14 April 2010

What I Cannot Give Her

Each day I feed her and bathe her and laugh with her.

I take her for walks, read to her, hug her and sing to her.

I'm not sure how many times I tell her that I love her, but it's numerous. Some might think that saying "I love you" over and over makes the words lose meaning, but each time I say them to her, part of my heart aches from what I feel when I'm speaking.

On a daily basis, I give her vitamins and her medications, and a roof over her head, a warm room with "i carry your heart with me" painted on the wall and homemade afghans on the bed to sleep in.

Lately, though, I've found myself trying to give her things that I think she's going to need for the long haul, because with the visions of fairy tales stripped from my head, I'm starting to realize what a long haul it is going to be.

I'm slower to kiss her "owwies". "There's no crying in baseball", I say to her, then kiss her after she insists on it repeatedly. She still thinks I'm magic that way. I feel a liar to let her believe these things.

I feel like somehow I need to instill other things in her; not "girlie" things, not comforting things, not hugs and coddling, but tools that are going to make her capable and strong and un-needy.

I want to make her a fighter. I want to make her the type of person that gets knocked on their ass and instead of crying, gets back up and goes at it again, over and over.

I want to make her realize the value of herself, of what she has within her, of what she can have within her.

I want to make her a girl that is secure enough within her being to not look for a missing man in all of the men that she meets.

I want to make her a girl that loves me enough not to hate me for what I cannot give her.

I want to give her so many things, so many things, and I'm afraid that no matter how much I do give her, it will not ever be enough to fill the void that I'm worried is already growing within her, the ache that she can't quite place her finger on.

I want to take that heart of hers and keep it wild and free and open, and at the same time, I want to cage it to keep it from the wounds that are undoubtedly going to leave it scarred and tattered.

And I have absolutely no idea how to do this, how to be this person, and it's scaring me in ways that I don't know how to put into words. It has me staring at the ceiling in the dead of the night and wondering if I did right by her when I thought that I could be enough of a person to take care of her and provide her with what she needs.

"I have no idea what I'm doing", I find myself saying this over and over lately and it's only a matter of time before she recognizes that, before the person that she sees when she looks at me and the person that I see in the mirror before me are the same.

And there are so many things that I want to give her before that day.

36 comments:

Joker The Lurcher said...

but what we can give them is unconditional love and security - life will teach her about the hard stuff. this is a great post - just how it feels

KC said...

I often feel like I don't know what I'm doing, finding my way without a compass...by feel, hope, trial and error. But you will do right by her. You have so much to give, babe.

Chaotic Joy said...

The raw openness in this post leaves my heart aching for you. I hope you know we all feel this way to some extent, whether we are parenting alone or not, the questions of whether we will do it right, be enough, give them what they need to feel whole.

Your words are gorgeous.

slouching mom said...

"I have no idea what I'm doing."

I feel this way every day. I suspect we all do.

You've gotta give her a little credit. Some of this stuff she will learn on her own. She's strong and smart.

Hang tough, sister.
xxoo

bubandpie said...

Would it help to acknowledge that you cannot possibly be everything and give everything to her? But you are surrounded by family, a wonderful wealth of family who will give her lots of things in addition to the things you give.

Jonas said...

Give her love, unconditional love, and she will have received all that she truly needs.

Her Grace said...

There is no one better to parent Little A on this Earth than you. That's the great thing about being a mom.

You may not think you know what you're doing, but your heart does. Just listen to those instincts and believe it's all going to turn out ok in the end.

Self-doubt is a powerful voice, but it's only that -- a voice. Shut it up, look in the mirror and see what Little A sees: her beautiful mother.

NotAMeanGirl said...

That was beautiful. In some ways I'm fortunate that I'll never have to have those worries... raising a son is very different. I miss the opportunity to try though. You're doing great. The fact that you worry about those things shows you're going in the right direction. Hugs and keep your head high... it'll teach her to do the same.

InTheFastLane said...

There are many things, no matter the circumstance, that we cannot give our children. We can only give them the foundations and then their life is their own. By virtue of the fact that you worry about this, I think you are doing all that you can.

Kellan Rhodes said...

"before the person that she sees when she looks at me and the person that I see in the mirror before me are the same." This will be your day of awaking, I think. As I believe that the way our children see us, far exceeds what we really think of ourselves. She is "watching" you, learning from you, loving you. While some of the things we do will certainly lead them down a stray path, we have to believe that they see the good - they are searching for the "good". She will take the good and in her face and in her life ... hopefully ... we all hope ... we will see that "good" of ourselves in them.

My father said to me recently, "Of all you children, I am the most surprised that you are the one that turned out as you did," implying that I was not the one he assumed was ever listening to a word he said, as that is certainly the way it always appeared. I told him, "I was the one in the background. I was the one with my head down. I was the one that wanted you to believe that I wasn't aware or hearing your words. But ... I was always watching. I was always listening. I learned it all."

We all make mistakes - and the mistakes our parents make are part of what makes each of us what we will be - good and bad. But if they loved us and showed us love - then we pass that on. It's the most important thing.

Janet said...

She'll know that you loved her fiercely and unconditionally. It's the foundation on which all the rest is built.

Amanda said...

None of us can have or give it all. You don't see it, but she has things the other kids don't. And the ache she has, it will inform who she is, not make her weaker or broken, just her, exquisitely and perfefctly her. You must trust yourself, your daughter, and as white knuckle scary as it is, the universe. Don't overcompensate, just because she has a different cast of characters doesn't mean she should miss out on fairies and lavish mama love. You are doing an amazing job, both of you. Solet her be delicate and let her be tough, just don't oversteer either way. And for god's sake, get out to the Adirondacks and visit, ok?

