The Girl on the Other Side

Five minutes in the life of a mother:

I’m on the landing, feeling estranged and unsure of what to do next. She speaks only through the door to me.

“Leave me alone.”

I can tell when she is agitated and when she is happy by the tone of her voice. I find it comforting to hear the smile on her vocal chords. Looking back in my mind’s memory I see the beautiful curve of her pink lips and the pinch of her eyes as her cheeks take over her face. On the other hand, I can also remember the scowl and darts flying from her retinae when the timbre increases. Staccato syllables that hardly form recognizable words pierce my heart and crush my soul. As if everything I did or didn’t do to try and make her life run smoothly has been arm-swept off the table top into a garbage bag, twisted and tied so no light can get in, then tossed out the second story window just in time to be run over by the garbage truck.

Well, I can’t call her a woman yet for her age and behavior indicates someone unwilling, as yet, to accept the responsibility of an unfair world. She still seems to try to find the fair where it does not exist. How many times did I tell her life is just unfair? A zillion if once!

So, this is motherhood in all of its glory! Walking a tightrope over a chasm of emotions that will drown you if you fall in. Sometimes it’s hard to breathe! Time is the only constant I can depend on, though it is no friend, nor is it an enemy. Time is like Switzerland; neutral and there. A place to think and reflect. How one views time depends on what side of it they are on. Right now, time is making me suffer. I’m in the midst of the kind of time that seems to be suspended as I await a drop of joy to exude from the other side of this door. A year from now I will look back on this and think it such a minor battle. What is important is that I fought it with patience and grace in the hope that she’ll understand that as my undying love for her. Never mind that it’s breaking my heart now. Never mind that what I really want to do is break through the door and grab my girl up in a big bear hug and tell her that none of this really matters! It will all pass and I will protect her forever and keep her safe from the big bad world that is making her so miserable and confused! Never mind that that would be a lie because the world is pervasive and I won’t be around forever. She just has to find her way through; find her own tools to deal with these emotions. My set of tools will not do.

I remember so clearly days such as these when I was a teenager and I hurt so deeply because the world had such sharp edges. Even in my paradise I was miserable over the injustices and what the prospects were for my life in such a world. We are reminded to live in the moment, but it is not in our nature to do so. We will always look forward and dream and become disappointed. I have learned over the years the value of moment-living. I do a lot more of it now. Even these awful moments necessitate attention in the here and now. I trust that I am gaining some kind of tool for my kit that will be put into play later in life. I have gained many various tools. I’ve even had the opportunity to identify and use some of them too, so I’m going to hang in here if it takes all night.

What should I say that won’t provoke her? What is her mindset at this moment? How did I feel when I was this age? She is my daughter and has patterned almost exactly after me in her emotional growth and depth of heart. I should be able to do this; I should know! What would open me up if I were in a state of despair and mistrust of this world? She won’t believe that I know how she feels. She won’t take an apology from me on behalf of another. I can’t insult her intelligence with an excuse for the offending world. I cannot give her a simple answer to what she sees as complex. It is complex; we are complex creatures. All I can give her is my heart on a platter and hope she doesn’t take a knife to it.

“Honey, I’m here and here I’ll stay as long as you are hurting. Talk to me or be silent, but just know that I am here. For you. I love you.”

Oh! I think that was too much! Did I say it clearly? Could she hear me through the door? Did I use an inviting tone or did I sound desperate? I feel desperate! Should I say something else? No. I need to wait for her. I need to be patient. I don’t feel patient! It is taking forever for her to respond. Is she ok? Should I open her door and make sure? Panic is clouding the edges of my mind. I don’t know what to do!

“Mom?” she responds quietly.

Oh, thank God! “Yeah?”

“Come in.” She says with a tremble.

“Ok, I’m opening the door.” I use every ounce of willpower to open it slowly and step cautiously inside. She is on her bed curled up with her Pillow Pet for comfort, nose red, cheeks wet. She looks at me, defeated, but not by me.



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© 2016-2020 by Janine Clark-Barry