Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What's it like to have an adult daughter?


Just the other day we were on our way home from the county fair, and Vespera asked me, "Can men produce milk?" And a few minutes later, "How about women who have never had a baby?" And the conversation went on from there with a series of questions about hormones and human milk production. This was followed by questions about Michael Jackson and his difficult life. Before that we had talked about the people she met at the fair, the people who asked her where she was from, why it is that people ask where you're from if your skin is a different color. We talked and talked, wending this way and that.

I love these conversations. I love her voice of youth and endless interests. I love rolling along in the car following the roads of her curiosity.

It reminds me that she is my daughter. And I am her mother.

And then today she got up, headed out the door, and told me she wasn't sure when she'd be home. Ok, that sounds bad. She didn't say it in a bad way. It's just matter of fact. She's got things to do and people to see, her own life to live. I have a vague idea of where she's at. I know she's safe and responsible. She's almost 19. I think it's ok for her to be doing her own thing.

It reminds me that she's an adult. And so am I. And that makes us equals.

We're transitioning from a household of parents and children to a multigenerational communal living sort of situation, as I've posted about here: Communal Living

How do I feel about it? Well...perplexed. Bewildered. Uncertain. At a loss. Hmmm...loss. I suppose loss has something to do with it. For a few short years of her life with us I could read her children's picture books, even though she was too old for them. I could rub her head and tell her stories. She would tell me her dreams. And, you know, those things haven't gone away, but they're fewer and less often. She has less time and less interest. And she has Novio.

And I find myself uncertain about how and when to push for connection. Perplexed by her less readable responses. Bewildered by this woman-child who is mine...but not mine. She is her own.

And then who am I? Her mother, of course. But what does that mean? I suppose, in essence, mothering is more about how much we love our children, how we support and encourage them, how we are the soft place to land when the world is hard. Mothering is not really setting rules, enforcing boundaries, or giving advice. It isn't even making dinner and doing the laundry. It isn't reading stories or giving head rubs. In fact, maybe mothering cannot be defined at all. Mothers do all those things when necessary, as life demands, but those things do not define motherhood.

It's humbling to have an adult daughter. A constant state of perplexity does not lend itself well to arrogance or pride.

And it's beautiful. It's beautiful to see her becoming who she is. To see her step out with increasing confidence into her own life. To know that she is able to care for herself.

And I miss her sometimes.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Day 7 - Random Thoughts

Mango has been gone at a conference for 7 days so far. It's over half finished now, and I can begin the countdown to his homecoming.

We haven't had a car since he left because the transmission went out, and we're getting a "new" used transmission. The first transmission they replaced the old one with at the dealership didn't work. So, now they're trying a second one. At this rate I might get my car back in time to pick Mango up from the airport.

I've discovered that Vespera is really getting to be a grown-up...with her own plans and schedule, and she doesn't need me much. She stops to say hello and give me an update on her plans about once a day, but, mostly she's doing her own thing. And I'm learning to understand the more grown-up version of her. I really, really love her. She's so curious about everything. I love it when she tells me the random things she's thought of and wondered about. I love it when she comes home late & sits on my bed and tells me about her night. I love it that we can live and work and play in the same house together and enjoy the presence of another woman...

This year, though, Mane is the one keeping me company while Mango is gone. She and I have been very, very busy with playdates and outings. Mane can be such a good companion that I get surprised when all of the sudden she's whining and tired and hungry...just generally acting like a 7yr old! We've been biking and playing games and entertaining company together. I'm beginning to really look forward to the next year of homeschooling.

I miss Mango...mostly at night when it's too late to call him any more, and I'm finally going to sleep. My very favorite thing ever about getting married is that we can sleep in the same bed together for the rest of our lives. It's one of the simple, yet profound, pleasures in sleep with someone you love and trust.

Only 6 more nights to go...

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Having a stomach is like having a baby.

Especially when that stomach has an ulcer.

