When I walked into the kitchen last week and saw my daughter baking a cake, I was like one who dreams. Had she been bungee jumping from the ceiling I would not have batted a Maybelline encrusted eye lash; but here she was mixing and measuring–and I knew something had to be up, something was going down. It was a Boston (shudder) birthday cake, a surprise for her good friend. A gang of them walk over from the high school every Wednesday for lunch and she was getting it ready for the next day.
My beautiful beloved daughter. If she didn’t look so much like me and cock her head to the side when she’s intently listening to something I would have to conclude she somehow got switched at birth.
She likes thrill rides, whitewater rafting, mud bogging, quadding and hunting. I like reading about bungee jumping and whitewater rafting–imagining I was courageous enough to try them. I like cooking and baking and planting pretty flowers in the front yard (plants used to play dead when they saw me coming just so I wouldn’t mess with them, but now that they let me near I don’t miss an opportunity to plant, prune or take pictures).
When she was little I would try to put her hair up in fancy braids, but I’d have to hold her down with one hand as she wriggled away. I used to put her in pretty dresses until she revolted and walked around in track pants and T-shirts for two years. I tried instilling a deep and abiding love of poetry into her but she’s just not into reading.
I once forced her to take piano lessons until dragging her there each week with bribes of Tim Hortons afterwards was not producing any degree of musical appreciation and huge ruts in my pocketbook, and I wondered how it could be that someone who had sprung out from within my own body could be so totally unlike me in every way.
Not that I mind, though. I rather like it. She somehow came out of the womb ‘organized.’ I’ve been a ‘piles’ kind of person most of my life–letting things accumulate and then shifting them around now and then. Only as I am getting older am I truly appreciating the logic behind being organized. I hate to get rid of things and she will just tell me, ‘Throw it out, Mom.’
When we moved a year and a half ago, after disregarding her many pleas to throw most of the stuff in my basement out, I had to let other people in on my aboxaphobia problem. Why throw out a perfectly good box that might be needed some day? I couldn’t bear the thought of someone pounding on my door in the middle of the night (for that heavy corrugated waxed one to transport an organ or severed body part in a pinch), and me–having carelessly tossed it into the recycling bin only days earlier.
Because of my daughter I can appreciate my mother in a way I never could before. My mother has always been the practical, no-make-up-wearing, sensible type. We didn’t have fancy ornaments all around the house waiting to get knocked off coffee tables. She dressed me in hand-me-downs and those jeans from Sears with reinforced patches glued into them. I walked around school practically inciting people to kick me in the knees.
My mom is so organized she actually cuts and labels the edges of the phone book–making ‘tabs’ so you can find numbers quickly. Maybe she got this from her mom, who had to keep everything in her head because she was blind.
I wanted Barbie dolls, knickknacks and flowery bedspreads growing up, but that wouldn’t have gone over well in the room I shared with two brothers. So, I tried to inflict my love of all things girlie on my daughter by buying her dolls and Barbie sheets and comforters and a pink rug. She didn’t like any of it–she’s a stuffed animal kind of person.
I wonder if God takes special care to sandwich the generations between each other–a divine trifle of sorts. Layering personality traits throughout the years like a living strata; the bedrock of being. Tucking us in between each other’s strengths and weaknesses for stability, and balancing our tendencies to teeter in our own directions.
Still, I do see so much of me in her, too. Just like I see so much of my mom in me. Some of those things leave me awe-filled and some make me cringe. Like our mothers, our daughters are an honest reflection of our own hearts–the good, the bad and the ugly. I wonder if any of us could truly appreciate ourselves, for who we are, without them.