Tag Archives: teenage daughter

Sweet Beautiful

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Fawn

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Dig-dabity-nab. Dang it. I deleted a love letter to my daughter. Thankfully I texted it to her already, but I wanted to record it for posterity. Sigh.

Can’t remember how this particular conversation started. But I asked her if she wanted me to tell her what I thought of her because she obviously was under the impression I thought poorly of her. (Mom mistake #382,789) At least that is what she said. When I asked her if she wanted me to tell her what I thought of her she said, “No, because you will be mean.”

Texting her from 3,000 miles away I chuckled at her youthful naivety and assured her I would be anything but as she would see, and I proceeded to list qualities to my daughter that I felt encapsulated my little deer. I say little deer because she has always resembled a fawn to her father and me. Remarkably she said a few people in her high school told her the same thing. To me, that is her inside skittishness shining through.

The following is not an exact rendering of my words, but it is an exact approximation:

Dear daughter,

You are heartbreakingly sweet, and you hide it.

You are quick with a comeback and smart when you want to be.

Artistic.

Mean as a snake when you feel pushed against a wall.

You have a poetic sensibility.

Love you, Mom

When I didn’t hear back from her I asked, “Do you think I’m right?”

One word – “Yes.” Then again the deer runs into the forest. She now lives across the country in California, I live in North Carolina. When she was at home our screaming matches sometimes reached baseball stadium decibel proportions. I think the Bobcats, our local basketball team that seems to lose a lot might want to hire me for their cheering section. Easily my screams could drown out the other team’s cheering section, although I’d probably smother the sound of sirens as well which would create a safety hazard.

I attempt to justify my cavernous mouth and huge vocal capacity (that’s what we call it now) by telling my children that my volume is in equal proportion to my love. “It’s oversized, baby!” Not once did either of them buy that excuse. I’ve seen enough Dr. Phil to know I have damaged my children with my rantings. I’ve justifiably gotten mad at them but I’ve also lost composure when I am actually mad at myself, yet did not realize it until after I’d “set them straight.”

I mean, you name it I have done it. Well, OK, not anything illegal but you get my drift. So when my daughter said “You’ll just be mean” when I asked if she wanted to know what I thought of her, her reticence to hear might have had a shard of truth. Maybe I yelled too much? Too critical? I’m told this by both of my children.

“You’re critical all the time, Mom!” my son or daughter will say. I am aware I have this flaw. (It’s so minor really, if you keep turning the mirror it practically disappears.) I’m sort of mean to myself sometimes so I know my tendency would be to be mean to others.

But geez. I mean really, what do they know? They’re just teenagers. Just children.

A couple of babies, really. Sigh.

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Not a Perfect World

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Even though my 18-year-old daughter and I live a country’s width apart, she in southern California and I in North Carolina, we still argue.

I’m not bragging, just stating a fact.

Often I drift in my reverie to when she was about  three years old and we walked neighborhood sidewalks hand-in-hand. I could still choose her clothes back then, and I am telling you she looked cute. There we’d be, walking together with her croaking out her little-girl questions about the world.

I wonder how the years passed without me managing to teach her another language (ignore the fact I only know one), how to play an instrument (no I don’t) or sending her to sleep away camp (I did go and it is one of my best childhood memories.) I didn’t go swimming with her because I was too self-conscious to get into a bathing suit.  Sometimes she pleaded with me to get in the neighborhood pool with her, once or twice I did. The joy in her voice when I came in was unmistakable, “Mom’s coming in the pool!”

But, it was once or twice, max. She then resigned herself to the fact that I wouldn’t play with her in the water. I also didn’t teach her to cook (I can cook but I have with no patience, and I married a would-be chef.)

Now it’s gone. Her childhood is over. My sweet son is 15 so his is still here, but fading fast.

There is a new waterpark  nearby; I’ve seen the advertisements. Everybody is having fun! Laughing as they slide – arms in the air – and tumble-down gigantic water slides. Oh my kids would love that! I want to take them there and watch their open-eyed amazement and feel their unabated, unabashed delirious innocent joy!

I want to take them to the beach and see their little arms and legs work furiously to fill and carry buckets of sand to the water. Stupefying concentration is required when burying a younger brother up to his neck in the sand. Then swelling pride for both when only his head is suspended above the shore. A laughing smile and his big brown eyes full of triumph would dampen only briefly when his sister shrieked, “Don’t move!” if a finger or toe sought the sun.

I hate passing time. Stop! Make the time stop so I can have just a while longer with my babies.

This great divide between my daughter and I began opening when she was 12 or 13. First a crack, then a crevice, then a canyon. Now I try to build a bridge, a little at a time. When I say “build a bridge” I mean see her and speak to her as more of a grown-up than a child. Patiently wait for the time she can answer me like an adult.

I can see her trying. We both are making inroads. A call back after exchanging harsh words. A patient text after losing patience. I think back to our closeness, how we would huddle and cuddle in bed talking or reading a book. If I had my way, I would still huddle and cuddle with her. But she’s not my little baby anymore.

Just my baby. Always, my baby.