One of the beautiful gifts in our “new” neighborhood has been meeting our neighbors with a daughter one-year-younger than my Youngest. Neighbor Girl is a handful, very imaginative, very creative, very sly, and a continuous challenge to her parents. But she’s also a really good kid, and she and my Youngest really blend well together. The two flow in and out of both houses with the flow of whatever imaginary game they are playing.
Tonight Oldest had an Honor Choir performance. Youngest is a little tired of these as her sister has been in Honor Choir and Ensemble for two years, and being a single mom, she’s had to attend every single one of them with us.
Tonight, however, Youngest finished her homework and was warmly welcomed in her friend’s home for the evening. Dropped Youngest off, drove up to the school for the performance, dropped Oldest off at the door, went to the outskirts of the parking lot before I found a place, began walking up to the school, and saw Oldest walking toward me, hands in her pockets, head hung. I had read the time wrong by ten minutes … her choir was already performing.
Momma’s in the big ole wappity dog house.
I took full responsibility. She cried. My heart cried, and my head kept me from crying because this was about her and not about me.
Then I said, “Well, we have a good hour or so without your sister . . .” We headed to Kohl’s to look for jeans … found several pair and some dresses to try on. She loved it … having Mommy all to herself … not having to compete with her sister or take a backseat when her sister’s special needs trumped the time together … getting to try on lots of clothes (though I could only buy one pair on clearance).
As we’re driving home, waiting in line at the light where there’s ongoing construction, we had time to really talk.
“Baby, I want you to know something. I know your dad talks bad about me. And I forgive him. And I want you to forgive him, too.”
“But, he’s really mean, Momma! He makes me feel like I’m so bad all the time.”
“I know, Baby, but here’s the deal. He will always be your daddy. He will always speak unkindly about me. He will always be mean. And you will always need to continuously forgive him so you’re not so extremely angry all the time. You will not be able to change him; he is not going to change. But you can change you. And, you will never need to feel bad about yourself at your Momma’s home.”
She had had a counseling appointment today where they talked about this a lot. She has a lot of anger, appropriate and justified, toward her dad. She has a lot of (real) fear towards him, too.
It’s been very difficult these last three years for my Oldest and me to have extended time alone together because Youngest has not had a friend with laid-back parents who could handle her before. And now, now, she does. And I’m crying as I’m writing this because tonight, of all nights, I screwed up, misread the information, and my amazing daughter and I had the opportunity to spend intimate time together during a very poignant time in her life.
“I used to hear you and dad fighting all the time,” she said.
“Really? I’m so sorry.”
“I would come downstairs to get something to drink, and I would hear you fighting, so I would hide behind the dining room wall. Did you know I was there?”
“No.” My heart was sinking.
“I would hear you fighting and slip back upstairs and fall asleep thirsty.”
My heart broke. I took her hand, “Baby, I am SO sorry you had to hear that. No child should ever have to hear that. Will you please forgive me?”
“It’s not your fault, Mom.”
“Yes, it is. And I’m sorry your dad talks bad about me. I know he does that. I try very hard not to talk badly about your dad.”
“Duh-uh, Mo-om! That would be the BIGGEST lie! You’ve n e v e r talked bad about daddy! You’ve always talked nice about him, Mo-om!”
Honestly, I do not think my record is that spotless, but it’s pretty close … and I am SO thankful she has noticed.
And I am SO extremely thankful for such a beautiful time shared with my Daughter birthed from me really screwing up. Now I’m off to email her choir teacher and beg forgiveness so she’s not kicked out of Honor’s Choir!