You thought I died, didn't you? I'm still around, stirring up trouble wherever I go. Lately I've been bugging the crap out of my 8th grade daughter who simply can't understand why I don't believe C grades are acceptable. All my harping, checking, and offering to type papers has done nothing to motivate her. I was ticked that I took her to two plays so she can turn in an outside performance review. The first one was too late. The second one, already typed, she turned in two days too late. She got half credit. Her grade overall? C. All my lecturing slid right off her back. Her retorts included that she wanted to be a "well-rounded person" and not "all about good grades."
She tried out for a special year long drama class. She practiced for hours doing her monologue. She was good. I mean really good. She went early to school and auditioned. The list of lucky classmates was posted. All her friends were included. She was not. She was disappointed. We went together to ask the teacher why she didn't make it. In order to be considered, she had to have either an A or a B in the first Drama class. She took the news stoically and we drove home. She cried quietly. She really wanted to be in that class. She didn't need another lecture right then. I took her to Kneaders and gave her a hug.
I also want to go and yell at her teacher about clearly stating the minimum requirements so sweet little girls don't put their heart and soul into a monologue, hoping to get into a class. On the other hand, for once I don't have to play the bad guy. I can be the supportive, loving mother who gives her daughter a hug, tells her she's a great kid and I'm sorry she didn't get in. I don't have to connect the dots for her. If the lesson transfers to other classes, great. If not, too bad. I love that kid.
The other night at dinner, I could feel her scrutinizing my face. After a few seconds, she announced, "Mom, I like your face." What a random and wonderful sentence to hear. In hindsight, though, what better way for a child to let a mother know that she is familiar with your features? She knows you and has a history of interactions with you that seeks out your face above the rest. It is my face she looks for when her heart hurts. It is my face attached to my arms that she wants to be surrounded by.
That night as I brushed my teeth I looked at my face. Instead of seeing the aging skin, smile and frown lines alike, the maverick hair or the tiny scar on my cheek, I saw the face of my mother. Not the physical face but the familiarity her face brings. It is comforting to know that I am providing that service to my children simply by existing. No matter how old my mother gets or how bald the chemo makes her, it is still her face I seek when I need comfort and home. She is still beautiful to me because she epitomizes safety.
I don't remember what my mother taught me through words. I remember that she was there. I remember feeling safe. Maybe I'll just stop lecturing and BE.