I may not know anything about being a mother, but I know a lot about being a daughter. I know the expectation of the daughter. And the confusion, anger, incredulity when you inevitably fall short of it.
I know that certain kind of rage, the fury that can only be ignited by you. And the desperation of needing you anyway.
You are not a god. Eventually we find this out, that you are merely human. But we never truly reconcile it. We never quite figure out how to adjust our expectations. Though many of us will spend a lifetime in therapy trying.
And in addition to these unrealistic (yet unshakeable) expectations, we are expert observers. We take meticulous notes before we even learn to write. “No hot breakfast today, I see? Dually noted. Didn’t clean off that pacifier first? Probably why I’ll need Prozac in 30 years.”
And us dutiful daughters are ready to remind you of every major and minor infraction, whether 10 minutes or 10 years after the event. You’re welcome.
All of the times you were “just checking for hyper-dermic needles” while ingesting our Halloween candy? You still owe us a ton of miniature Snickers and we are charging you interest. And the times you locked the bathroom door and faked explosive diarrhea just to hide from us for a moment? That was rude, we knew you were faking, and we’re still in therapy for that too, thank you very much.
And in those moments when you swore you were alone, when you whispered to yourself, “keep trying.” When you pleaded with yourself to take just one more step, to give it just one more day, we saw that too. Every time you loved a little harder than you thought you could, moved a little farther than anyone thought possible. We saw that.
But these memories are different. They are not readily accessible. They can’t be plucked out on command and examined, painstakingly untangled in a discussion, or an argument, as it were.
These moments are rarely recorded. They can not be written, revised, or erased. Too strong for fragile paper, these impressions are ingrained in our bones, imprinted on our eyelids. Immutable, like DNA.
And so every mistake you may have made, every yes that should’ve been no, every right that should’ve been left, it always shakes out to this: What matters most is not what you did, but who you are. The strongest part of you is forever our magnet, pulling us up, guiding us forward.
The best of you is who we become.
~ Your pretty terrific, very grateful daughter
Author: Jenny Spitzer
Image: Author’s Own
Editor: Emily Bartran
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