First thing this morning, I roll out of bed after that jerk alarm clock so rudely woke me up, stumble into my daughter’s room to wake her for school, and before I’ve even had a sip of coffee I am confronted with this:
The previous evening we had had our (unfortunately) usual conflict over homework and bathing. Evidently it had hit her pretty hard, to generate such a sad response.
First, if I might be so callous as to point out the positive aspects of her letter:
1. She wrote something without being ordered, cajoled, threatened or bribed! Writing being one of the things we had argued about yesterday evening.
2. The lines of communication between the unloved daughter and the monster Mama seem to be pretty open, so that’s a good thing.
3. She has apparently learned my secret weapon (the guilt trip) well enough that she was able to turn it back on me. A+ and four gold stars for that one!
4. Her cleverness seems to know no bounds – notice how she puts a witty, guilt-inducing spin on the standard closing of “Love, So&So.” Pure genius!
Now to the negative. I know that I, for one, felt this exact way from about age 5 until age just a couple of minutes ago, and I fully expect the feeling to recur any minute. Is this my personal neurosis that my poor daughter has either genetically inherited or otherwise picked up from my toxic emotional environment?
Or does everyone go through this as a normal stage of growing up?
On the one hand, I think it is natural for every parent to want to cultivate and maintain the health and happiness of their child. What better satisfaction is there than to see pure joy upon that sweet little face?
On the other hand, without some trials in life, we would be fluffy, weak and pathetic creatures. To allow a child to feel a serious, profound connection to reality, even though sometimes that involves discomfort, is to allow a child to grow as a genuine person and, eventually, to become a capable, functioning adult.
I think especially in the Attachment Parenting world, we are prone to err on the side of eliminating all possibility of frustration, sadness and discomfort in the name of physical, emotional and mental health.
So is this letter an unpleasant but expected sight on the parenting journey, or is it, as she intended it and as I intended for my parents, a no-holds-barred condemnation of the quality of that journey?
All I know right now is, she ventures further away all the time as she grows and explores the world, and that’s natural. I hope that every time she returns to my embrace, she feels the warmth and affection that I’ve always had for her, and always will.