It'll keep you awake at night. Though, as time passes, you'll get longer stretches of sleep.

You'll have to feed it at regular intervals. If you hold out too long for a feeding it'll get crabby and you'll have to spend some time settling it down.

You'll spend some time figuring out what it likes and doesn't like, learning what makes it upset and what calms it down. It can't talk and tell you what's the matter. So, you'll have to do some troubleshooting. Try one thing and then another. And never really know for sure why it turned out the way it did this time.

You'll read about it on the internet, ask your friends, and comb the library for information trying to be as informed as possible. Though you're still going to make mistakes. It's ok, though. We're all human. And what matters is that we learn from our mistakes.

You'll take it everywhere with you, cautiously introducing it to new situations.

You'll do the very best you can in hopes that it will all turn out alright in the end.

Yep, that's what it's like to have a stomach. Take good care of yours!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Happy Anniversary...or not...

Mango & I are approaching our 11th anniversary. We decided to celebrate while Vespera was off at camp. The plan was for Mane to stay with my mother Wednesday & Thursday nights last week. Mango & I would have the house to ourselves, we'd go walking downtown, we'd visit all the non-kid-friendly restaurants that don't have gluten-free menus (Mane needs to eat gluten-free), we'd stay up late and sleep in late...

So, we dropped Mane off at my mother's house, one hour away from our house. We got her settled in, chatted with my mom a bit, and climbed back into our car. The car wouldn't start. We sat there in stunned silence for a minute. Tried again. No go.

My mom made a pot of coffee and called the local mechanic. He guessed that the fuel pump went out. We called AAA. We upgraded our membership for $17 in order to get the car towed all the way back to Minneapolis without paying a huge towing fee. Then we waited for the towtruck...which didn't take all that long. Only about an hour. We rode with the driver back to the Saturn dealership in Golden Valley, admired his GPS and all the digital readouts in his fancy new truck, talked about marriage and kids, schools and unions...

Mango's dad picked us up from the dealership, and his parents took us out for dinner at A La Salsa at the Global Market. Yep, we started out spending our anniversary with Mango's parents. They're great, and they made us laugh after our crazy afternoon. Then we walked home on the Greenway, much to the chagrin of Mango's mother.

Thursday was beautiful. We picked up our car. (The sensor that tells the fuel pump to turn on was broken.) And we went to Minnehaha Cafe, a little coffee shop in a renovated gas station on the Ford Parkway. We pulled out the anniversary book and decided to write a list of all that has happened this year to spare us both from having to write it separately. We laughed and sighed and felt exhausted when we were finished.

After a tromp down along the Mississippi River, we parked our car at the Franklin light rail station and headed downtown where we visited the Foshay tower, went to the museum & walked all around the observation deck. Then we went for an early dinner at The Local. We went in search of a French Press in Uptown and then took some coffee shop snacks down to Lake of the Isles until it started to rain.

At home we snuggled up on the couch to watch The Golden Compass. We were happy and satisfied, looking forward to one more whole day together on Friday before we went to pick up Mane. Then we'd come home to plan some nice things for Vespera's homecoming on Saturday.

Except... I started feeling sick. Half and hour into the movie, we turned it off, and I tried to sleep. My stomach was in terrible pain. And I was getting sick over and over, losing liquids fast. At four in the morning we went to the emergency room since the pain was intolerable, and I was afraid something was horribly wrong. Five hours later I walked out with a tentative diagnoses. If the medication they prescribed actually worked to make me feel better, then it meant that I have an ulcer.

I lived Friday in a fog of pain medication, anti-nausea medication, and a sleep deprived headache. But I was getting better. Saturday morning I took one last pain pill, and I haven't needed more since then. The ulcer medication is working.

I have an ulcer. Happy anniversary.

So, for the next three months I'll take medication, and avoid coffee, alcohol, tomatoes, peppers, probably chocolate (though I haven't tested it yet), and basically anything spicy or acidic. And I'm supposed to eat at least 5 small meals a day to keep my stomach protected.

