Be warned. This post contains a whole lot of rambling about nothing.
I cleaned the house for the first time in a long time. This time, I delved into getting rid of all things, or attempted to. There were drawings by the kids circa 2003. Handwritten notes and cards circa 2002 on. Every piece of lego, drawing, note brings back memories. The little boy and girl who used to roam through these rooms, singing, crying, shouting with joy or pain or annoyance. The chatters, the clatters, the busy drama of childhood used to fill this house which is now quiet, having outgrown of noises.
I found a note written by what I presumed to be by my daughter, elementary age. It was a letter to her then best friend. She told her how she liked being invited to spend the time at the girl’s house, even though it wasn’t a birthday or help with homework. She told her how she imagined being asked to go play at the girl’s house whenever she sat home alone, bored. She told her how she loved being invited more than a visit to Disney World or any amusement park. She told her she would think of bringing a gift to the girl next time she saw her again.
I imagined my little girl writing this note. The girl who never complained or whined about “feelings”. I never knew she even felt for things like this. I never knew her to be lonely or longing to for sleep-overs and invitations. I knew she enjoyed playing at the girls’ house but I never knew how deep she felt to belong somewhere.
My heart broke a little for the elementary school girl. My heart longed for that little girl, who has long since grown up. I felt wrong to say this, but I grieve for that little girl, my little girl. It’s a selfish grieving, I know but nonetheless, I felt it.
When she went away to college last fall, things did not go like I had expected. I knew she had wanted to move away, to seek her own adventures, but I never imagined how well adjusted, or lack of attachment to home she would feel. This sounded ridiculous but it felt real to me at the time, that it was as if she had been biding her time to leave home and be “herself”. I felt like I did not know this new girl who lives in California, and is enjoying every minute of it. Although I am very happy for her well-adjusted life, there is small selfish part in me that says, please need me still, please chat with me still, please let me mother you, please let me smother you as I’ve done for the last 19 years. But the minute we turned around and walked away from her in the dorm’s hallway, as she too was walking away from us, while I looked back, she never did. Her steps were bouncy, her hair swinging with each step that took her away from us. She never glanced back, just like she never did at the day care or the kindergarten.
That was my girl from Day One. Quiet but fiercely independent and adaptable, and ready for whatever comes her way. Zero anxiety. Full on anticipation of life.
To be honest, I was more than hurt when we couldn’t talk to her for weeks, or when she did not text or call or chat after we left her in California. She is an adult now, who does not need her mommy for advice. She found her people there, the friends who love and accept her as one of their own. The acceptance she was looking for in friends came to her over there. She’s involved in activities with her dorm as well as with two of her dance teams. When I visited her on campus, we would run into people who greet her warmly. This is no girl who sits in a corner alone and lonely.
It’s shameful to admit that I was needy and selfish to want to be needed. I raised a little girl who poured her heart into a letter, who asked for a friend to invite her to play in such a sweet grateful way. I raised a girl who now lives across the country, who (I hope) is finding happiness in her own way, who is making friends, gaining invaluable experiences, while being very independent with her life choices.
It’s a new territory for me: this new adult child with her newly gained independence and assertion of it. Sometimes, I don’t know what to do or what to say. Sometimes she’s a stranger with strange ideas. I look at her, the way my mother sometimes look at me. A look of sadness (for the past that is long gone) and puzzlement and pride. I don’t know what holds in the future but I hope we can grow to be friends, as well as parent and child. I don’t have a model to look up to. I never became “friends” with my mother. But I sure hope I will find a way. It’s the saddest thing when your adult child does not like you as another adult.