You don't know sadness until you hear your daughter say she wishes she had another day with you.
My mother knows how to bleed you dry in a single quip. Her ineptitude with English does not render her slice harmless. Pounds of flesh do not satisfy the monster that is expectation and guilt that powers her existence. I have spent a lifetime of not living up to expectations that were defined by an ever moving bar.
I don’t think I am alone in this.
I made this decision that I would raise daughters steeped in agency and free will. That the only expectation I had was for them to know themselves. Curate a life that is filled with curiosity peppered with grit. By no means, did I own my daughters and I had no right to demand anything from them? Instead, I took an anthropological approach of observation combined with testing approach borrowed from behavioral science. What happens when I introduce a new idea, object, complication, or adventure into their lives?
I raised Grace.
When I told them I was going to follow my heart, and that meant I was moving out, they understood. A stoic and rational discussion about how our relationship changes. How we would stay connected despite the distance. They helped me pack and sent me on my way.
My oldest told me that I would have more opportunities in Los Angeles to be creative. Artists follow feelings even when they are hard. Romantic despite her natural salty nature. My poetic heart passed onto her.
Something in this universe spins for goodness, of this I am certain.
Penultimate in her desire for secrecy was thrilled at the prospect of her own space craved by the room I left behind. It is here she will engineer a future of choosing excellence.
The golden heart of the family kissed my tears and gave me a heart demanding I “text her”. I packed all the books I wished to share with her. A vow to meet her across the distance in worlds for us to explore together. She is the sad one my mother uses to vilify my decisions.
Earlier that the day, my girls told me how depressing they found their grandparents. They have nothing to live for and the girls didn’t understand how they got there. Unmoved by any passion and trapped by what they think they must do. My mother, who wants to travel but is saddled by the weight of a man whose corpulence has left him immobile. That man never found anything that quickens his heart and so he sits amid Fox New and football wasting away. My daughters found the contrast and do not wish for me to live a life locked into an idea of what motherhood was supposed to mean.
I am their mom: imperfect, chaotic and now distant. I am their mom: creative, moving, and driven. They don't have a rubric in which they score me against a June Cleaver fantasy. They have met me where I wanted to meet them . . . in honesty and self growth.
Steering into the unknown.