I think of her often yet write about her sparingly. That's because I feel like it would be awkward for a teen daughter to have a mom who writes online. So I choose silence. Yet she's in my heart all the time and to neglect her here seems to leave the blog terribly unbalanced. I wonder if she reads it, notices her absence and thinks that I don't love her.
There are moms of teens and adult children who can write about their growing and independent families with great sensitivity and skill. Perhaps I just have too many emotions wrapped within the blanket of my mother/daughter relationship. It is like a rare gift that I don't easily open.
Maybe it's enough to start with a milestone. Today Emily took her ACT exam. It's hard for me to believe that soon she'll be out of high school and making her way in the world...
I still keep an entire wall of her childhood art. Now that she's not my tiny, curly haired toddler or my sweet kindergartener, now that she's not playing soccer at the Y or meeting friends at the playground, she's still the same in so many ways. She's maintained the same sweetness in the way she gives hugs and the kindness in her voice when she says "I love you mom." She's artistic and intelligent, compassionate and funny.
People say parenting is hard. It's not hard in the way you might expect. It's not hard because it takes time, patience and resources. It's not hard because there are sometimes conflicts and power struggles. It's hard because children are destined to become independent. It's that paradox that is the most challenging: that we must give them the tools to survive on their own. We must be attached and at the same time let go. So I can't hold her on my lap or sing her lullabies. I have to hold her in my heart and be there in a different way.
How can I begin to write about my children and not be sentimental? They are the brightest lights in my heart. The ancient dilemma of how to write about the emotion of love still exists. I suppose poets can do this well through a carefully chosen metaphor. I don't have a metaphor for this thing called motherhood. It is joy. It is heartbreak. It is everything in between. My daughter is no longer a child. Yet I hope that she always will nurture the child within. The one who gave my life meaning and direction. The one who changed everything for the better, just by being herself.