Monday, June 20, 2011

In watching  my daughter grow, I have been forced to define and redefine myself as a woman, and more specifically, as a Mother.

This is amazingly difficult.

Of all the roles in my life - daughter, child, sister, female, woman and yes, even wife, Mother is the one which I struggle the most.

This is not because I repudiate the role. No, not at all, although I may joke about wanting to do so on some days. No. It is because for the 3,345 days I have been a mother, my role has never stayed the same. I have never known what is right for two days in a row. I have never been consistently able to know how my daughter is feeling, nor been able to anticipate those feelings in order to smooth her way.

I have to believe that I am not alone in this. I have to believe that my mother - and her mother before her and indeed every mother in the world must look at her child(ren) and think "Who the hell are you and why can't I fix what's wrong?"

Maybe it is a modern phenomenon. Having been raised with the thought that I can do anything, anytime, this inability to do things and then happily tick them off my mental list can be my undoing at times. I mean -


It is clear to me why I sought refuge in "Professional Dawn" during the first few years of Emily's life. It was the relative stability of knowing what I needed to do and how to do it. No second guessing. No hesitation.

Mixed in with this was watching people who had less education, less preparation..less EVERYTHING have a seemingly easier time with their child(ren) than I was having with mine. I envied them. Why was their baby sleeping through the night? Why wasn't their child biting everyone at the child care? Why didn't THEY have to go in for once a week weight checks? What were they doing that I wasn't?

Now professional Dawn would tell you that each baby has a very different Temperament. Combined with Attachment and personality - you get different people. I mean, this is why siblings are Different. Even with similar resources, genetics and parenting styles, you can get wildly dis-similar people coming from the very same gene pool.

But Mommy Dawn? Not what she wanted to hear. Just tell me the secret and be done, dammit - I need to control my world, and this kid is NOT conforming.

Of course, it is how she is built ...Born to be just enough like me, but also so vastly different as to confuse and confound me daily, hourly. From the moment she emerged into the world, she was a part of me that did not belong to me. Someone I knew intimately...and who was a complete stranger.

Yes. There are days when I am still shocked to find myself a mother. Still a bit stunned to be in the presence of this emerging young woman who is my daughter. Befuddled to sit in the same room with my mother and daughter, watching them interact in a way that I am not privileged to join. For that woman who is playing with my daughter - she is Not my mother. She is Emily's grandmother, and she is very different than my mother.

Three natural pearls - each shaped differently with a luster and color that is familiar, yet not at all the same. We each continue to define and re-define who we are together and individually. And it is different, every day.

July 21, 2007 Gimlet Eye

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