. I deluded myself that I was articulate until I had Katherine.
Katherine is well known in political blogs as simply Katherine. Katie wouldn’t have had the same dignity. She started writing on torture and extraordinary rendition when she was in law school and didn’t want to make herself unemployable by revealing her full name. Try a google search on Katherine and “Obisidian Wings.”
Katherine once told me: “You are more responsible than any other person for my being able to write like this–in fact, it’s not even close.” I felt like I had received the Nobel Prize for motherhood. and have contributed significantly to make the world a better place. The entire family is in awe of Katherine. Yet she is the sweetest, most loving woman imaginable who has been an incredible support to me during episodes of my illness. She comes across as quiet and shy.
And yet Katherine’s brilliant intensity made her a very challenging child to mother. Thankfully, she was born at home, slept in our bed her first year, nursed for more years than I am willing to admit in a public forum. Because she was my third child, I was much freer to trust my instincts. She is also the daughter most like me. If I wanted to know how I was really feeling when she was a baby, I just had to watch her reactions.
My Katherine stories are often a great comfort to mothers worrying if their child is destined for sainthood or schizophrenia. In my post on my so-called normal children I described her: “The writer had meltdowns because the new washing machine wasn’t blue; the pretty blue rental car had vanished; her aunt and uncle didn’t have a second child her age; she was not attending a school that closed three years previously; there wasn’t enough snow; election day would be a day before her 18th birthday three years from now. Her tantrums were reserved for the existential order of the universe; I could do nothing to assuage her anguish. ” When I read her passionate poltical writings, I recognize the same Katherine, who has found the perfect outlet for her intensity.
Marrying the perfect husband at age 23 was the most important thing of all. Aren’t they a beautiful couple?