Mamas and Daughters

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It’s a big weekend around here – Canadian Mother’s Day and the start of my third and final trimester carrying our second child! I’ve never been a huge fan of holidays, admittedly; I’d much rather have a long weekend. Give me an extra day to spend with family without the plans or pressures that accompany most holidays! That said, Mother’s Day has caused a little introspection for me this year. This is my last Mother’s Day being a mom to just Hennie and I’m feeling so many feels! Rather than worrying like a normal mom about how she’ll handle all the change that’s coming to our family dynamic, I’ve been selfishly worried about her relationship with me.

Since her birth, Hennie and I have always had an interesting and complex relationship. I suspect that most mother-daughter relationships have these qualities, but having only one daughter (and being only one daughter) I don’t really have enough experience to know for sure. In the beginning I blamed the colic and high-needs attributes for her not wanting to co-sleep or cuddle, but as she grew into toddlerhood she continued to remain pretty indifferent to me, not unlike the beloved cat I had when I was twelve. I begged my parents my whole life for a cat and when I finally got one she completely ignored me and rebuffed all of my attempts to cuddle with or pet her. My response was to forcefully smother her with my affection even as she clawed her way out of my arms. I was never able to successfully convince her to acknowledge me when she wasn’t hungry and I quickly realized that tactic wouldn’t work on Hennie, either. So instead of smothering my daughter in love I have dutifully heeded my parenting instincts, which have instructed me to stand back and let her comfort zone blossom over time, offering attention and affection only when it is asked for. It friggin’ kills me, but she responds well to being given her space.

In time I’ve learned to see her independence not as a rejection of me but as a movement toward her own freedom. I’m happy for her that she self-soothes at such a young age and sleeps well in her own bedroom. I’m happy for her that when she falls her first instinct is not to look for me, but to pick herself up and continue determinedly forward on her own path. I’m not getting the cuddles I always dreamt I would receive from a child but hey, there’s always the next one. And I certainly cannot deny that the girl is unstoppably strong-willed; in fact I had hoped for this quality in spades for any daughter I might be lucky enough to raise.

Things have changed oh so slowly and Hen really seems to love it when we spend time together now. Our weekdays as a twosome are full of fun local adventures and my heart pretty much explodes every time she reaches for my hand or runs toward me with her arms raised. We snuggle a little more often and once in a while I even catch her looking at me with an expression that feels like the whole universe is shining it’s light on me. Maybe after the new baby gets here she’ll regress back to her “I don’t need no mama” attitude, but I’m secretly hoping she gets jealous and clingy and I become buried under babies that my body has made. The future remains a mystery until this baby comes so for now I’m gonna soak up three months of summertime park hangs, iced coffee dates, and hand-holding with my smart, strong-willed baby girl. 

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