So, for a little prospective trip down memory lane, today's ramble comes from the reaction I received today from a newly turned sixteen-year-old. My oldest daughter hit her sweet sixteen just this past Sunday, on Easter Sunday, on the year it was my ex's turn to have the girls for the holiday; and as such I didn't get to see her. I wondered amongst great pangs of grief what I could do from six hours away to make her day special. The Quinceañera she asked about maybe getting last year was, in no way made a reality. I didn't get one, and my dad was the Mexican in the family, so why bother handing down another lost and meaningless tradition? Especially now that it's mainly just another reason for rich and fake latinos to show off their money and we live in Canada where were were not, and still are not, surrounded by an extensive Hispanic community?
She was not going to get a car. Her father works two jobs. I'm hundreds of miles away living paycheck to paycheck. I thought about arranging a delivery of video camera accessories to show up at her door, but how would I know if she would still use them? And if she was still interested in making videos? And what I got the wrong kind of tripod or external microphone? The beauty products things has been way overdone. Money is a kind of copout and bland and pretty much the ordinary. Even though teenagers love money.
Flowers. She had never received flowers. Probably from anyone, but especially never at school, much less a job or other public place. Probably certainly not even in non-public places. Ohh, how I hoped this would brighten her day!
Flowers seem so... passive. I thought. I like getting flowers, but not every women really cares about that. When another gal from works gets them, it's all very nice and well, happy for them, but meh, seems like they're an overdone medium. And I don't have to get them. It's not like I'd probably even miss not getting any, just because it hasn't happened very many times and I have no expectations of getting them. Like. Ever.
However, I have received them at work and it has been quite lovely. And I know that my daughter has never had that experience. And while I thought about the possibility of being the plain, old mom that ruins her first set of flowers from a boy, I still thought it would be okay. I still thought it would brighten her day. And it still won't ruin the moment she gets them from a special someone, because those will be from him, or them, or whoever else that isn't me.
Fortunately for me, her father works in her school, so he was able to capture her reaction and text it to me. But the reaction I received from her choked me up even more. She told me (and I'm paraphrasing) through thick and thin, we will always love each other, that the distance may make us momentarily and temporarily bitter about the nature of our arrangement, but that nothing could ever stand in the way of that love.
These were words of a SIXTEEN year old. Sixteen! A child! And a young lady! My young lady! While standing from the vantage of a mother who, on one hand, would expect no less of the child I raised, I can't help but be enormously heart-exploded about it!
There are adults in the world, adults who I'm surrounded by, good and bad, for crying out loud, with less fortitude and contemplative reflection than that. But most hard- and heart-hitting is that moment. The moment. The moment you thought, as a parent, you ruined because of the ways you reacted to all the hard knocks of life actually dissolves into this time-traveling sort of undoing, where the actual beauty lies right before your face --- the beauty of your flesh and blood coming at you to say all the things you were trying to teach her, from her own lips, in her own way, completely stripped of influence.
For one second in time, you realize the influences that have surrounded her, but you also identify the pure light in her soul where, in that second, she's saying from her own heart, her own mind.
For one, tiny, mini, millisecond of time, all of the hard work you put in, all of the hours spent toiling over their well-being, all of the mistakes you scoured over, all of the lullabies you sang announce their worth in a loud, eye-blinding light when the free-agent voice of your child comes back to you with words like that.
She is the first lesson I ever had in unconditionally loving another human being. She has made me a better person, but also a better daughter and inspires me as a mother. I love you, Rori. Happy Sweet 16!