You Don’t Know What It’s Like

Some days I look at my girls and I can see the future. Glimpses- fantasies really- of our future mother-daughter relationship. I see in them, parts of myself, that become our common passions to share.

With Kaya it may be us in a café in Italy, hands cradling espresso, as we chat easily about books and photos and writing. Today’s “Mommy, does ‘cat’ start with a ‘c’ or a ‘k’?” will be tomorrow’s “Mom, you have to read this book! I need somebody to talk about it with!”

With Brennyn, I imagine she’ll have convinced me (not that I would ever need much convincing) to meet her in Cambodia. Today’s crinkled nose and mischievous grin of delight at stealing the remote control will be tomorrow’s crinkled nose and mischievous grin of delight as she sticks out her thumb to hitchhike our way out of the jungle.  I should be angry, or at the very least annoyed, but I am too busy being amused. She just has that way about her.

Other days I look at my girls, see parts of myself in them, and I want to cry. These are the hard parts. The growing pain parts. The life lessons part that I worked so damn hard to work out only to have them resurface in my kids. Making it all the more painful.

With Kaya it is her shyness. That innate reaction to turn inside herself in public situations. She has been this way since day one and I suppose I have been too. Thinking of the insecurities and frustrations that lie ahead for her feels like being punched in the gut full force. It makes me so sad to know how brilliant and funny she is but that others will not realize it. Not at first. It is like being an injured athlete watching their team from the sidelines. Standing back and having to watch is so much harder than just reacting to the adversity hands on. Maybe the lessons I have learned will help me to encourage and support my girl. Or maybe my lessons are still being learned through her. So unfair!

With Brennyn it is her temperament. Oh how I see my impatience in her. Her stubbornness. I remember fighting with my mom just for the sake of fighting. I would battle for hours on an issue that I didn’t believe in just so that I could prove my mom wrong. Even knowing she was right. Was that me asserting my independence? Where is that line that guides my girl to independence without letting her have her way and walk all over me?

Parenting is hard. I assumed by the time I had kids, my life lessons would be learned. Now I find out I am only living them again, through my kids. I call bullshit! And they are just 11 months and 3.5years. They can not yet formulate into words, “Mom, you just don’t understand!!” (add in a whine or a bellow depending on which kid is stating it), even though I often feel as though they are thinking it. Already.

Only I do get it girls. Not that you will ever believe that. Not until you have your own kids. And I get that you will have your own unique issues to deal with as well. To pass down also. Such is life. Such is family.

Which is why I am going to close my eyes, take a moment, and escape to an Italian café and Cambodian jungle. I’m going to enjoy, just for a moment, the best of me being passed onto you girls. Then ignore all that other stuff. That growth, life learning stuff. I suspect there will be many, many, many years to deal with all that ahead of me.

Oh girls, if you only understood…


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