Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Daughter

While we’ve built a solid routine around putting The Mayor to bed, getting Rooster Girl to sleep is more haphazard.

We have the best intentions about reading to her, but we don’t always do it.

Rooster’s routine is more casual; often she just drains a bottle and passes out in your arms.

I know I am supposed to put her down awake to teach her to put herself to sleep and all that, but I get sort of mesmerized by her little sleeping form in my arms.

She absent-mindedly opens her mouth and sucks at my t-shirt, perhaps remembering the days of nursing.

I can’t help but stare down at her and wonder what our relationship will be like as she grows up.

The mother – daughter relationship being as fraught as it is.

When I look back on my own teen and young adult years and think about Rooster Girl coming of age I just cringe.

Overall, I have turned out all right I guess, but I made a LOT of mistakes and did things I am not proud to claim.

All the while, I shut my mother out and took her for granted.

In high school, I used to keep a diary.

One day I wrote about the high school drama department wanting me to wear ugly and ill fitting costumes in my role as Gypsy in our spring musical.

I was upset about it so my mother took me to an upscale fabric store to pick out patterns and material.

She made every costume I wore in that play.

She also worked full time.

In the next entry on the very next day, my diary entry is a scathing collection of expletives describing my mother because I didn’t get my way about some unimportant crap.


How could she stand me?

How did she not go insane?

I suppose now that I have Rooster Girl I know the answer to that question, but I am almost 40.

I feel sad that my own mother had to wait so long for me to understand.

How might I endure years of a crappy relationship with Rooster if she turns out to be, like her mother before her, slow to grow up?

Not to mention that I am a generation older than my mother was when she had me.

I might not be around long enough for Rooster to come full circle.

So when I hold Rooster in my arms as she falls asleep at night, I admire her sweet face and think about how much I love her.

I worry a little bit about the way that, as a second child, she doesn’t get the constant dual parent admiration and worship all the time, every minute the way her older brother did.

I feel guilty that she’ll never be able to speak or write because we don’t read to her every night.

I try NOT to think about the alarming way that she spreads her legs on the changing table and how she relentlessly tries to capture her brother’s penis in the tub… could it be foreshadowing of her sexual coming of age?

God, I hope not… though I suppose if it is then she would just be the next descendent in a long line of fine women who also found the penis intriguing…. ;-)

Mostly I worry that we won’t be close, that no matter how much I love her, she’ll push me away.

I’ll have to remind myself, when the time comes, that she is supposed to push away, that it is a normal part of growing up.

I’ll have to learn to be patient, wait for the day she needs me again and, like my own mother, be there.

This is my mom.



floosen said...

Just beautiful, Jess. I remember so vividly that beautiful picture of the mermaids that you did representing the generations of women in your family. You have thought long and hard about your identity as a woman in your lineage. I've learned that no matter how late in life we have these realizations, it's never too late.

Love you,


Mel said...

Oh, that's just great. Make me cry at work.
Mothering daughters is a rough, rough road, I can totally agree with that. And I often wonder what Really Rosie and the Mack will think of me in their adult lives... and all I can do is love them now, with all I've got, all that is in me, and hope.
Yep, still teary-eyed. Dammit.

jennster said...

your mom looks awesome.. and damn this was an awesome post. *cries*

Mel said...

And? You've been tagged. Uh-gain. By me. For another meme! HA!
(Blame Jennster; if she hadn't shunned taggage over in Mrs.Fortune's comments, she woulda taken the hit.)

theresa said...

Great post. I did one on my daughter yesterday. Mother/daughter relationships are so different and complex...but worth it.

theresa said...

Yes you did answer me without even knowing it! Your mom looks like such a sweet person.

Kristin said...

what a wonderful post.. yet, yikes! so thought provoking.

my daughter already challenges me in ways my sons have/do not...

jan said...

My daughter and I have a great relationship as adults, but when she was thirteen, I did not one thing right for the whole year. I had to get better from that low point.

Sayre said...

I don't have a daughter, but I do have a 7 year-old son. Lately it seems like all we do is argue. It's very frustrating and usually ends up with tears on both sides. Then I had a little epiphany. With five brothers of my own, I don't know why I didn't see it. My son is disconnecting from the mothership and becoming his own person. He is much more than my son now and he knows that now. So he is pushing me away: don't hug me when we get to camp: I want to stay and play with my friends; I want Daddy to play with me - not you!

It feels personal but I know it's not.. He's just trying to find his own two feet and stand on them.

Love the post, Jess. Ever since father's day, I've been ruminating on parenting. Looks like I'm not the only one.

tpon said...

OK, so I have secretly been fearing the arrival of a girl-child for all of these same reasons... it would be so much easier to have another boy. Boys I can do.

I adore my mother... NOW.

It is like you read my mind. Scary in there, huh!??

Painter Beach Girl said...

You will have many more feelings like this as your kids grow!!!! It is amazing how motherhood helps us realize what our parents were doing in raising us, and the reasons they were a certain way. Stepping into other's shoes for sure!! It is also good to keep an awareness to change what we dont agree with, I am sure doing that with my own kids!

GrandmaSeattle said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
GrandmaSeattle said...

Thanks for “our” story. Remember the time I put a lock on my bedroom door so I could lock it when I left and prevent you from borrowing my clothes. I had gotten so tired of the argument we had when I would find my clothes at the bottom of a heap on your bedroom floor. I was proud to have “thought out of the box” and prevented the problem from continuing. Hope you always think out of the box to solve the inevitable arguments with Ruby – and may you always love her as I have always loved you even when you are so frustrated with her that you can and do SCREAM!


Nice blog... went through a previous post about you arguing with your son and made me think of my boy...