I can feel the heat burning my face as anger is enveloping my little 9 year old body. My best friend and I are both grabbing at the shiny plastic dollhouse mom with desperation and determination. We both want so much in that moment to be the dollhouse mom…not the dad, the brother, or even the baby. But the mom. In our young minds, the one and only boo boo fixer, caregiver, and homework helper. The meal server and tucker-inner. I don’t want to share. I won’t share. We fight to the point that she leaves and I’m secretly relieved because now I can be the mom without anyone else trying to swoop in and play that role.
Fast forward over 30 years…that dollhouse now sits in the basement of my adult home…covered in a sheet and collecting dust. The mom is shoved in there somewhere…forgotten.
But, now I’m left with a new real life challenge to clinging to my own child. See, my children are from a “broken” home and I have to share. Recently, their father’s girlfriend and her kids have moved into his house. And into my children’s lives. My son is so easygoing and young and I think it has little affect on him. But, my 13 year old daughter. That’s where I cling desperately and with determination to my role as her mom.
The girlfriend is “nice” as described by my daughter. She takes her to get her nails done. Takes her shopping at Sephora and buys her expensive makeup. Sends her texts about how she’ll always be there for her.
There is no way my daughter sees me as “nice” these days. We battle about everything that teenage girls and moms can possibly battle about. And then some. I’m sure it’s easy to embrace this new “mom figure” and all the perks she offers. I know I’m SUPPOSED to be happy that my daughter has another woman in her life to help guide her and care for her. Easier said than felt.
Here is what I want to say to my daughter-
I hope you know…
I hope you know that I love you even if I don’t show it in the ways you want.
I show it by fighting with you about doing your summer reading assignment.
I show it by dragging you to math tutoring every week while you yell at me about how mean I am.
I show it by taking you to counseling that I can’t afford every week to work out all your teenage feeling.
I show it by saying no more times than I can count.
I show it in all these ways and more. None of them are “fun”.
I don’t take you to get acrylic nails when I need that money for your tutoring.
I don’t take you to buy expensive makeup. Partly because I can’t afford it and partly because I want you to feel beautiful looking like a 13 year old girl instead of a grown woman.
I know this makes me “mean and boring.” I know that I’m threatened by how your other mom figure is fun and easy-going.
I want you to know how much I love you. How much I want what’s best for you. And how that’s not always what you want.
This is what I would want her to know as we navigate this new time and this new family dynamic.
I’m still clinging to the mom role, and I’ll never stop.