Thursday, March 22, 2007

A mother's moment

i'm home today with my sick daughter. This is one of the few things I like about working straight commission. When I'm needed at home, I'm there guilt free. My daughter is rather stoic, but this morning she was crying. The last time I saw her cry over pain was when she had to have an electromyogram for nerve damage. The combination of needles and electric shocks just sent her over the edge. Before that, the last time was when she was truly a baby, crying over ear infections. This kid never cried over scraped knees, sprained ankles, migraines or the dozens of blood tests she's had, but this morning, a combined kidney, bladder and urinary tract infection was just too much to handle.

A doctor's visit and three new prescriptions later, we were home, and she was lying in my lap getting a back rub. Finally, she became drowsy enough to sleep. A couple of hours later, she's curled up on the couch with one of our dogs at her feet. I hate that she's sick, but now that she's a teenager, part of me is glad she still wants me when she doesn't feel well. I feel like she and I have a pretty good relationship. Not only do I love her completely, but I genuinely like her. She's the sort of person I'd seek out to be my friend, and I'm grateful God placed her in my life. We talk about things that I would never have dreamed of discussing with my mother. She's not ashamed to do things and go places with me, and she doesn't mind if I chat a bit with her friends. Well, not too much.

That said, I'm still a middle aged mother, and she's still a teenager, and we do go nose to nose sometimes. We hurt each other on a regular basis, and I do embarrass her frequently. This is just part of the territory of raising a teenager, and for what I gave my mother, I'm due a lot. I also know that she's only going to have two more years at home, and then college and the real world where I will be a weekly phone call and occasional visit (if I'm lucky). This is right and natural too. I know that however little face time we will eventually share, I'm going to be a huge part of her life forever, as she will be for me.

Opportunities are opening for her, and it's important to me that she take them. She's been invited to attend Lead America and Presidential Classroom this summer. (If any of the teachers who read my blog are familiar with the programs, I'd love to hear your take on them.) I just have to figure out a way to get her there. Both are beyond my budget, but we will find a way. The womanchild is smart, strong and feisty, and I want her to see that there's so much more to life than what's in our tiny town. I want her to believe that she really can achieve what she sets out to accomplish, and right now, that belief in herself is sagging. That she struggles with this is painful to me, and I blame myself. I still struggle with the belief that I can make things better for myself, and that comes through no matter how hard I try to hide it. However much I struggle with belief in myself though, my belief in my daughter's ability never wavers. The kid's got what it takes to do great things, and one of these days, she will soar.

I don't want to be the cliched empty nest mom though. As much as I love my daughter, I don't want to live through her. I want her to have a rich and rewarding life, and I want the same thing for myself. Some of my efforts to rebuild a life for myself sometimes come across as selfishness. I will stake my claim on my time, my interests and my privacy even when it's not convenient for the womanchild. That claim is even stronger when it affects the husband, the rest of the family or the job.

That's why C's desire for my attention and comfort when she's ill mean so much to me. I want the reminder that I am a good thing in her life. I know that both intellectually and emotionally, and having her in my lap, sleepy head on my breast, completes the triangle -- mind, spirit and body joined as one in motherhood again. These moments are fleeting and need to be preserved.

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Blogger Gannet Girl said...

Beautiful post, and so true. It makes me miss my own dd just to read it.

March 22, 2007 7:18 PM  
Blogger sunflowerkat said...

All this resonates so deeply with me. Having one daughter in college and one with two years left at home, I feel what you are saying. It is a bittersweet time in life.

We have to make the preparation for the time when they do head out on their own. Part of letting them fy is being ready to be more independent ourselves. It's not selfish, it's self care. And, it's important.

March 23, 2007 8:00 AM  
Blogger Cecilia said...

I know that feeling... of having children who are growing up and away (as it should be) and the gratitude for their willingness to be loved and cared for when they need it.

I loved this post. Thank you for sharing this snapshot of your life wiht us.

Pax, C.

March 23, 2007 10:33 AM  
Blogger Kimberley McGill said...

Beautiful post. My children have been on their own for a while now - I miss them sometimes and other times I enjoy the new quality of my life without them. You are so right to say you want "a rich and rewarding life" of your own. The transition was a little tough for a while - I couldn't even remember how to cook for 2 (I raised 4 children and feel like I fed half the neighborhood too - they had so many friends!)My children and I still have those tender moments - you won't lose those.

March 23, 2007 1:46 PM  

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