No matter what I do, it will feel like the wrong thing. Allowing her to have a boyfriend. Harping her about homework. Not allowing her to see her friends. Giving in to shopping and a movie instead of a hike. Checking with her teacher about her grade. Begging her to fix it.
Doubting her. Loving her. Wanting her to be better than the me I was at age fourteen.
No matter what, it will feel wrong.
Because she is my guinea pig, my first, my test.
Because no matter how many times she pushes me, I am always going to push back. Because I spent two and a half hours pushing her out of me, and I have been pushing her ever since.
On a sunny Sunday, she tests me again. This time it is about cans. Coats. Collections. And putting on a vest. She doesn’t want to wake up. She doesn’t want to volunteer. She doesn’t want to be voluntold.
She wants to be free. Like the toddler I trapped in the room who would play for hours without my supervision. Like the four-year-old who was fearless enough to have her first sleepover. Like the seven-year-old who I let go to the park by herself. Like the nine-year-old who moved to Spain with me, joy in hand and sorrow in heart, not speaking enough Spanish to realize her mistake. Like the eleven-year-old who tried out the militaristic charter school, who stayed after for forgetting a pencil, a belt, gym shoes… Who came out, unscathed, and better for it.
She is so my daughter. She is every bit of the me I wanted to be, when I was fourteen.
Fearless. Defiant. Independent.
Ready to navigate the world in front of her, ready to manipulate it into the shape that suits her.
And no matter what I do, no matter how much I question myself, I have shaped that shape. I have bought that hoodie. I have pushed her out, pushed her hard, pushed her into this world.