So, there you have it.

Our actual anniversary is still coming. I think we'll spend a quiet night reading books or something. *sigh*

Monday, July 06, 2009

Music Monday - You're My Little Girl

I looked this song up on youtube today. I don't actually have it in my itunes, but I will after today. Vespera is away at French Camp right now, probably canoeing in the Boundary Waters as I type this. We all miss her. It's a different place at home when she's not here. Novio was over last year, and, as I predicted, Sunday was a hard day for him. Somehow, knowing her trip is about half over...but there's still half of it left is a tough place to be. When I was in high school & college we always used to say that the halfway point of any trip is predictably the worst day. I found out last year when Mango was gone that this is also true for the people who love you and are waiting for you at home.

Last night, Mango & I both had some disturbing dreams about Vespera...reminding us to pray for her health, her safety & her emotional well-being while she's gone. As I've said before, it's both the easiest and the most difficult thing to release anything into the hands of God, the Unseen Hands. Vespera is the "little girl" of the Creator of the universe, as well as our little girl, and when our hands cannot be there, God's hands always are.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Young Love

Dear Adults who like to give my daughter advice about dating and/or marriage,

Please stop.

As you may know, every person is different. In other words, what works (or does not work) for one person may not (or may) work for another. And cultural norms do not make something right or wrong.

Standard advice in our culture seems to be to wait until after college to get married. I understand that many young people are simply not ready to make that kind of decision before they're through college. I want you to understand that some are. And telling them to wait when they already know they belong together can be damaging, too. It creates this dynamic of uncertainty, of not really being able to rely on that relationship quite yet as a solid, steady thing. It gives them a feeling of walking along the edge of a cliff all the time. A state of limbo. Ambiguity. Not-knowingness. And then they spend their energy wondering where the relationship is going, rather than just living life together and getting their education.

Now, some young people will claim that they've found the "right one" when they really know nothing about who the right person would be or what they actually really want. Some people think they've found their soulmate when they haven't really even found their own soul. I'm not talking about those people. I'm talking about the rare and beautiful circumstances when two young people are sure, clearheaded, self-aware, mature, and able to make a commitment of the marriage magnitude.

What I want you to know about my daughter is that you don't really know which category she falls in. You don't know how she's been handling relationships or her education. But I do. I can tell you that she has been thoughtful, and she has worked hard. I can tell you that she has the ability to focus, not only on school & her boyfriend, but also on family, friends, volunteer work, and preparing for college.

When you tell her to wait until she's finished with college you're telling her either one of two things. Maybe you're telling her to keep on dating but not to get married. If that's the case, you're telling her to continue with the high stress & high maintenance that a dating relationship requires without the stability and trust that comes of a committed marriage relationship. Remember, we've already talked about maturity and whatnot. Assuming that she's mature enough to make this kind of decision, you're telling her NOT to make the very decision that would loosen some of the tension in her life and create a place of security. Yes, I know that marriage is hard work. I promise you that dating (or even courting) is more.

OR, maybe you're telling her that relationships take too much time and effort while she's in college and she should walk away from this one. I can't begin to tell you how disrespectful that is...of her choices and the work that she's already done to build this relationship. You're also telling her to let go of something very promising, perhaps the most precious gift she will ever receive in her lifetime...not knowing whether that gift will come back to her when she's through with college or not.

And, honestly, though I value education, I value people more. Vespera's Novio has been her novio for more than 2 years, and they have both worked for this relationship. Neither of them are disposable. They are not something for you to wave aside with a sweeping statement about the importance of education and of waiting for serious relationships until the end of college. They didn't go looking for this kind of relationship. It came to them. And this is where they the very beginning of their college careers, fighting the cultural norms and the sweeping generalizations about young love.

Your encouragement, respect and support would be appreciated.