For Monday, October 3, 2011
I read only the first twelve pages of the book. Within those opening pages is a description of how Monk Kidd is observing her twenty-two year old daughter and how she, now grown, is ready to move on with her adult life, She is “struggling to figure out the beginning of being a woman” while her mother is struggling to figure out “the beginning of the ending of it”. Intertwined with Monk Kidd’s explanation of her latest behaviors as she studies her aging face and how “out of boldness or recklessness “ she moves to a new home, the author admits vulnerably that she misses her daughter “almost violently” and that she is “possessed by an acute feeling of loss”. Moving into a story of Greek goddesses Demeter and Persephone, Monk Kidd shares her insight on her relationship with her daughter--what it was and how it is changing. She knows that her daughter is being “rightly abducted by her own separate life”, but as she says plainly, Mom “wants her daughter back”. She likens her relationship with her daughter as having fallen into a “strange purgatory” and she hopes to “reforge (their) connection”.
It never fails to amaze me how a book can find me when I need it most. I may be 43 years old and my eldest daughter only 19 but like Monk Kidd, I too have participated in the establishment of new rules of parenting. I too have struggled to let my eldest daughter go while “unconsciously seeing her as an appendage of” myself. I want her to craft an identity separate from me as is healthy, and as she most certainly is doing, and yet, to find full acceptance that my maternal role is to watch this woman evolving into a young woman without working endlessly to provide a net or counsel the way I always did, is simply not easy.
Last fall I was proud of the way I had handled Sydney’s move to college. I did not cry beyond the first hour after she left and although I did have two more children in the house to keep me distracted, like Monk Kidd I was also thinking, with smugness perhaps, that I was well adjusted. I have many interests, creative passions, a spiritual journey, and a career separate from my role of mother. I have a life of my own. The growing separation between Sydney and I is normal and good. She came home only a few times in her first year and those visits were full of her stories and her accomplishments. But what I was failing to acknowledge was that our old life “dissolved” and this new adventure before us had pulled us both into a new awakening.