Rainbows, Pigtails, And Second Chances

Published in The Ferndale Record, May 11, 2011

My daughter has always been a pistol—passionate, and a cyclonic force of nature. It started with her birth, played with my head when she was a child, and continued through her stormy youth. Now that she’s an adult, it’s one of the things I admire most about her. No, I cherish it.

One day when she was six years old and I was occupied with something domestic that felt urgent, she yelled “Mom! Come quick!”  I hesitated, only because, well, six year olds exaggerate and how important could it be?

But a Divine nudge sent me to find her. She was looking out our dining room window, thick, wavy hair to her waist, and in her raspy, somewhere-between-tiny-and-little-girl-voice, she was bubbling over: “Look at the rainbow!”

This is still who she is.

A couple of months ago their country farmhouse sold, and my daughter, her 13-year-old son, a dog and a cat moved in with the boy and me. We’d talked about joining forces for a while, and the prospect of having her under the same roof with me again was sublime.

She left home when she was sixteen and I felt robbed. But in the fiery crucible of that experience, I learned, even though I didn’t like it, she had to leave us. I longed to have her near, close to my heart and home. She needed to be somewhere else. That letting go would end up being a determining factor in our ongoing relationship.

Our life now is something I couldn’t have imagined all those years ago. It’s as sweet as pie.

I love that her personality is all over our property. From her wind chimes on the front porch to the invisible dog fence she buried in the back yard. She fixed up her brother’s old bedroom into a cozy retreat for herself and the animals. She also makes better meals for her son than I do for mine, and it’s not unusual to walk into our house greeted by the glorious fragrance of whatever she’s making for dinner that night.

She’s a musician and I get to hear her practice. Her presence here also marks the first time in thirty years that plants have been kept alive longer than two weeks in my home. I love that her pets not only recognize me but also seem to kind of like me. I love that my grandson and my boy hang out together and have unknowingly constructed that amenable, drama-less, funkily pungent atmosphere one can only find in the home of teenage boys.

Sometimes my thirty-something daughter wears her hair in pigtails or braids and I shoot her a look she recognizes immediately. It’s that one where I’m imagining her as that little girl at the dining room window again. She kindly smiles and gives me a moment to wax nostalgic.

Her humor and spirit liven up any room, and her heart and soul give back to her chosen communities and organizations. When we need to talk about something, we do. We understand that not everything is perfect and we figure it out. We get along. We are friends. I’m the lucky one here, reveling in my second chance.

I’m gushing, but every word is true, I promise.