Maj had a hard day yesterday. I am not going to go into all of the details here, because it was not that funny. Just imagine rage and anger and yelling and bitterness. All aimed at me. For an extended period of time, and at top volume.
Although there were a few funny moments . . .
Like when she came to me all sour and bitchy and said that she was ready to apologize.
“Yes, Maj? Did you have something you wanted to say?”
“I am sorry that you are the sort of mother who feels the need to blame me for everything.”
Or when she came back to take another stab at the apology.
“I am sorry that I spoke rudely to you. Only I am not really sorry, I just know that you want to hear that I am sorry. So can we just be done with this now?”
“Ummmm . . . no.”
Or this conversation, in which I try to speak with her about controlling her anger a little bit.
“Maj, you have to learn to take deep breaths and let some of this stuff go. You hold a grudge longer and harder than anyone I know.”
“That’s how I am.”
“Ok, but don’t you see how this is wasting your time? The last three hours, wasted, because your sister shot a rubber band over your head. Are you kidding me?”
“That is not all that happened.”
“True, but everything that happened after that rubber band? Is all on you. You are the one who freaks out and escalates and makes everything worse. You see that, don’t you?”
“Yes, but I am thinking that I am just like you. I got this grudgy anger from you.”
“But I am not grudgy! I am the opposite of grudgy where you are concerned.”
“Someone needs to look in a mirror and tell the truth sometime.”
“Seriously, Maj? This is how you want to talk to me right now?”
“Hmmmmph. I bet you were just like me when you were a kid.”
“I was not. Seriously, Maj . . . I was not like this. Ask Grandma.”
“I am not going to ask Grandma. She will just lie.”
“What? Why would she lie?”
“All grown-ups lie about their kids. Everybody says their kids are amazing and perfect so that no one will think they are doing a bad job of being a mom. Grandma will lie because she doesn’t want to take responsibility for who you have turned out to be.”
“Are you kidding me? Grandma is all kinds of proud of how I turned out.”
“You just keep telling yourself that.”
“And also? I do not lie to other people about who you are. I do not try to make myself look good by lying about you.”
“Sure, you don’t. You just go around telling everybody what a bad mom you are.” She snorts, “Yeah, I hear you saying that all the time. You should go around saying that, though. Because you are pretty bad at this.”
“Ugh. Really, Maj? And now we come to the part of the conversation where you go up to your room by yourself for a while. Again.”
She goes up to her room. Where she promptly falls asleep. Rage and rudeness are exhausting.
She only sleeps for a little while, but because of this nap? She is all wide awake at bedtime. She reads for a while. Reads some more. Reads some more.
And then it is midnight. I go in to kiss her good-night before I go to bed.
Hers eyes are big and dark and sad in the shadows, “I am never going to be able to fall asleep.”
I tuck her blankets around her. Fluff her pillow. Kiss her forehead, “Yes, you will. Just lie here and relax, and before you know it, you will be sleeping.”
“No, I won’t. And now you and Daddy are going to sleep and I will be the only one awake in the house. I will just be here in bed, all awake, waiting for the morning.”
Her eyes are all shiny with tears.
“Do you want to come in and sleep with us?”
I make this offer knowing that she will reject it. Maj is not a snuggly girl.
I am very surprised when she says, “Yes,” and climbs out of bed.
In our bed? She snuggles up against me, which she never ever does, and promptly falls asleep. Really? I am wide awake and I lie there in the dark, smoothing her long hair with my fingertips. I close my eyes and think of moms and daughters and love and forgiveness and grudges. I am awake for a very long time, snuggled up against the me and yet not-me who is my older daughter.
This morning? Maj is exhausted.
And I? I am exhausted.
Motherhood is tiring.
I help organize breakfasts and lunches. I smooth collars and a sadly crumpled math assignment. I brush hair and offer advice on which shoes to wear. I promise that I will volunteer for Friday’s field day event at school. I sign papers and permission slips. I sip coffee. I watch as the girls head off to the bus stop.
Kallan turns to wave and blow me a kiss. Maj does not. She never does.
I love them both.
Plus also? I do not suck at being a mother.
And my daughter Maj? She is amazing.