Mother's Day #4

Seems as of lately there have been plenty of back-handed jokes along the lines of, “You’re in for it with that one!” The reference to that one is, obviously, my daughter. She is willful, and contrarian, sass-mouthed, and rebellious. We are, without a doubt, neck-deep in the quagmire of preschooler defiance.

And yet, the peanut gallery commentary cautioning us to prepare ourselves for her teenage years really irks me. In fact, while I laugh it off publicly, deep down, I get kind of ragey. This quip of an observation serves no purpose – not a single one. It’s tossed into the universe with a laugh, but falls like rocks on the shoulders of a mama who doesn’t see, like you, a future riotess. Why do the behaviorally appropriate actions of a 3.5 year-old immediately qualify her as someone who will cause so much trouble?

She’s testing the limits. Her identity is stronger now than when she was a baby, and therefor she’s learning to pull away from us in an effort to be independent. It has, for me, been the most difficult stage of her childhood to date (yes, even including the newborn phase). There are opinions to manage, and fears to acknowledge, likes to incorporates, and hard boundaries that rest on our weary backs after long days at work, and house care, and groceries, and cooking, and taking out the garbage, and existing.

It would be INFINITELY easier to concede defeat when she digs in her heals over what X-factor is important right this minute. So much easier. And while there are plenty of times that I weigh the worthiness of the fight (sometimes, many times – it’s not worth it), Mothering isn’t in the dealings of being easy. That became excruciatingly clear on day one. I take my role as her Mother, quite seriously. And like a lot of other mothers out there of strong-willed young ladies, we’ve realized we’re not just raising kids – we’re raising leaders and innovators, scientists and illustrators, chefs and moguls. We’re raising bookworms and senators, teachers and makeup artists, anchors and musicians. We’re raising writers and presidents, Elizabeth Warrens and Angela Davises, Frida Kahlos and Virginia Apgars.

But to get there, we’ve got to get through the riot right now. The arms-crossed, peanut butter sandwich demanding, foot-stomping, screaming tantrum time-outs of the day-to-day. We are traversing the landscape of Joseph Campbell’s well noted Hero’s Journey. The ordinary world is long gone (possibly forever) and we are into the realm of the special world where there are allies and enemies, ordeals and rebirth. Sometimes it’s hard to tell for whom the test is – she or me? My best guess is it’s for us both.

My position in Lucy’s life is not to quell that which fuels her, but rather help her harness that fiery spunk. Encourage her to discover what her legacy will be. Mark Twain is the author of one of my all-time favorite sayings: "The two most important days in your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why." I can’t tell her what she is meant to do – that’s not my job. It’s her life to live, hers to figure out. I’m her mama, the proverbial wall against which she will bash herself, as well as hopefully, lean against when she’s tired. My singular premium for being her mother, for investing in her well-being, for championing her spirit, is, in simple terms –  to have the privilege of watching her live the life she wants. To see her smile the kind of brightness that radiates from a life fulfilled.

On Sunday I will wake up next to her sweet face (I need to sleep in your bed, mama) as she points to the window and announces that it's morning time, mama, and she will give me a card she made (it's a surprise so she's already told me so). Perhaps there will be a few other acknowledgements, and a sunny day spent together while Big Red grills some steaks. Me and my girl. The girl who made me a mother. 
I’m not in for it with this one.

I’m in it, proudly, with her.

No comments: