My words are ill-timed and poorly chosen. They show no understanding of the ways of the world. I should be locked away somewhere so my too loud laughter won’t infringe on the well-being of others. It would be best if I were to be brought out only at mealtimes (and could you just drop it at the cage door and back away slowly, no eye contact or conversation please?)
I am moderately useful at times of low grade fevers, existential crises, and the middle of the night. Perhaps it would be best for us all if I could be launched, set sail on an ice floe for the next, say, 4-8 years.
I want to argue that I am not who you think I am. I am likable. Kind. Strong. I was a really good friend this week. Brave, even. Sometimes I make people laugh. I am becoming an expert at sitting next to someone, holding a hand, saying nothing. When I do speak, there are life experiences I could share. And I remember what it was like to be young. The world may have changed, but I remember the thoughts, the feelings, the needs.
I want to say, let’s not play this game. It’s such a cliché. Could we just jump ahead to the part where you see the good in me and the filter of time will show that these, while never destined to be the good old days, were the days when I helped make you feel stable, and safe? When I dragged my paltry self out of bed each day and kept showing up?
I know you have affection to give, climbing on your father’s lap, a mash-up of estrogen and testosterone fitting together tightly-- so different than the magnetic poles of like and like that invite the two of us close, close, closer then push us apart. You say, “You are getting even better looking, Dad! Those gray hairs look so cute on you!”
I peek at you when you sleep. You don’t have my eyes, or my nose, but you do have my spunk and spark. And the quick responses come from me, too. You and I have the power to be witty and charming, but our quick minds can be dangerous when we choose the cutting retort. And beware if we are tired or hungry. I can tell these are my legacy to you, but you would rather have picked them up from a used urinal cake in a bus station bathroom than from my DNA. Because you are your own person. You are not me. This life is yours and you need to live it for yourself. ‘Tis true.
So my inward pep-talk about my own worth stays inside. Spoken aloud it smacks of desperation, and I’ve seen enough of life to assure myself that while challenging, our situation is far from a desperate one. So I keep it to myself, repeating occasionally: I am Okay. I am Kind.
…the mother of a teenage girl.
I am strong and worthy. So are you, my beautiful, amazing daughter. I love you, I’m not going anywhere, and I know we can ride this thing out.