It’s the start of a weekend when only Nia is here, which is good because I have a terrible sinus infection and what we’re hoping isn’t whooping cough (how is this my life?) as well as my stupid sprained ankle, so I’m a bedridden wreck hopped up on cough syrup and steroids, both of which I hate. She relished the chance to choose a pizza and then pay the delivery guy herself and then sit around watching Netflix without me intervening.
But because we have this time together and because it’s not as easy on me as when I had weekends totally child-free, where I’d go to bed at 7 pm on Friday and not wake up until 10 the next morning, clean the house a bit before going out to be a free adult for a night, wake up, roast a chicken for the girls’ return dinner. That helped a lot, but it’s not what’s best for her, and so she’s here with me now even when I’m sick and tired and even when she’s tired and sick of me.
Nia calls me her mom to other people but she still doesn’t call me Mom. I respect that, but I think at some point it will be better for her if she does, if she’s able to hand over that little bit of control she’s still hanging onto for self-preservation. We were out with her mom and paternal grandmother once and her mom said something about how shocking it was that Nia’s dad called his own mother by a nickname rather than Mom and Nia startled a bit. She’s playing with it, seeing how this mom she’s now had for 4.5 years differs from the mom she started with, figuring out what that means. And I’m figuring out too what it means to be a parent to a young woman rather than a little girl, someone who is so independent and so in need of a mom. We’ve really been getting closer lately as she’s let herself get closer lately, as we’ve talked about how we’re vulnerable in some of the same ways and I understand her because I too feel that if I loosen control of anything the entire world will shatter, but I’m older and I know it doesn’t work that way.
So we’ve been watching Gilmore girls, something grown-up for her, a way to talk about bonds and trust and sex and independence and I don’t know if it’s the right choice. I’m not Lorelei, the mom who was a teen and is a friend. I’m not going to get excited about painting toenails and my heart sags a bit every time that scene comes up in the credits. I’m not even the mom who wants to watch a show like this, a very white show about wealth and privilege and coziness. It’s a challenge of sorts for me, but I need challenges, which is why we also went to the mall a few weeks ago, why I limp with her through the gym of people whose bodies she wants to emulate.
We haven’t gotten to the last season yet, though she watches a lot without me, but I wonder what she’ll make of the spoiler. I wonder what a future will look like for this kid who wants to know if she can go to Harvard too, what’s out there for her. Her therapist has been talking to her about crossroads, about taking the path a good kid would take even when you don’t want to, about how even good kids who go down the bad-kid path end up in tough terrain. She is so strong and has been through so much but is at an age where more is expected of her and sometimes that’s more than she’s ready for. It’s hard as a mom to watch that, to support and intervene and hope it’s in the right place at the right time. So we sit and we watch a show about a mother and daughter who instinctively get each other, whose names are the same and looks are the same, and we laugh together and we love each other. That’s something. That’s a lot.