“I’m almost as tall as you.”
I scoot away from her as fast as I can before she can prove it to me. I know how tall she is. I’ve been startled the last few times she’s walked into the kitchen as I’m making her lunch. I refrain from saying anything. I’m in complete denial of her impending teen years.
The other day, we went for a bike ride at the marshlands after school. Driving up to the pick up spot at the front of the school, I didn’t notice it so much. She jumped in the car and told me she was hungry. Again. She’s always hungry these days. “That’s what happens during growth spurts,” she reminds me. I know this. I see how tall she’s getting. Like I said, I’m in denial.
We ride the trail along the marsh and down to the horses on the other end of the path. It's a beautiful day and I could ride forever, but I have to get back to make dinner before the play that night.
It's only then that I notice it. As we head back towards the beach, the salty wind is whipping her sunlit sandy brown waves back off of her shoulders. And then I'm startled at how much she looks like L. For a moment, I pretended it is her... and that all was well.
But it's not.
This girl with knobby elbows bobbing at the handle bars as she glides through the sun, riding towards the ocean... she is the little girl who is here now. And I am here now, riding with her. Denying her my presence because of my “what if” day dreams is too unfair to both of us.
She is taller now. As tall as L was when things started to go bad. But this is a totally different experience. She is different. I am different. Our family is different. I feel as though I have the results of a social experiment on the family and I want to tell people how to do things better. But I know that I can't because we are ALL different. We parent the best we can with the resources we have at the time.
Some days we fail miserably.
We struggle and we love and we stitch our families together when the seams begin to pull apart. Sometimes, I look up and see my own mother's face in the mirror. I wonder how she felt when I grew tall.