05 June 2015

There is a man downstairs painting my kitchen walls. He tells that me he lives in a tepee during the summer. Yesterday, he showed me the scar on his neck where he had a tumour the size of a grapefruit removed last year, 38 radiation sessions. But you know, he said, I just got back onto my horse - which in his case is an imported US van. He smells of woodsmoke and sings church hymns while he works.
His daughter, he informs me, is afraid of the open skies and refuses to visit him.

Meanwhile, my daughter calls and we talk for a long time about everything and nothing. When people ask me how I manage what with my only child living so far away, I try to come up with a clever answer.  Because honestly, I can't tell you. What would it be like if she came through this door from time to time and put the kettle on in the kitchen? Would we talk about the same things? Would we have a different relationship? No idea. When I am awake, I know she is asleep and when she is up and about, I am asleep. We meet at the edges of our days. She is always 12 hours ahead of me. If in rare moments, I need comfort, I know she is not alone. That she is married to a wonderful man.

Do I miss her? Complicated. I just love what she is doing, has done with her life. I could not for a second ask her to abandon it. And no, we have not driven her away. If anything, we encouraged her.
This is where most people start shaking their heads in disbelief. I like to think she had a great childhood, what with the different countries and continents and schools and all that chaos. Or even despite of that. I know I made a mess of being a mother, many times. I think we all do. I told her that much.

Watch us, a small family of three, two adults, one girl, so close at times, we could walk with our eyes shut, holding each others' hands. One tiny shift of chin, one short stare and we know what's up. Even via skype. Beautiful and scary at the same time. We will never be without each other.

I can tell you this: she knows how to cook, grow food, swim, cycle, teach yoga, climb mountains, manage entire government departments, speak diplomacy, she is a ferocious reader, loves fiercely, and she has never ever been afraid of the open skies.

I could not ask for more.

She'll probably give out to me now for telling.


Ms. Moon said...

I don't think there is one right way to feel about one's children whether they are close or not. You did your job as a parent- you gave your daughter such strong wings. Who in the world would tell you not to let her use them to fly as far and wide as she can?

Anonymous said...

Reading this made me think of Kahlil Gibran, and I haven't thought of his poetry in many, many years.

"Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you."

I think if I had ever become a parent, I would have liked a relationship like this one you have with your daughter. The undercurrent of love like the ocean between vast continents, always connected.

nan said...

Thank you for this post. I love the way you wrote it - following the path of your thoughts. I like the two comments also. Your daughter has a wonderful life - the life she is meant to live. You are a wonderful mother.

37paddington said...

This is a wonderful meditation on your relationship with your daughter. She is away, and yet she is with you always. You made her this way; she does you proud. It's bittersweet, missing them, but when they are off doing such amazing things with the life you have given them, its mostly sweet.