Friday, September 14, 2012
What is Left The Daughter
Last night I saw this picture of my daughter, Ayla, almost eight years old, and I thought, for all the worrying our society does about raising strong girls, the truth is that girls are born strong and all we have to do is not mess it up. Then this morning Ayla woke with black charged thunderclouds around her shoulders, probably because I put her to bed last night with them, having reached some sort of a breaking point, my nerves all red and raw and glowing and after she lingered far too long in the bath, in the brushing of the teeth and the homework and the picking up her toys, I finally snapped "forget it, forget it, just go to bed". I told her I loved her and tucked her in, but today she rose from her bed stomping and shouting and near tears. So last night I'd planned to write a post full of optimism, soothed by the knowledge that this is my daughter: coltish and charismatic and born with an intrinsic understanding of how to balance her beauty with her strength, her supermodel pose in soccer cleats, a tiny Tavi who bosses around the boys. She knows how to balance them because they are both hers, she was born with them, she has claim to them each and she knows how to wield both and all I have to do is not mess it up. Then this morning happened, these storm clouds that might be my daughter's dominant trait and I worry about where they came from. Were they bestowed to her by fairies, did she inherit them through my blood, did I give them to her in her early years, a bushel of rotten apples, milk laced through with arsenic? Was it something I did? Is their any horror like realizing you have somehow passed the worst of yourself to your own tiny child? I don't know what to do about them, I only know they are the single most troubling element in my life and I would give anything to take them away from her, except it seems like the one thing that might ease my daughter's troubled spirit is the one thing I can't give. I am not a fairy godmother, I cannot give, nor be, perfection. But having inherited genetic tendencies toward depression myself, I know that if you let it, your pain will teach you to follow the sun. May she never forget how to wield, may she never lose her sovereignty over herself, may she learn, like the wanderers, the orphans turned heros, may she remember the myths, when her spirits feel gnarled and broken like tree limbs, may she turn them back skyward and follow the sun.