There is something about having a daughter! She changed my world and then drew me into that special world that I built around her. They called it blind love, pampering and even obsession for a while then they realized it wasn’t what I did but how I felt inside. And how could that ever be questioned. No one can change that, not even her. You begin to see different dreams, feel a stronger heartbeat, hear the unspoken word and find a new way to say “I love you” every day.
My family and friends wondered and voiced their concern as she started growing up. “You can’t be possessive, she needs to become independent, grow into her own person. She will have her own friends, make her own decisions, how will you handle it when she leaves you… first to study and then when she marries. You have to let go.” Yeah, yeah, yeah…they were probably right but I had never curtailed her, held her back or even stopped her ever…all I wanted to do was watch her take her first steps and be there to soften her fall, see her run and clap as she raced ahead, look up and see her fly, and be the wind beneath her wings.
So when she got her scholarship and expressed her desire to go to London, I barely stopped to choke at the lump in my throat as I went about convincing the family, fixing up her visa dates, student accommodation, flight itinerary and then even flew with her to set up her apartment. I just hadn’t been away from her for all of her 17 years of growing up. The overnight school trips that she went for would have me awake through the night…so she never asked for more. But she always knew how lost i would feel without her. So, at the door of her London apartment, as I was leaving to catch my flight back home alone, she kissed me goodbye and softly said, “Be strong Mom, I’m coming back.” And I survived…
From arranging and re arranging her cupboard every day, to sleeping with her blanket, to fuming and festering if she didn’t return my call forgetting that there is a time difference! Between fighting the reality of what everyone had said to the stoic disposition i showed, yes I survived 3 years and I grew up. She came and went back a couple of times and I think she monitored my growth with how much I cried each time I left her at the airport….and slowly I learnt to let go. I would write her a box of notes, (about a 100 each time) that she could open there as and when she thought of me. She had them pinned on her wallboard at her desk, I saw them when she skyped me…it made me smile secretly inside, knowing she too missed me….at least a wee little bit.
She’s back home now, graduated and all set to work. An adult now. “Those notes helped me mom.” She admitted later, “When i was much younger you used to send them in my lunch box when I first started day school…so that I always felt your presence. And in London, they didn’t allow me to miss you Mom, because I knew, no matter where I was you were always with me. And now I think you know that too. There will be friends, even a special person perhaps who will steal my heart but there will be one place that will always be yours. We feel that connect don’t we Mom.” My little baby had grown up…. And it was time I did too.
It’s not that we don’t have our arguments, nor do I agree/approve of everything she does or says. But with all the realism of the changing dynamics of a parent child relationship I have to say, that with daughters….there is a language beyond the spoken word, the commitment beyond what any other relationship can be. We can laugh at the same thing before the joke gets completed, see the sadness, feel the pain without being told….there is a different connect. And I feel blessed to have experienced this overwhelming feeling of being a daughter’s mother.
If I had any apprehensions of questioning this feeling, they were put to rest when I hugged her tight and got her curled up onto my lap, when she said as I painted her nails (like in the song, Slipping through my fingers in the movie, Mama Mia) “Mumma, I hope I can love my children the way you have loved me.”