Thursday, March 13, 2008

Epistle: To My Daughters, to be read when you have daughters of your own who hate you

My precious girls,

First, please know that I love you, and that it hurts me much more than it hurts you when your behavior warrants conversations such as the one we had last evening.

One day, perhaps you will stand in a bedroom that you cleaned as recently as the night before. You will be assaulted by the brightness of every light burning, despite the fact that no one is in the room, that no one has been in the room, for hours. You will take in the unmade beds, the floor littered with laundry and, well, litter, and the wet towels left to mold on the carpet. You will debate whether to look into the closet, but in the end curiosity will win out, and you will peek. Immediately, you will regret your action, because you will be horrified at the sight of the clothes that you JUST YESTERDAY REFOLDED AND HUNG strewn haphazardly on shelves and on the floor. And you will snap.

When your daughters come home from school, you will perhaps ask the younger one if she has located her missing binder. When she says no, you will grind your teeth as you question her about when she last had it. Your daughter will tell you confidently that she had it yesterday after school, when she sat in the library for an hour waiting for carpool, but during which time she chose not to do her homework.

You: Do you know you had it then, or do you just THINK you had it then?

Your daughter: I think I had it then.

You: When was the last time you KNOW you had it because you took it out and USED it?

Your daughter: Yesterday, in Morah J’s class.

You: Well, then, that’s where you need to start looking.

Your daughter: I already looked there.

You: Did you tell Morah J. you needed to look?

Your daughter: Yes.

You: What did you say?

Your daughter: Well, Morah J. said—

You: No. Do not tell me what Morah J. said. TELL ME WHAT YOU SAID.

Your daughter: So I said, “Well what if you don’t have your Purim packet because you can’t find your binder?”

Maybe the conversation won’t go exactly like that, but if it does, you will know that your own mother has davened very hard for this moment. At any rate, you will somehow find the strength to not break every dish you own or smash the granite countertops with a sledgehammer, because it’s JUST A FREAKING BINDER. BUT HOLY CRAP, COULD WE GO ONE DAY WITHOUT YOU LOSING SOMETHING?

Ahem. But back to you, and your future daughters, dear girls. Perhaps your older daughter will have finished her homework, and she will come and ask if she can watch television. And because of your new “no TV during the week” rule, you will say no, and you will add that if your daughter is so bored, she can certainly go upstairs and clean her sty of a room. And when you hear those words coming out of your mouth, the sheer horror of the fact that you are TURNING INTO YOUR MOTHER will not escape you.

Your daughter will likely respond with a series of grunts and foot stomping that leaves you staring at the creature before you wondering if she is actually human spawn.

She will announce that she is NOT going to clean EVER and she HATES YOU ANYWAY because you are a horrible, horrible person. You will not actually feel too bad about yourself at this point. That comes later.

Later you will go upstairs when your husband calls you to tell you that your daughter is, in fact, NOT cleaning. She is lying on her unmade bed reading. You will attempt to use logic and reason, but you will be rebuffed. Backed into a corner, you will eventually pounce, tossing everything from the closet on the bed and announcing that you are getting rid of everything. You will put back only the school uniforms, and you will take all the rest of the mess from the closet and bag it up.

While you do this, your daughter will scream that she is going to court to sue you. You will ask her who will drive her. Then she will announce that she is moving out, and she will begin removing the sheets from her bed. Your husband will helpfully chime in that she can’t take those, because they’re not actually hers, which will only fan the flames.

You will spend the evening wondering how it is that you have turned into everything you hated about your parents, and what this means for the future. And you will tell yourself that this is normal, that this, too, shall pass. But in the end, you will probably cry yourself to sleep. Because you just aren’t sure, at the end of the day, if your beautiful daughters will know, will remember just how much you love them.

They do. They will.

And at the very least, their trauma is probably not significant enough to get them a book deal.


lisa said...

I hope the fact that I am laughing doesn't fan the flames any more.

I think I had that exact situation with my mother growing up. I never truly appreciated her until the day we brought J home from the hospital. And it will probably be the same for your girls, too. That's just the way it goes. So frustrating in the mean time, though.

Lisa b said...

heh heh what if they get a blog?

You've lasted way longer than I have. I am my mother and it is terrible.