There is an Irish saying that you’ve probably heard – “A son is a son till he takes a wife, a daughter is a daughter all of her life.” I’ve also heard it as “A son is your son till he takes a wife, a daughter is yours the rest of your life.”
I’ve quoted the latter version often, and especially in conversation with my daughter as we’ve driven around on our shopping days speculating about the future. When I say the verse she jokes, “Yeah, yeah, mom, I know. I get to take care of you in your old age. Better start saving up for a nursing home.” We refer to that as her “Rosie” sense of humor.
I am, indeed, blessed to be the mother of this beautiful, talented, thoughtful, feisty, incredibly smart, and determined young lady!
When I’m crying, sobbing, she puts her arms around me and holds me. There are times I don’t think I can breathe but she is there, nurturing, giving, loving, supporting. I am more grateful than I can say. There are times I wonder where she gets her strength, but I do know, and I thank Him for it.
When I fell asleep exhausted after so much stress, she ran around the house and did all my night-time chores rather than wake me. When I asked her why she didn’t wake me, she curled against me on the bed and said, “You needed that sleep, mom.”
She holds my hand every morning as we drive to school and prays with me. And we are not “morning girls”. We loathe getting up early which means we are both rushed, we are both irritable, we are both barely able to stumble out the door and when I’m on time, she isn’t, and when she’s on time, I’m running late, and by the time we feed the cats, feed the dog, wrestle the dog outside, fix lunches, gather our things, go back for all we’ve forgotten, we are both, to use a Southern expression, “fit to be tied!” But as we turn the corner on 39th Avenue we hold hands and, together, we talk to God. That is our time and it is sacred; I am so blessed to share it with her.
When she is snappish, she is learning not only to check herself but to apologize. As we’ve made adjustments, the girl who used to flounce about and never admit her wrong or faults owns her behavior now. How proud I am when I see her visibly fight and win over self-control, when I see her consider her words before speaking them. Just months ago she would have responded with flamboyant tantrums when her behavior was an issue. Now, she makes the effort to be thoughtful in her words and actions, and she learns from each experience. I cannot feel more blessed and I thank God for that.
Together, we are walking through a thunderstorm looking for a rainbow.
Mother-daughter relationships are complicated. At sixteen, she is still a child who needs guidance, boundaries, encouragement, correction, and she still needs parenting…but not as much and not in the same ways as she did when she was little.
She doesn’t need me to do her laundry since she turned ten. That was our household rule: When you turn ten, you are responsible for your own laundry and it worked for all the kids. Everyone learned how to use the washer and dryer, a useful life skill, win-win for all.
She doesn’t need me to cook for her although she loves it when her brother comes home and I do cook. She can cook as well as anyone and even better than many! When she was about eight she made up her own recipe for cookies.
She certainly doesn’t need me to do her homework though during my college math classes I needed her to do mine! To me, math is a four letter word. To her, it’s logical and, therefore, simple. She’s in honors pre-calculus earning college credits now.
She’s doesn’t need me to show her how to use a computer. Her skills surpass mine several times.
She doesn’t need me to help her prepare her lessons for the Sunday School class she teaches. Her creativity and consideration for the children in her class warms my heart. She recognizes the great responsibility of ministering to these children and puts much thought into her lessons and activities for them.
She doesn’t need me to choose her clothes, make up or hairstyle. I’m proud of her own choices because the choices she makes in these areas are appropriate for her age, modest to reflect our values and beliefs, and she isn’t distracted by trends or the opinion of others. A huge compliment is that others wonder if she is even wearing make up; another is that she is incredible with theatre make up.
She doesn’t need me to make decisions for her but she does talk through her thoughts, asks and listens to mine, and then comes to a decision of her own that reflects her maturity and forethought. If we disagree, we continue talking until a compromise is reached. If its something I am adamantly opposed to, she listens to the reason and respects the decision I’ve made, even if it’s not something she agrees with. To me, that’s a sign of her emotional intelligence; the ability to both compromise and accept authority.
No, she’s not perfect. Her room is messy, her bathroom is somewhat messy, she doesn’t always do the dishes before going to bed, I have caught her drinking out of the milk jug, she sometimes stays up too late, she ate the last peanut butter cookie without telling me, and I have to nag her to get her homework done…but her heart is good, her head is good, and she is well on her way to being one amazing young woman. How could I not be proud of that?
And I pray for God to prepare an equally wonderful young man who will someday have the privilege of capturing her heart. But not yet and no time soon. I still need her.
As I was wondering just what she needs from me besides the physical things like food, shelter, clothing, and drives to Circle K to get Dr. Pepper at all hours of the night, I remembered the poem she presented to me when she was in grade school. It hangs on my bedroom wall, a reminder of how she did, does, and always will need me. I am her mother and she is my daughter. That is for life.
My mother is a storm: strong and brave,
Facing hardships and taking risks for what she believes.
My mother is a breeze: calming and gentle,
Taking away worries and soothing my soul.
My mother is a pool: refreshing and energetic,
She relaxes me with a sudden burst of energy.
My mother is a rose: beautiful and graceful,
She rises above the bad and changes with grace.
My mother is a teddy bear: snuggly and soothing,
She’s always there for me and relaxes my mind.