Saturday. I navigate the small streets of suburbia. My 12 year old is in the front seat next to me, intermittently staring out the window and at her phone. I’m talking at her, and she occasionally rewards me with monosyllabic grunts. She doesn’t dare meet my eye, might it be mistaken for faint interest.
Our elbows are eight inches apart, and she’s somewhere far beyond my reach. My realization is sudden and paralyzing — I’m losing her.
Sunday. I’m in elusive pursuit of spending time together. The opening credits of a respectably-entertaining, age-appropriate movie roll by, as I plead over my shoulder for her company. Fearing to seem desperate, I proceed to watch the movie alone. Follow-through being the parent’s punishment, she taunts me with distant laughs in her room.
Monday. She’s in throes of this week’s mid-school-life crisis, and as a parent, I can’t possibly understand her plight. I channel my best aloof-self, tossing her an occasional, “So what then?” while scrambling leftovers into a meal. She’s talking, which means that my performance deserves an Academy Award nod, or at least an Emmy.
I side glance at her in wonder. People say she looks like me. I don’t see it. She’s all tan-legs and giant-eyes, and I’m just pale. She asked me once if that’s a compliment, and I tried not to cry. But for the record, yes, it’s a compliment that people think I look like this gorgeous little human.
Tuesday. I wake up late, just in time to see her swoop past me with a cheerful, “Bye, mom.”
Wednesday. It’s dark when she gets home from dance class. I ask to see her routine, and she gladly obliges. I give her my undivided attention, and she counts herself in — five-six-seven-eight. She sweeps across the floor to music only she can hear, biting her lip. I tell her it’s great, she’s great. Except the lip-biting part.
Thursday. I come home after my dance workout and head straight to her room. Our eyes meet, and without a word, she counts me in — five-six-seven-eight. I flail and shuffle in concentration. “Wait, I forget this part…” She watches patiently, as I repeat my flailing, and gives me an only slightly dubious good-job.
I shower and find my mom’s eyes looking back at me from the fogged mirror. People say I look like her. I don’t see it, at least I haven’t until very very recently. It’s hard to believe that I look anything like that beautiful woman.
Friday. We’re having dinner with my parents. Mom is thrilled to see us—she always is, no matter how often we see each other. She’s unashamed and exaggerated in her excitement, and I wonder if that’s precisely how I’ll feel about sharing a meal with my daughter someday.
We chat about this and that. I disclose my parenting adventures of the week, with detail and color and, dare I say, occasional humor. We laugh heartily and toast to family, while kids banter in another room.
Mom asks about my day, my work. I recoil. I struggle to meet her eye and say anything beyond, “It’s fine.” I’m relieved when kids stomp back, asking about dessert.
Saturday. I’m reading on the couch. She comes over to ask me something and somehow I finagle her into sitting with me. She rests her head and lets me play with her hair. She lays with me, as I chant sweet nothings over her.
I commit this scene to memory — the weight of her head, the way her silky hair slides between my fingers. For a few moments I’m filled with hope.
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Alina Senderzon is a dreamer and a maker. She’s a designer by day and an aspiring writer by an occasional night. She lives in Palo Alto, CA with her husband and two daughters.
One Reply to “Ramblings of a Mother – by Alina Senderzon”
This touched my heart. So true, sad, and heartbreaking with a touch of hope in the end.