With tears rolling down my face, I watched my petite, out spoken, 22-year-old daughter Alleea, cross the stage to accept her diploma with her Master’s of Science degree. I am so pleased that she chose my alma mater and that I was there to witness this special occasion. I glanced to the left of me and I saw my 9-year-old Kennedy, smiling and staring with excitement in her eyes. She clapped frantically as they called her sister’s name. She blared out A L L E E A!!! She laughed and clapped with such energy. It made me laugh. Kennedy motioned for me to come closer and she whispered; “Do I have to come to graduate school here too?” I smiled and never responded.
The day went by quickly, but it ended magically when the empire state building shined blue for Columbia University’s graduates! But the magic for my mother- daughter moment happened a week later when I visited my daughter in New York.
As my daughter transitions deeper into her twenties, our conversations have shifted. The same words have different meanings to her and as I mature, her responses have different meanings to me as well. We walked to one of our favorite restaurants and sat for hours talking about my life and the decisions I made. I have never seen my daughter so engaged in my words. She asked the most insightful questions and she sometimes paused as if she could identify with some of my hurts and joys.
It was a very defining moment in our relationship. We walked away from that dinner as different mother-daughter dyad.
I am Human
When Alleea was about seven years old she asked me a question. It was probably the twenty-fifth question for the day and it was only 10am! I was busy working on a project and I was exhausted from the night before. I also was flat out TIRED of answering questions! Alleea then repeated the question, eager to get a response. Without giving the question any thought I blurted out “I don’t know, Alleea”.
Alleea then gasped …I turned around wondering if she had fallen. She was standing there with her eyes wide open in shock and her mouth covered with her hand. I said “What is wrong Alleea?” She said then said the most disturbing ten words that changed my life “I thought you were magic, I thought you knew everything.”
My heart broke! It was the first time I disappointed my daughter and I never knew she held me in such high regard. I tried answering every question after that day! But I grew weary and one day I said Alleea mommy is only human, I am not magic; but I will always try to give you the VERY best advice… but sometimes I will fail and sometimes I will win.
Share your stories
Sharing our stories with our daughters can help strengthen them. It will make them know that they are not alone when they are faced with the same issues. It will also help them identify with you on a human level and it will bring you both closer as you continue to build your connection.