She was a beautiful, easy-going baby and our time together until she started daycare at 18 months is among the favourite months of my life. We had ups and downs; at three week’s old she was tested for Cystic Fibrosis because she screened positive as a Newborn. Before the test, and when the possibility of her having the disease was a dark shadow, I spent my days in tears. We exhaled a giant sigh when she was found to be a carrier, but not to have the disease. And then there was my undulating depression and ever-present anxiety. That made our lives together more difficult. And yet, I have washed the painful memories from my mind and I remember instead the mornings we spent snuggling in bed (she loved to sleep late), the afternoons out on walks in our neighbourhood (she loved to ride in the stroller) and the way we were able to steal time together in perfect intimacy while my husband was at work and my oldest child was with his grandparents. It felt like a gift – these golden slices of caring.
And as she grew she began to show how wonderfully unique she was: she marched to her own beat, expressed herself in fashion prints and patterns, bright and muted colours all thrown together in a signature style so perfectly her. She has a keen sense of colour and where someone else would paint their sky blue, she will paint her sky pink.
And as she grew she began to dig her heels in so deeply at every push and prod from us that peaceful mornings of warm togetherness, and active afternoons taking it all in shattered into full-out mornings of red-faced tantrums and fists to the earth, afternoons of tears and shut doors as we both tried to come to terms with our overflow of emotion. When I said left, she said right. When I went up, she went down. And the anger and resentment settled between us.
There is a beautiful line from a book I once read, about caregiving. “We’ve been split open.” This is how it feels.
She began to cling to me before every goodbye, knowing what was to come. And I knew that as I wrenched myself from her and turned away, there was turmoil happening inside of her little body and that I can’t help but feel I put it there.
I cry about it a lot that overwhelming burden of feeling I have somehow failed her. This is somehow my fault. “Oh you know this isn’t true. It’s not your fault.” my counsellor said. I don’t care if that is what stands to the light of reason. I think it probably is my fault.
I was sick when I carried her in my womb. I fall apart a lot. I have genes that I passed along to her, and she is a tiny expression of me. All me.
I am thinking a lot lately about the mother-daughter bond. How fiercely I love my own daughter, and will do everything in my power to make her world right and herself in it. How deep that bond runs. As hard as the fight is, it is one I will keep at because her light deserves to be seen and I will go to the ends of the earth to clear that path.
If you too are lucky enough to have a daughter or mother in your life, go to them. Forgive the wounds of the past. See the beauty in what has been, what is and what can still be and celebrate one of the most amazing relationships in the world.
I was inspired to write this post by recent events in my life but also because Netflix released Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. To explore more about the mother-daughter bond go and check it out. We are provided with consideration from Netflix, but opinions here are all our own. This truly is a slice of my private life and I appreciate your delicate care of this story (no negativity please). I am sharing this for all the parents who work hard each day on behalf of their child facing challenges.