I keep looking at this photo of my daughter, taken a few days ago.
Just a mundane moment captured: simple, radiant happiness sourced by new succulents.
I mean—could she be any more precious?
Arayla’s beauty astounds me every day. Her bright, sweet presence. Her depth of being, her strength and her softness. Her utter trueness to herself, since the moment she was born.
It’s so important to be astounded by our teenagers. To keep finding ways to openly respect, admire and adore them.
Especially since there are plenty of moments when their behavior does not feel particularly adorable! Plenty of moments when the complexity of our parent/teen dynamic leaves us reeling in frustration and heartache.
Not to mention the cruel collision of maiden and peri-menopausal hormones.
Part of me imagined my beloved girl and I would somehow be exempt from the cultural clichés of mother/teen daughter complexity.
Surely my conscious, wholehearted parenting, alongside the exquisite profundity of our bond, and her old-soul wisdom, would spare us the renowned angst of this transition. Ha! Foiled again.
Now, smack in the middle of it, it’s so clear to me that this archetypal rite of passage in fact requires this achy stretch and pull, this painful ebb and flow of rapport.
Just like the grueling contractions required to push her from my womb 16 years ago, now Life contracts around our mother-daughter bond, to push us into the next season of our relationship.
The daughter has to claim her own self, her own voice, her opposing positions and opinions, her distinct taking up of space, her very own style, her very own walk in the world. Of Course.
And the mother has to let her go. She has to release the reins of control, while carefully tracking and listening and waiting for any moment her daughter leans back in for reassurance, containment and mirroring.
But even if we know this, even if we fully grok the psychology, and firmly respect its normalcy, still it hurts like a heartbreak in moments to feel the shift.
It hurts us both when I miss the mark, when I lack skill and sensitivity. When I say the wrong thing, or ask the wrong question. Eggshells sneak up on us, appearing in surprising new places; topics that were once mundane are suddenly off-limits.
Every day I work hard to let my eyes reflect only love to her, rather than subtle projections of critique or complaint or concern. What a challenge!
Sometimes I can feel the multi-generational conditioning creeping in, and I summon the vigilance to let our exchanges be fresh and free and true to our shared heart’s desires.
I find myself confronted by the presence of my own inner 16-year-old self; the importance of carefully attending to what she needs from me, so that her needs don’t get entangled in those of my daughter.
I see Arayla working diligently on strengthening her beautiful wings, broadening her independence and responsibility. Some days it’s easy to feel only awe and celebration. Other days it scares me to sense her increasing capacity for flight.
Every day I muster up the courage and grace to blow simple wind beneath her wings.
How she deserves all the wind, and all the support, and all the love.
Every single day I gather her in my arms, even if only for 30 seconds, to hold and cherish her, and to whisper into her ear how beautiful she is, how proud of her I am.
I’m still getting used to the joy of her being my size now.
What a gift to stand eye to eye and heart to heart with our child.
Intimate relationship is mysteriously designed to break our hearts beyond imagining, and also to bless them beyond imagining.
Breaking and blessing, breaking and blessing, over and over.
Until we are ourselves so thoroughly broken by the blessings and blessed by the breaking, that all we can do is keep opening to what love asks of us.
All we can do is keep saying yes to all that love asks of us. 💖