I leave behind a child who is at odds with me and is currently breaking my heart. But I go because staying will only prolong both our agony. I remember this time, where I pushed and pulled at my mother’s heart strings objecting mightily to the tightness of her apron strings...
She came to me night before last - crying. She was sad about how she was treating me and the distance between us. I was glad she came. She worried that I would leave without saying goodbye. I would never leave without saying goodbye. She wouldn’t let me in but she did let down your sentinel teenage barrier if only slightly. She woke next morning in ruin. Unable to stop crying and feeling saddened by her own conduct and words. I had already forgiven her. It is ok. She is supposed to act this way. It is supposed to be hard, all the good things in life are hard. Always.
I miss her but know that the time apart will do us both good. Each our own time to reflect, our own time to sit with the hard feelings. Her to let go of this very tenuous hold she has upon herself. Her needing time and space to trust that love is right there for her, as is love and faith. Me, I need time to re-evaluate this other child, this you child that is my daughter. I have spent a great deal of time evaluating and re-evaluating my son. He has gotten the best of my time and attention while she bloomed silently in my shade, his shade. She asks for little and appreciate less. How could she not? It is hard to appreciate things that she doesn’t feel worthy of having.
I will use this time to view her from a new angle. To see her path as one of her own. To allow her to grow up and make her mistakes. I will not hover, helicoptering over her, stifling and suffocating her until there is nothing left of her. However, I will not move far. I can’t. I am her mom. I love her with all that I am. I see her and I love her but I do not own her. She only entrusted to my care and the time for that is drawing to a close. Not yet, but the apron strings do not stretch, they bind and pull in places where they used to provide only comfort. One day they will pop and split apart, untethering me from my role as mother/leader and trusting that I gave her what she needed to soar on her own.
It is hard to let go. She will find out one day when she mothers her own children. How they feel like yours, how they are made of your flesh, your blood, your tears, your body, your sweat and worry. But she too will know one day, that which she can’t know now, that it is very hard to know when to let go and when to hold on. Most especially to your children.
Right now I am doing both. Letting go but remaining close by, which I guess is a form of holding on. The delicate balance never quite right. Always and forever off kilter and askew. Love is like that, never perfect, except in its imperfection. Those are the moments you keep, the ones where you lie in bed with your daughter as she refuses to tell you the truth. You hold her while she cries, as she wants to unburden herself but stands firmly in her own way. And you as her mother must hold onto your discipline, even though the bulk of you does not want to. Hold onto the hard line, trusting that you drew it for good reason. Even though in moments when you lie holding your crying child, you can’t for the life of you remember why you drew that line, that deep, right there...
It is those moments where nothing is resolved but it is all ok, where you realize that the moment is poignant with pause and heartbreak and loss and fear and love, so much fucking love, that is the perfect moment. Not when it is all going as planned, not when it is all good and smooth, but when it is feels totally fucked and the tears stream down your face and you can’t stop them...and you don’t even want to. The love leaks out and spills into a mother’s bed, full always of children grown but always little in your memory. Holding tight to the lives that you helped bring into this world...holding on while letting go. It is a delicate balance, one that feels like it is your undoing and your becoming all at once, and the pain of the dis-ease feels like it might kill you, but you know it, like all moments, will pass onto to another day and another time and you will only have the memory of your woman child clinging to you tightly in your bed. Crying tears that are part and parcel to growing up and growing older. Love leaching out your pores so that you are not drowned by your own emotions. Loving and grieving while letting go and holding on, feeling dragged and released all at the same time.
For me, that is what it is to mother love..exquisitely painful and beautiful all at once.