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Mornings and Mothering

It dawns on me from time to time that I apparently seek out books to read that have an element of mother/daughter relationship. Perhaps as I struggle with the dynamic that occurs between myself and my own offspring, I wonder if actually it is more all about the struggle that still continues between myself and my own mother.

Can I actually forgive myself of whatever missteps I have taken with the upbringing almost entirely all on my own of my now seventeen-year-old daughter if I don’t forgive my now long-dead mother. Have I already done that via years of therapy that started soon after her death. Can I ever forgive her for the mothering I didn’t get. And what does forgiveness mean anyway? Forgive and forget? It is all right that you did whatever you did? You were wrong, but it’s OK anyway? None of that sits well with me now as an older adult who took decades to even acknowledge the issues and problems and situations that for the first half of my life I thought I had created by not being this enough or that enough.

So, now I try to help my daughter sort through her own adolescence and late teens and early adulthood. I have tried to instill a mother’s love no matter what. And she still snaps and snarls, doubts and wails, cries and dreads, avoids and blames, pushes and pulls, damns and longs. Does it just happen no matter what a mother does? Whether there is a warm, nurturing maternal presence or not.

This morning was another perfect storm of parenting and teenage conflicts. Rising late, she is pressed for time. Wake earlier to alleviate that stress? No, sleep is too treasured for this night owl. Picture day. Another layer of stress; what to wear, how to camo a pimple, a mosquito bite, why does my nose look bigger when I smile (so don’t smile, I counter—that’s stupid you have to smile is the reply), need a tank top I have only a wife beater and that’s stupid. Wear a camisole since they will be draping you anyway. What’s that? I explain, no, they said tank top or tube top, yes, I reply, but draping means and then proceeds to explain it as I understand it … stupidly buying into this whole exchange. If I don’t she will have a complete meltdown and cry and end up going to school even later than she is already. and I don’t have any cash to give her and I don’t want to anyway since she will just use it on a cab. She asks for my help in many ways, and then rejects them as stupid, I don’t understand, that’s dumb. Needing to know her interest in pursuing an expert’s help for her college essay. In a matter of moments, it gets reduced to she crying she will never get into college, she has no interests, she is boring, she’ll go to a stupid community college.

So off to work I go, wait for the train that is delayed and read more of Rebecca Wells “The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder.” The final pages of the mother’s death, and the funeral and time immediately after including a letter M’Dear wrote as final words of advice for her dear and loving family. The rage of a sixteen-year-old losing her beloved mother. Tears roll down my face, my nose runs. I don’t know who I am crying for.

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