You are the sparkle in my heart, the apple of my eye, and the hope for my personal legacy — but there are days when I want to put you on the curb and wish you the best.
We butt heads often. No one warned me that strong-willed daughters will give you the most gray hair, worry wrinkles, and heartbroken tears.
I’ve weathered more rolled eyes, annoyed huffs, and teenage angst with you, my little estrogen queen, than I’ve ever endured with my two sons and yet, listening to you laugh with friends, or tell a story about your day makes everything worth it.
I remember the day we found out you were you. Your dad and I cried. We had hoped for a daughter but we were prepared for another son. After a rough pregnancy and almost losing you twice, you were born and I promised to be the absolute best mother I could be. I held your little hand and promised to never allow anyone to hurt you, and to give you a life filled with opportunity.
In so many ways, I failed to be the mom I’d hoped to be. I lost my temper, I allowed my sharp tongue to hurt your tender feelings, and I held you to impossible standards.
In spite of my clumsy efforts, you blossomed. Your smile lights up a room and your heart is generous and kind.
You’re going through the typical teenage angst stuff, trying to find out who you are instead of who I’ve told you to be, and you’ve pushed as I’ve pulled, but at the end of the day, you’re still the girl who wants mom to cut her sandwich into four pieces, and make her hot chocolate with fresh whipped cream on top when it’s cold outside.
And, I so love that about you.
Oh, sure, I complain but secretly, I know I will miss these things most. Watching you transform your room from a little girl’s haven to a teenage hang-out cracked my heart in two, even as I loved seeing your joy at this personal milestone.
As a toddler, you were a wild thing who danced with abandon, who laughed and screamed from your gut, and ran like a banshee from one experience to another with a glee I envied.
You were and still are, the pickiest eater. I’ve never known a kid to dislike pizza until you. The food battle between us has been epic and long. You’ve refused to eat anything with nutritional value; I’ve chased you with a litany of vitamins and supplements, hoping to ease my worried heart.
You’ve weathered a health scare with grace and bravery, refusing to let it break your spirit.
But I can’t get you to wear your Invisalign without a fight. Having straight teeth doesn’t seem to be on your radar for priorities and I’m starting to question if this is the hill I want to die on or if I should just let it go.
You have a stubborn streak that could rival the strength of adamantium and on any given day, it’s a toss-up who will win the ongoing test-of-wills between us.
But even as I lament the exhausting mental workout that parenting you is, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
The thing is; parenting is the hardest gig no one ever told us would break our hearts someday.
I don’t call my mom enough. I think about her everyday but I don’t call. I’m terrified you will stop calling me for advice, for help, to simply chat, following in my footsteps.
So, I do what I can to savor and soak up every moment — the good, the bad, the ugly — because in the end, I know there will come a day when I would do anything to have one more day of my girl driving me crazy, ignoring my advice, and asking for me to cut her sandwich in four pieces.
Because in every mother’s heart, her babies remain locked in memory as they were when they were small, no matter their age or hers.
So daughter of mine, please remember even when I’m short-tempered, out-of-patience, and griping about the latest inconvenience, know that in my heart of hearts, I love everything about you.
Even when I find your Invisalign everywhere but on your teeth.
Kim Van Meter is a former full-time reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Escalon Times and The Riverbank News; she continues to provide occasional columns.