The emancipation process children go through on their way to becoming adults can often feel more painful for their mothers, I think, than it is for them. I suppose that goes against conventional wisdom about adolescence being the most painful period in a person’s life, but I suspect it’s another one of those secrets women don’t talk about, another loss of self that goes with the exalted and reviled territory of motherhood.
At least that’s the way it feels with my daughter right now. I’ve been waiting for the time when we might become friends again, when I am not either spending all of my energy trying to nurture her, support her, encourage her, uplift her, protect her (often from herself), or alternately feeling attacked by her for some perceived fault of mine. Lately it seems I am public enemy #1 in her book, and at times her barbs are extremely painful.
I am exhausted.
Now, I am supposed to understand, as the adult, that this is just a ‘phase’ she is going through, a healthy emancipation and individuation from me, which necessitates her, for a time, hating everything I am, but it is really quite uncomfortable living in the same house with someone who despises just about everything about you… from the simple things like the way you laugh,  the way you wear your clothes, or the movies that you like, to the precious things you cherish most. It seems to me that the scorn escalates (or perhaps deteriorates) as it does in any other abusive relationship to whatever level is necessary in order to inflict pain.
I will be so glad when she moves out and I feel terribly guilty about even saying that, but it is long past time. This child of mine has taken far too long to leave the nest. No longer an adolescent ( though parts of her seem stuck there ) perhaps this period of time living here has accomplished some unfinished task, some last bit of long-since useful and festering placenta finally broken. What a long transition, to borrow the term used for that stage of labor when birth is imminent and the pain is at its most intense, this has been. Perhaps I should’ve opted for that C-section after all!
In the meantime, I am trying to hold on to the goodness in our relationship, and hold my tongue so that I don’t make the same mistake my mother did with me and alienate her forever, trying not to scream something hurtful from my own place of pain. (again I am struck by the apt analogy to labor pain)
Alas, the alienation of mothers and daughters is a deep sadness of mine. Deep inside my pocket…
Perhaps my silence is a mistake, though. Does it make me a victim, codependent with an abusive person, accepting her mistreatment of me in the name of love and understanding? Does it teach her to be empathic? To understand how her behavior affects those around her? Or am I once again just afraid so much of losing love that I allow the other too much latitude? Where do I look the other way, knowing from my a deeper place of wisdom that this is her immaturity speaking and where does my wisdom rise up to speak the truth of what it sees?
Have I failed her after all by loving her to much? By feeling ultimately too connected to her?
What would the wolf do? Ah… there it is. She would, no doubt, not take a moment of this misbehavior, and snap at her young cub. That instinct in me has gotten so distorted by fear.
Of course, she has thrown away the ‘Women who run with the wolves’ blessing I painted for her those years ago. It hurt to see it in the trash, but I can live with that now. Tonight, it is ok. I know she must find her own territory, learn her own ways, trust her own instincts, strike out on her own. I expect that means no longer relying upon my wisdom, or my prayers, for her.
I have wanted her to fly, after all. (and, after all, that is what the blessing on the flag says, in its own way, so perhaps it is apt that she has thrown it away)
 Precious daughter, beautiful creature of the wild, run with power, run with grace
to the edge of the tallest cliff, which your keen eyes can spy on the horizon,
and roar freedom’s song into the canyon.
Let no predator cross into the territory of your Self and be forever strong.
Trust your instincts to carry you even when legs are weary,
for you are a woman, child, my wild child of wisdom, grace, and beauty.
Howl to the moon!

Yes. It is better for her to trust her own legs/wings/voice than to need mine to carry her. Perhaps it is time for her to throw my words away….
I hope this move sticks. I also realize that I have to do my part to emancipate myself on this end. To not get caught up in the phone calls and the drama from halfway across the continent.
And here I am again, in my head, talking my way through, dispassionately describing what has felt like hell these last months. While wanting to offer hospitality and healing, her presence has felt consuming.I am ready to take my life back, to be nourished instead of consumed. To rub some balm into these calluses of mine, soften these hardened defenses that have accumulated around me.
It is time for my life to begin again.

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