She's reaching this point in her life where she's becoming, at last, a fully formed person full of opinions and thoughts and mistakes of her own; and here I am on the sidelines, attempting to connect in some meaningful way and failing desperately.
I suppose to really understand this problem we have to go back in time a bit. We've well established at this point that my own upbringing was not, by any standard, what you might call good. Growing up with a mentally unstable mother is difficult, and I never really had that mother daughter bond that seems to come so naturally to people. She suffers from some horrific blend of Narcissistic personality disorder, BPD, and a totally robotic lack of empathy; lets just say that the hugs and late night chats about life and womanhood were not precisely forthcoming.
I was so utterly terrified of turning out like her in some way that I vowed that I'd never have children. I wanted the flawed genetic code that made her the way she was to die with me.
But life happens, choices are made, paths take unexpected twists and turns, and now I wear the title "mother". It makes me uncomfortable. I feel like by calling myself that I'm taking on responsibilities that scare me. I don't mind the nurturing, the teaching, the love - but its that word that frightens me.
“Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.”
- William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair
Part of the problem here is that I simply have no idea what it is like to be a 14 year old girl. I just had other things to worry myself with when I was her age, and watching her turn down food because she simply doesn't want it, or agonizing over an outfit, or dying her hair, or going to the movies with a boy... its completely foreign to me. I feel like I'm in another country trying to explain to a stranger why in America we drive on the right side of the road. It all seems so arbitrary and I'm just lost at sea without a paddle.
She looks at me with this face that says "God mom, you're so old and out of touch."
I guess we never feel old on the inside. We're always that child just coming to awareness, growing, changing, battling the shifting landscape of our lives. I want her to see that part of me, be a friend to that girl I am on the inside - but instead I sit here awkwardly afraid of cuddling on the couch and watching movies with her because I'm afraid that her love and affection is somehow a lie and I'll get hurt.
My mother fucked me up inside - and I just don't want to do that to her.
So Rooster ... Consider this my resignation.
I don't want to be your mom anymore. I want to be your friend. I'm always going to tell you to do your chores, and yell at you when your grades falter, and make shitty comments about the boys that you like. But, I'd do that to my friends too. It's because I love you and I want you to succeed. And one day, we'll sit over cocktails agonizing over your breakups - and that will be fine too. Just know that I'm scared. I'm terrified for you - terrified that I'm going to infect you with my neuroses and you'll be sitting somewhere one day over a cup of tea wondering how you wound up a mother and trying to figure out how to not mess up your childs life. You're an amazing person and I'm so glad to know you. I'm proud of you every day and I'm grateful that you've stood by me as I've grown as a person and attempted to be the kind of person that chooses happiness. I know that my choices don't always make you happy - but know that I make them because I want to teach you that doing things for yourself is important. That you never have to choose to be unhappy. That it's okay to reach and strive and grow and change and want more ice in your soda. Just be who you are because that person is wonderful.