This post: I Miss My Daughter and She Sleeps Right Down the Hall
There’s so much about motherhood I was fully prepared for…
When I became pregnant with my daughter, I immediately darted out to the store to buy the epic pregnancy book, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” I spent hours scouring through every single page so I’d know exactly what to expect.
Then, in my daughter’s infant and toddler years, there were countless other books on the shelves that offered every parenting tip and trick imaginable. From how to treat diaper rash and how to handle temper tantrums to getting your fussy four-year-old to eat their veggies and easy ways to transition your toddler from the crib to a bed – help, guidance, support, and the occasional much-needed “Don’t worry, mama, this is all so normal” pat on the back gave me the assurance and confidence I needed to get through another challenging day of momming.
Fast forward to my daughter’s teen years and I feel more clueless now than I did when she was a toddler.
More often than I care to admit, I feel like I’m just not getting this parenting gig right, that I’m fumbling when everyone else seems to have it all together, and that my girl is changing so fast that, at times, I’m not sure I even know who she is anymore.
The hardest part is how much I miss my daughter and the overwhelming feeling I have that she’s slowly breaking up with me… Does she even like me anymore?
I Miss My Daughter and She Sleeps Right Down the Hall
We used to do everything together. In fact, my daughter clung to me like glue. If I was headed to the store for a quick grocery run, she had to go with me. If I was darting out to run a quick errand, she begged to go with.
There were times I desperately needed a break from my kids (even if it was just a 15-minute errand), but she wouldn’t have it. If I left the house, she was always right by my side. (Boy, what I wouldn’t give to go back and revisit those days.)
Every once in a while, I’ll get a glimpse of the past – she’ll plop down on the couch next to me and show me a funny TikTok video or share a few things about her day or the drama happening with kids in her school. Other times, I feel like I get a tiny peek into what’s to come – she’ll wake up on a Saturday morning and say, “Hey Mom, I’m running out of mascara. Can we go to Ulta today? Maybe we can stop for lunch, too, if you want.”
And, oh… you better believe I drop everything (quite literally everything) to grab hold of those moments.
On most days, though, she doesn’t seem to even notice (or care) how much I miss her. She’s far too busy and preoccupied with her phone, dashing out the door to hang with her friends or spending time in her room listening to music, doing homework, or texting friends.
Doesn’t she realize how much I miss just being with her and being part of all the nitty-gritty details of her life?
Doesn’t she realize that with every, “Nah, I’m gonna hang out here,” or “No thanks, I have plans with my friends,” or “I’m just not in the mood to go,” my heart breaks just a little more?
Doesn’t she realize how much I miss how we used to be? The spontaneous trips to the mall. The “Hey, let’s go grab some ice cream” or “Oh, Mom… there’s a new movie out on Netflix. Wanna make some popcorn and watch it together tonight?”
Doesn’t she realize that I take everything to heart and put so much of it on my shoulders? Her moods, her occasional sassiness, her declines to my offers to hang out – I can’t help but wonder… is it me?
Doesn’t she realize that she sleeps right down the hall from me, but sometimes, it feels like she’s a million miles away?
I struggled with these feelings for a long time. I figured she MUST know how I’m feeling and she merely doesn’t care. I sat around waiting for her to notice my sadness and expected her to come to me. Until, one day, I realized I was taking all of this far too personally.
My daughter needed me and I was spending far too much time allowing my hurt feelings to get in the way. While I was crying in my coffee (literally), and, frankly, becoming resentful, (after all, I loved her unconditionally, gave her the world, and sacrificed in ways she couldn’t imagine only to be brushed aside), I was losing precious time with my girl.
Of course, she still loved me. Of course, she wanted to spend time with me. Of course, I mattered. But now that she was a teenager and growing up, she was quietly trying to re-negotiate our relationship.
She wanted things to be on her terms (since they’d been on mine since the day she was born). She wanted to choose when we hung out and where we went. She wanted to have the freedom to back off and hang out in her room if she wanted to. She wanted to reset the scale when it came to balancing things that mattered to her.
I soon realized that when it came to time with my girl, I wasn’t calling the shots anymore. She was. And, I had to learn to be okay with that.
Through trial and error, I learned to meet my daughter where she was at.
When she was chatty, I was chatty. When she needed time alone, I gave it to her. When she wanted to do something together, you bet I was ALL in.
I dove into things she loved… quick outings to Starbucks for her favorite iced coffee, a run to Sephora for new eyeshadow, a Saturday morning thrifting for name-brand clothes with a quick breakfast along the way or maybe watching a movie together that she wanted to watch.
It all sounds very one-sided… which, I’m not going to lie, it was. But teenagers are notoriously self-seeking (I like that term far better than selfish). For a few years, it’s ALL about them. If we know that going in, if we can understand and accept that, it makes their whole “pulling away” seem FAR less personal and FAR more expected and normal.
It’s been a few years since I treaded that tough territory with my daughter and sometimes, I look back and smile. Sure, it was hard on us both and, yes, I struggled to get through that time with her. But it was necessary and needed and normal. She needed to pull away from me and I had to come to terms with that.
And, even though she’s older now, I miss my daughter still and I always will… whether she’s right down the hall from me, in college, or living a life of her own. Because nothing will ever fill my heart more than having her near me where I know I can wrap my arms around her, relish in her presence, and have the comfort of knowing she’s safe and sound.