Capturing life in words…
“I hate you!” as tears streamed and feet stomped their way back to her room. If the thick carpet had not prevented it, she would have slammed the door.
I sighed and sat down on the couch. Motionless, while a tear spilled over my lashes, marking my faded IU tee like a rain drop. Knowing her so well, my mind easily brought up an image. She probably was face down in a pillow — making her own mosaic with tears on the cotton.
I remember when I began to hate things for seemly, no reason. When my body betrayed me and brought physical changes before any of my friends. I had pimples in 5th grade and shaving was added to the list of “getting ready to go”. Oh puberty, I hate you. You tilted my world three decades ago, and your return rips my heart as I witness my daughter’s growing pains.
I thought back to what I wished my mother would have done when I yelled, “I hate you!”
Silently, I rose. I tapped on a door covered with Disney stars and a tattered, carefully colored Hello Kitty picture with “I love you Mommy,” written in purple marker. I walked passed the doll house she still used, often filming a Barbie family with her iPod. Approaching her, as her shoulders shook with sobs, I knelt down upon an array of discarded shirts and pants piled on her floor. Nothing looked right today– through her eyes. She was neither child or woman, and they didn’t have a store called “Not Yet”. Pretty pastel shirts and skirts splashed her floor. Then there was a gothic tee-shirt, wadded at the foot of her bed next to pink Nike tennis shoes. She lost herself on the inside, so it was impossible to figure out what to wear on the outside.
Silently I rubbed her back, still not used to feeling the bump of a bra strap there. She cried. I held my tears.
What I was about to say felt inadequate, but I knew it mattered. Maybe not now, but later, when her mind replays this over again. It mattered to know one thing would never change:
“I love you… and you will always be my baby girl.” I paused to allow her to digest this.
“And you can still play dolls, pretend school and all the other things ten year olds do. Puberty and periods can’t and will not take that away from you.”
Then I put my head on the pillow next to hers, being simply present. Puberty, biology, physiology and life – at ten. Sigh.
My mind replayed our clash. Her angry announcement of hate was spat from the swirling storm of hormones and changes within her very young body.
I still remember this unannounced onslaught of emotional chaos decades ago. This change pushing through me. Puberty I hated you then, and I hate you worse in my child. Yet, unlike generations before me, this mother was ready for you, Puberty. And my child will be loved and informed through the whole process.
Her sobs were slowing. I lay beside her. I brushed her hair away from her puffy and tear-stained face. She snuggled into my arms.
And silently, I held her.
Photocredit: New York Times