My daughter is getting more and more independent. Yesterday she spent all day taking care of me while I lay in bed all day writhing in pain from migraine. She made breakfast for herself, went to her grandparents’ house for lunch, and prepared the dining table for the dinner that was prepared for us. She prepared her travel bags. Today, I watched her take the elevator, her backpack behind her, on her way to spend the weekend with her grandparents in Bardonecchia for three days and two nights without me. On Monday, I will bring her to the train station where she will board a train to Genoa with her schoolmates, spending two days there, and one night “sleeping with the sharks” at the Genoa Aquarium.
Because there is only her and me at home, she has taken it upon herself to clean up and tidy her room regularly, replace the dishes from the washer, and set the dining table for meals. When she can, she also helps with the baking and cooking. We love doing things together. She likes to make me happy and proud.
Another thing that delights her is giving me full body massages, head, hands, and feet included. I do give her a few cents or a euro for her massage services and she dutifully drops the coins in a coin bank where she has more than forty euros as her savings, which she refuses to spend because she says it is reserved for emergencies. An emergency being me running out of money so I have to borrow from her. I am immensely proud of my entrepreneurial and dependable daughter. I cannot ask for anything more.
“I am sorry I will not be here to take care of you, make you feel better, and make you laugh… but at least you will not have to think about me and take care of me. There will be less stress for you and you can relax,” my daughter said to me as she squeezed a tube of toothpaste in the bathroom the night before.
“It’s okay. I will take care of myself. Thank you so much. I want you to have fun at the park and in the mountains and have some hiking in the nature. I will be okay,” I assured her.
Laying in bed last night after dinner, an onslaught of medication, and a phone call from my husband, I turned over to hug her. We sleep together in my bedroom even if she has her own room because she knows I dislike sleeping alone. She comes to give me company, and most nights, we talk about our respective days before sleeping. She loves doing what she calls “our quality mom-and-daughter time” – a time when she speaks of her struggles at school, and I give her advise. I told her I was already feeling better. She looked at me, smiled, and said, “Yes, you do look better.”
I had spent all of that day limping around with disheveled hair, breathing heavily, and barely able to walk. She spent the day looking at me worriedly and giving me a lot of hugs and kisses.
“You may know this already but I can always tell when you are feeling angry, or sad, or unwell. I can also tell when you are feeling better. Your face looks brighter and you look stronger.” I was glad to know that I am so transparent. I have never been one to pretend, especially not to my own daughter. I like honesty. I always wanted her to know her mother is human, who can fail, who has needs, and who also needs to do things to make herself happy. Even if it meant not being with her.
My brother told me on my last visit to him in Florida that I must ask my family for “alone time” at least once a year. It meant traveling alone to whichever place I want to go to do things I want to do without thinking of anybody else. It gives me time to put things in perspective and gives me time to rejuvenate. Last time I did this in 2015, my decision was met with derision from my other siblings. It left me crying in the hotel lobby where I was hanging out while waiting for my brother to finish his conference with his colleagues. He came with a glass of champagne, kindly telling me that I needed it. My brother is a most wonderful person. He has his own failures but I will always be proud of him.
On that trip in 2015, I made a decision that I am here to prepare my daughter for a future without me. I would like to think I am succeeding.