Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Control Freak. Who Moi?

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” 

This quote from author and educator Elizabeth Stone is one of my all-time favorites. It rings so true to me. For the past fourteen years, I have been less than whole. My very center lives in the next bedroom over.

This was fine when she was always accessible. I could hold her, hug her, kiss her to my heart's delight. Alas, those days are over. My daughter is her own person and she is not one to suffer foolish mothers gladly.

Most of the time, I walk around dazed and confused. The love of my life has moved on (not literally, of course, but attitudinally) and I am bereft. Once in a while, though, I am able to see the world through her eyes. This morning, for example, I had a moment of clarity and here is what I observed ...

My daughter's mother is a control freak.

Really, it's true. This mother's dressing room is right outside my daughter's door, and she waits there, listening for the alarm clock to go off. Once it does, she can't just finish getting dressed and mind her own business. Oh no, she has to loiter and say inane things like, "Good morning, sweetie. Did you sleep well?"

I'm not quite sure who this ridiculous person is. But, she looks a lot like me.

For the next thirty minutes or so, this overbearing mother feels compelled to nag my daughter about pretty much everything. Here are just some of the incessant questions and directions that come out of her maternal mouth:

"Make your bed."
"Put your pajamas in the hamper."
"Can you bring that bowl with you when you come downstairs?"
"Do you have your English homework?"
"Do you have your Math homework?"
"Do you have your Social Studies homework?"
"Do you have your gym clothes?"
"Take your vitamin."
"Finish those strawberries."
"Put your phone away."
"Do you want me to call your Music teacher about that assignment?"
"Don't wipe your fingers on your jeans."
"Your hair is tangled."
"What time will you be home?"
"Eat your bagel."
"Wear a hat and scarf."
"Go brush your teeth."
"Hug, please."
"Bye honey. Have a great day."

OMG! Who is this person and when did I become her? 

When I stop and listen to myself, I have to give my daughter props (credit) for putting up with me at all. Her answers may be monosyllabic (and there is certainly some eye-rolling going on), but she isn't completely making fun of me. Well, not to my face.

Seriously, though, is this who she thinks I am? Because I am really much more interesting, independent and just plain cool than my breakfast banter would lead one to believe. So how did we get here?

My daughter's at an age when mornings are unpleasant have-to-haves. Her approach is to get through them in silence. 

Ay, there's the rub. To this mother's ears, her silence is deafening. It is a preview of the years to come when she won't be here anymore. So, my instinctive reaction is to fill that silence. But, I think I'll try and embrace the quiet next time. Maybe we can be together in it. 

Whenever my daughter is particularly ornery or moody, I remind myself that she is going through a perfectly normal developmental stage. She is stretched between her past as a little girl and her future as a woman. She is struggling with all of the changes in her body and her world. And, I try to understand and empathize, shrug it off.

My dear daughter, I'm also struggling with these changes. More than you will ever understand — until, that is, you have a daughter of your own. So, the next time I start nagging, you have my permission to shrug it off too.

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