I think I embarrass my daughter. Not in the way we all are embarrassed by our parents, but in a real and deep way. I think she thinks I'm stupid, that I've lost all my creativity, that I've given up to work where I will get nowhere but up a corporate ladder that has no way down except to fall. She might be right, except about the stupid thing.
But it hurts.
My advice is worthless, while her father's is gold.
My efforts to help her are pathetic, while her father's is desired.
My love for her is pitiable and cheap, and her father's is everything she seeks.
And every hour, every minute I feel this, it is real and deep and it feels like all the things she thinks of me. It all becomes what she already believes.
She doesn't know what I gave up, even just for her to be alive.
Her father, whose breath she would save in little perfume bottles for later if she could, he announced one day while we were walking back to our tiny, one window apartment that I was not going back to school while he was. He decided it made more sense. We had limited money. He was closer to finishing school. He didn't realize I was closer to going crazy without school.
But I did what he told me. I went to work in as many places I could. And he went to school.
And I got pregnant and celebrated my 21st birthday with grape juice.
He still thinks I'm stupid. He used to think I was brilliant. Some part of me still tries to impress him though we've both gone off with other people and had more children apart from each other. But I'm sure that even after my books are published, he will read them only to chuckle to himself when he finds a grammatical mistake. If he reads this, he's doing it now.
I was desperate once. I even stooped to ask for his help. It was during a time our daughter was struggling in school and didn't want to go anymore. We were trying to convince her to keep at it. In front of my daughter, he explained to her that she needed to go so that she wouldn't end up like me.
I know what I am. I know I'm resilient (what my most fabulous cousin calls me). I know I'm strong. I know I have crazy talents that shouldn't be given all in a bundle to just one person. But I love my daughter. And it feels like my skin is being peeled off me every time she rejects me, even my smallest gesture.
I think she misses who I was when she was little, the crazy spontaneous mom, but I think she sometimes missed out on how really stupendously crazy I was just trying to balance everything so she had what she needed and I felt constantly like I failed her.
I think what's worse about this is that I think I made my mother feel exactly this way, only there's no way for me to correct it. She's dead and she always will be.
Send, it is.