16 years ago, my little Petunia came into the world. I was just three years older than she is today.
Now she’s asking to drive the car and buying undergarments from Victoria’s Secret. We talk about boys and drugs and stupid girl tricks. We laugh together–though not enough. Yell at each other–way too much. And cry together– at the stupidest things.
Harsh as it sounds, we are not friends. I am her mother and she is my daughter and the roles we play defined who we are to each other. Ours has mostly been a relationship of survival and necessity. Of frugality and pragmatism. Sure, we love each other, but our lives are not full of demonstrative love. And we’re very close, but we have a clear understanding of each others space and boundaries. Softness was a luxury that I couldn’t afford and safety took priority over idyllic childhoods.
I have always considered Petunia to be an extension of me. And who could blame me? First she was inside me, then at my side when we slept and at my breast to be comforted. Later she would be behind me in the car seat when we traveled and beside me in the bed where we read. She stood at my side when I married N and she stands near me when we talk about the things of life.
Because of our circumstances, we have always been together, me making a home for her and both of us growing into adulthood. Many years have passed since it was just the two of us and I have finally reached that time when I am forced to realize: She is no longer an extension of me.
And so, while I lived my life in a way that would teach her to be a kind person and I trained how to be polite to people and I showed her what it takes to be a person that will go into the world with confidence and awareness and skill, I now have to admit that our relationship isn’t “about me” anymore.
It’s about her now.
Now it’s my turn to stand by her side as she grows into the young woman that I helped to create.