in many ways, i don’t feel like i have many of the “conventional” mothering habits that seem to be the norm in our society. i am awful at crafts, and am no help to you with your art projects. i cannot stand shopping and would rather get a filling at the dentist than visit a mall on a saturday. i refuse to play up santa, the tooth fairy, or the easter bunny, since i view that as lying to you, even though everyone around me tells me these characters are all part of childhood. i made your aunt and uncle take you to the local children’s theme park, because the thought of being around a billion children on a 90 degree day, just to ride kiddie rides, made me more than a little queasy. i cannot, for the life of me, understand the draw of american girl dolls. this list goes on and on. you know. and i think you get frustrated with me sometimes. especially now that you are able to recognize these differences.
i don’t pretend to think i’m “right” in my ways. in fact, there are many days that i feel guilty for not sucking it up, and just doing some of the things that i think you’d enjoy. i mean, would it kill me to go to a mall every now and then? of course not. and yet, i choose to spend time with you in other ways. share in experiences with you that i find rewarding and renewing. is this selfish? maybe. maybe not.
here’s what i know:
i know that exposing you to outdoor experiences has taught you how to persevere. starting when you were four, we have had our annual hikes to huts in middle of the white mountains and spent the night. more than once, you’ve been the youngest person by a few decades. the hikes haven’t always been easy, and you’ve shed some tears. and yet, when it’s all said and done, you ask for more.
i know that bringing you along to my social activities has taught you to be comfortable in various situations. you are able to converse with adults about politics or current news events. and you can fall asleep anywhere!
i know that signing you up for a triathlon taught you bravery. you were certainly one of the youngest, and it wasn’t easy to swim, bike and run next to people twice your age. watching you cross that finish line was better than any race i’ve ever finished. you continue to be so proud of this accomplishment, and damn well you should be.
i know that treating you like an “equal” has taught you acceptance and friendship. i choose not to be so incredibly private when it comes to my body, and on any given morning, we stand in our underwear and get dressed and ready for our day. i tell you my day’s itinerary, and share stories of my friends and co-workers. because of this, you i feel that you have a sense of what i do while we’re apart, and later, you ask about my day, as well as these friends and co-workers, even if you haven’t seen them in months.
i know that bringing you to concerts has taught you confidence. this past weekend, we attended a music festival with 10,000 people. you navigated through the crowd like a champ. all day long. you danced by yourself. you see all sorts of people, and take it all in stride.
i know that i’m not the only teacher in this relationship. i know that i have a lot to learn from you too. i know that, as you get older, the things i’ve described above may not resonate with you. i know that i need to change and evolve, just as you do. i know that we need to work on ourselves, our own desires, and be understanding of each other’s needs. i know that no matter what, our bond as mother and daughter is a gift. i know that this gift cannot be taken for granted, no matter what challenges we face, no matter how much we disagree. i know that i love you more than i ever thought was possible.