Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Necessary Heartbreak or A Daughter Strays

My daughter Avery is turning twelve in a week. She will always be my baby, but now I see her growing, maturing, right on the precipice of being more a young woman than a little girl. I find myself hanging on to the last threads of what is quickly fading away. Our relationship is also shifting and here is where I meet my own resistance, my heart feels cracked and tender. The legacy of motherhood is to be broken open by love. It is beautiful and harrowing, it offers the most delicious of difficulties, the sweetest joy then bittersweet as its delicate blossoms mature to fruit. Here is a timeless tale that has infinite iterations, and which all mothers will someday tell. My version goes like this:

Once upon a time, my daughter Avery pledged her absolute loyalty to me. She told me that I was the sun in her sky. She loved me best of all in the whole entire world and she would never leave my side. Even when we moved far from where we once lived, she was at ease because all she really needed to be happy and secure was me, her mother. She told me she would stay with me forever.

Recently there came a day when we discovered we would be moving again, this time to a very distant and foreign land across the deep blue sea (China). I expected her to take this news gracefully, of course, knowing that the only one who really matters, me, would be, as always, right there by her side.

I was taken by surprise when her usual ease and placidity was replaced by angst ridden tears and howls of resistance. She proclaimed her refusal to go, she insisted she would be staying put. This was a dagger in my heart. My loyal and precious daughter had forsaken me. How could this be? What evil curse was at work? Who was to blame?

She said she did not want to leave her school, her friends. She needed her friends and now she would be torn away from them. That is how I discovered that my child, my precious, was straying from me (yeah I have some drama queen in me too, like daughter like mother). I was no longer the only star in her sky, not the only light she lived by. I had competition, not only that, in a sense I was losing, losing something I so cherished. Things would now and forever be more complicated, gone the days of that pure and simple devotion, gone the unfettered love of a little girl for her mother.

In this sadness of what I felt to be the dying of what once was, I realized what every mother will have to confront and ultimately embrace. I would have to start letting go. I would have to let this unfold, resistance would only bring suffering. My little girl was growing up, asserting her individuality, her independent spirit being forged before my eyes. This is the necessary heartbreak we mothers will all share. We have loved more than we ever dreamed we could love another being. We know we would jump in front of a train for our children, or stand between them and any dark force (like the proverbial Wicked Witch of the West). We want to love and protect them, forever, happily ever after.

In the end we will have to let them learn how to forge their own path, to endure life's challenges. We will have to let them go like Dorothy to Oz. We must allow them to get swept up and away to the places they are destined to. Places that hold the lessons of their unique lifetime. They will have to confront their fears, sometimes on their own while we watch, praying, hoping, heart aching. Other times they will come back home to the arms of the brightest star in their sky and we will also return to them.

After all, after all the adventure, confrontation, and stepping into her brilliant power, after making the best and most important friends of her life, Dorothy still could not wait to click her heels and say "There's no place like home."

I am proud that I can see the outcome of my parenting thus far is a daughter who has a voice, who will say what she feels and express herself boldly and completely.  I have a daughter who trusts my love so completely she knows she can be in her truth, even if it is a truth that I won't like, or that might hurt me. She knows my love and support will continue, no question, no doubt, no fear. So yeah my heart is a little torn and achy, but it is necessary and it is good. Thankfully this process of separating happens over time. She is only twelve, and yes things are changing, but I have a few more years with her pulled near at my side.

Every ending heralds a new beginning. As Sting sang it best. If you love somebody set them free!!    
It is a good song to dance to as well.      


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