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.


  1. beautiful, amy. really, really beautiful. i wish more parents could view their adult children in this way...and that i will have the wisdom, love and grace to do so myself someday...

  2. *hugs* you amaze me more the older we get (read: longer i know you)...


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