When Big A was between the ages of about a year and a half and four years old, each day I would think to myself, "It will never be better than this". Each day brought new words, endless curiosity and love in the purest form. When they laid her upon my chest, I remember being blinded with light; I was that overpowered by the emotion. I hadn't known the depths of love until I knew her.
Lately I've been struggling with what I feel for her now. She's been going through something that I don't understand because we simply aren't built the same; I feel like I don't know how to relate to her anymore, and she's only eight. She isn't goofy or silly, my laughter isn't endearing to her. I feel like I'm tiptoeing on the tail end of a relationship when we spend time together now, when it's stiff and awkward and you're constantly checking yourself to make sure you're not offending the other party. My laughter isn't funny to her, she's genuinely appalled when I crack up at something that I do that can only be classified as stupid, and I know better than to laugh at anything she does. When I want to reach out and hug her, she draws away and pretends to be doing something else that requires her physical attention. What started as little trickles of difference has now ebbed into an ocean of distance and I feel like no matter what vessel I board to cross the barrier, I never get far from my shore.
Big A never was made of laughter and giggles. Even as an infant, she was solemn and observant, but now she's something more than that. She's coming into her own definite personality, and she genuinely doesn't like me as a person. She loves me because I'm her mother and she wouldn't dream of not feeling the appropriate things for that person in her life, but that's as far as her devotion runs any longer, and it breaks my heart each day. When I was talking to her dad the other day about our latest run in, he said, "She's like me, Jenn, and there's a reason that you and I didn't get along". Internalizers, the two of them are, and when they finally do speak, the words are hard and cold and meant to inflict instant and lasting pain. They both like watching the delivery of the unexpected punch, the crumbling of the opponent, and afterwards, they both feel terrible but cannot recall those emotions when the next argument comes around.
How can I have carried her within me, love her with all of my being, and yet be losing her day by day to who and what I am? Each day I begin thinking, "It looks so peaceful" and nearly each night ends with waves crashing hard on the shore, clouds thundering above. Please come back to me, Big A, seal yourself within a bottle and toss yourself into the waves. I swear that I'll be here, searching the shores until I can read with my eyes the words that I already know are written.