I was driving home from Ventura last night. My daughter had a late dental appointment. The sun was low in the sky and I said, “do you want to head to the beach and watch the day finish?” She of course said yes.
So we got to the beach and they had this elaborate film thing set up. While curious about what was going on, we were having so much fun. I am not sure what got into us last night but both of us were in great moods and I was being especially funny. Not that I can pull that off all the time…I can’t. But last night, I was fucking hilarious. Don’t believe me? Ask my fourteen year old daughter, the people at the dental office, the two guys working at Starbucks and the check out lady Lindsey at Target. They can attest, I was vibing funny hard.
I am not sure if that is what did it or whether it was just universal time but my daughter told me things. Deep things. Personal things. Things that I will not repeat. I will admit I thought we were just going to watch the sunset, take a couple of photos and she would film me on the sly and put me up as a joke on Tik Tok or Snapchat. I was unprepared for the honesty that rained down. But fuck, I am so grateful!
I am not sure what I did to deserve the relationship I have with her. I am not sure what I am doing today that makes me approachable and a worthy confidant for her, but I am fucking grateful. I am so amazed by her every day. Who she is, how she shows up in the world. How much she cares about people, animals and her family. I don’t know why I got to be her mom, but I did.
We grew closer last night. In a time when teens are slamming doors literally in our faces, she opened hers. She threw it open and showed me some things that were hard for her. And I did my best to listen. Even so, I talked too much. Life long peril of mine…too much talking. And every parent knows that if your teen is talking to you, shut the fuck up! And listen.
We listened to Limp Biscuit on the way home and laughed at the lyrics and that I knew them all. She looked at me as if she could kind of see my former self, my younger, way hipper version of me and you could tell she couldn’t make up her mind as to whether her version of me now and then matched at all. It must be so hard for her to reconcile me with the drunk I used to be and then the young, carefree sober person who lived a very full life and took no prisoners.
I found myself wondering last night if she looks at me more in disgust or awe? Which version does she see and how does that affect her? I could ask, but would likely be told to get over myself and that she doesn’t really think of me at all…but I know she does. I can see it in the way she looks at me sometimes…
I pray that she sees my struggles. I pray that I have done a good enough job being open about my life but not so much that she feels trapped by my past, trauma and recovery. I hope that she sees it but it doesn’t own her. I do not ever want my story to overshadow hers. Ever.
I do want my experience, strength and joy to radiant around her as a life boost, my struggle being able to lift her higher than I started. Allowing her to stand on my shoulders to reach heights that I could have never dreamed of when I was her age. She is starting out better than I did. Way less fucked up, way less traumatized. She knows who she is while it has taken me a lifetime to figure that out.
I have no idea what kind of job I am doing mothering. Except on nights like last night where she willingly wanted to be with me. When she told me intimate details of her life without regard to what I might say or do to her. She told me anyway. And we had good conversations about it all. She shared her life with me and that is not an easy task for any teen, hell, it isn’t easy as an adult either.
I am going to take our morning sunrises and last night’s sunset walk and talk as evidence that I am doing ok as a mom. She let me in. And I will never take that for granted. It is permission for me to help her even though I walk a very fine line drawn in the sand, the line between holding on and letting go.
She is not mine. She is a recipient, an observer of my life in motion. She sees the things I want her to see and she sees the other stuff too. The not so pretty stuff, the dysfunctional stuff, the stuff that I would prefer no one see. But she loves me and trusts me anyway and I can’t help but think my willingness to be real, to be present and to share the ways I fuck it up, the ways I fix it and the steadfast belief that I still have no idea what I am doing somehow grants me access to her interiority. I can never dwell there, nor would I want to. For now, I am honored and amazed to ever get a VIP pass to her life.
And I am thankful for it all. The talk, the walk, the setting sun. The daughter that I love with all that I am. I am so grateful to be HER mom. And I am even more grateful that she is my daughter. My kids are the best work I have ever done. Both of them. They are evidence of all my efforts, most especially spiritually. And I know, that they have never been mine. More I theirs and that my station and place in their life will wane…so I find myself in the enviable position of soaking up every single minute that I get to spend with her/them.
And I can’t help but take it all back to that day in March of 1995 where I didn’t want to go on. Where I didn’t want to live anymore but decided to try anyway…I would have missed it all. Thank you God. Thank you for giving me the strength that day to move forward with all my panic, fear, dread, shame and remorse because that day led to this one. And an evening like yesterday really does make the work I have done seem small in comparison to what I got because of it. I hate the phrase I am blessed and favored. But today, I can see it. I feel it and I am so fucking incredibly grateful for it.