Nicole said...

Very well written. I've been wondering these things myself lately, and my little one isn't even home yet...

flutter said...

You know precisely what you are doing, friend. As she grows she will see you as the very thing you are teaching her to be.

She will be as beautiful in spirit as you are.

Donna said...

I believe there is some truth that you don't miss what you've never had. My nephew, now 26, grew up with no contact from his father and, from all outward appearances, is fine today. He knew he was loved and wanted and that his father was just a jerk.

Also, don't try too hard to make Little A into what you think she needs to be. She is what she is.

justabeachkat said...

Just love her...that's what's most important. And you do. And she'll be just fine. Promise.

Hugs!
Kat

painted maypole said...

oh Jenn. I wish I knew. this "I want to make her a girl that is secure enough within her being to not look for a missing man in all of the men that she meets. " really struck me, because I had a friend who was like that. And yet I think it is INFINITELY better than being with a man who is not the right man for you or for your children, and so you do the best that you can, and even the fact that you are aware of it will help you to teach those things to her, because you know that they need to be taught.

carrie said...

You are a wonderful mom, and you don't have to know what you're doing, because you're doing it right. And that's all that matters.

Becc said...

Jenn- You ARE everything! I cannot express to you how much that I admire and love you. That ckild loves you SO much! Yes. You did and are doing the right thing. We both know that there is enough heartbreak in this world. You continue to kiss those owwies and hug and love on her. That is what she will always turn toward and deep down you know this.

I miss you.

Tuesday Girl said...

This post really spoke to me. These are all things I want for my children for my daughter especially.

Wanting these things, and trying to give them but knowing we cannot fully makes us mothers.
true mothers.

jen said...

she is so lucky to have you, jenn. all you teach her will indeed serve her well.

April Brandon said...

Do any of us ever know what we're doing?? I'm glad that i'm not the only one who asks myself that question in the middle of the night.

Trenches of Mommyhood said...

You are helping her become "that girl", Jenn.
You are.

tiff said...

h my So beautifully written.
I think we all wonder if we are doing right by our children. All we can do is our very best. At some stage (and for me that stage is coming quickly with my eldest) you have to let them dive in and hope you have told them enough to hold their breath.

The fact you are worried that you are not giving her enough, shows your absolute devotion.

Ally said...

I know you don't feel like you know what you're doing, but if you're living out even half of the intentions articulated here, I think you're doing an amazing job. And in the end, the unconditional love that you're showing to your girls each day will get them through. It will.

Redsy (formerly CrankMama) said...

What we most want to give our children (strength -- love to fill the voids, toughness) they learn on their own --from the spills and hurts of living a full life.

Because you love her so much, you give her the wings to fight her own battles...

If she's anything like you, she'll prevail

Major Bedhead said...

If you are there for her, there for her to go to when she gets her heart stomped on as well when she has the owwies, you will give her everything. You can't possibly toughen her up on her own; part of growing up is having to learn those lessons on your own. You had to, we all had to.

This parenting thing is scary and I often feel clueless. All I can do it keep on trying, keep on loving my children and keep on being there for them, giving them unconditional support and love.

Not a Princess said...

Jenn,
I really think there are far worse things than growing up without a father who doesn't want to be there. It would be awful to be the child he "sacrificed" his own (selfish wretched horrible) life for. I hope that someday soon you'll realize how lucky you and Little A are that you are not the people he settled for.

Keep kissing those owies. That's a mommy thing she shouldn't miss out on.

jeanie said...

Isn't it funny - in a perculiar way - how a theme crops up when you go for a little blogsurf.

I am sure that, as parents, we all do our best to give our children the lessons we feel they will need in life - and we all know that there will be one or two we weren't aware that they would need.

I just hope that moment is tempered by all the good that I try to pour into my mothering, and that I don't come out too scruffy in the eyes of my daughter... Oh, and that I have saved enough for the therapy to cover my shortcomings...

Christine said...

You aren't lying...your kisses are magic. My son once asked me how I do that, how my special kisses can make boo-boos feel better. "It's the love," was my answer. "The love in my kisses heals your booboos." He is nine and still asks for kisses...they still work.

Your love will heal all kids of booboos, Jenn. Trust in the magic in YOU.

Seattle Mamacita said...

she'll get it... with a strong mama as a role model she'll "get" all of those things

Lawyer Mama said...

I often feel this way too, sweetie. She'll think you don't know a damn thing for awhile but then, if all goes well, she'll later realize that you did a pretty damn good job anyway.

bgirl said...

oh how your words resonate and tap at my own fears and concerns. remember that you don't need to give her everything and what you are giving is so so much. with all that, she will be open to wonderful experiences that will continue to fill her up, all because of the opportunites you are providing.

Kimberly said...

"I love you" will give her so many of those things, all on its own. It's quite possibly the best magic shield you CAN give her. Every time you tell her that, you're telling her all those other things about how much value she is, how special she is, how much she adds to the world just by virtue of being herself.

So don't stop. Because you're right, saying it over and over again doesn't diminish the power of those words, it buffs them to a shine that will rival the sun's.

crazymumma said...

Admiting that you sometimes have no idea what you are doing gives the very strength she will carry forth.

WhyMommy said...

But you do know. I can tell. It's in your words ... it's in your heart.