Monday, November 9, 2009

(Bitter)sweet 16

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.

6 comments:

  1. Rachel turned one last week. 16 comes too soon. Very glad mine is still my extension, and hoping she becomes as tall an aspen as yours--the roots are always connected.

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  2. Yep, I had read your post and agreed with the "extension" feeling. It's strange how that changes a bit when there's more than one. Hope you guys are all doing well--I don't see you much even though we live so close by. We're attending the Spanish ward anyway til the end of next summer.

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  3. oh wow! i don't know how i missed these comments.

    Gita! nice to see you here. ONE! that was fast. is she losing her chub? it goes so fast :(

    you know, i had discussed the extension feeling with other moms i know and said they didn't feel that way. I figured I must be a more controlling type of parent than they are or it only feels that way to single moms.

    Apparently, both of my theories are wrong.

    I just can't imagine having a baby to nurse and care for 24/7 and not feel like they are part of you.

    Congrats Jessica! and happy birthday baby Rachel

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  4. ps

    B, you should set up a proper handle for commenting under. I didn't realize it was you right away.

    M

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  5. mommy...i love you! that was awesome!

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  6. My daughter became less of an extension of my wife in her early teens.

    My my. It was around 16 that my daughter started getting more "I want to learn it myself". That worried me at the time, because that could lead to some bad things.

    At 17, she was so disruptive at Church, we let her stop going. Some thought it was weak of us as parents not to be able to find obedience, but I could see force or coercion would make it worse.

    But, in general, she has done very well the last 8 years.

    Mel, in some ways I wish you were a neighbor. Somethings I can directly relate with in your life.

    -Mike H.

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