I only have one daughter, but while visiting her this week and watching her interact with her two daughters, thirteen and nine, I’m grateful that after my girl was born, I had two boys. Boys are easier. One girl is hard enough. Two can drive you nearly crazy. Three can take you straight to the Loony Bin, drop you off, and throw away the keys.
My granddaughters are terrific girls, smart, talented, generally thoughtful, at least to people other than their mom, and I have no doubt that when they grow up, they are going to be amazing women who do great things. It’s getting them there that is a trial. I only have to be a witness to the process since I live so far away. But my daughter has to be in the trenches day after day, and it is taking its toll.
I think back to my years of raising this precious daughter of mine and try to remember the details of that time. A few moments stand out, like when she sneaked out of the house in the middle of the night with a friend who was on a sleepover, and I didn’t discover it until the wee hours of the morning when I went to check on them and found my daughter’s room empty. You don’t forget the feeling of calling someone at 3 A.M. to tell them that the daughter they had entrusted to you is nowhere to be found. I know there was the eye-rolling, the “Oh, Mom” moments (two syllables on the Mom), the monthly moodiness, and occasional deceptions (forging my signature on a progress report she didn’t want us to see), but I don’t remember the day-to-day head-butting and whining and complaining I witness my daughter experiencing. It wears me out just to watch her, and I know it exhausts my daughter. Raising boys involves much less drama.
Was my life as a mother raising a daughter as wonderful as I remember? I have vague stirrings in my memory that it was not, but what I’m left with now is that all the good times far outweighed the bad. And I have seen my granddaughters in many moments of graciousness when they were so kind-hearted and loving to their mother. But when I watch my daughter engaged in a battle of wills, or being taken for granted, or hear the backtalk, I want to say to her, “Some day your memory will present a different picture of this time, sifting out the painful moments, or at least dulling them, and you will be left with the wistful feeling that your time with your girls was all too brief.” I know this to be true, dear Daughter, because it happened to me.