I would like to talk a little bit about my daughter.
The Roo-girl is, at 13, quite the young lady. She is kind, caring, loving, still a mommy-snuggler, and yet at a moment's notice, she is a raging hormonal nightmare, epitomized by that rolling eyeball and the snotty tone that makes me want to rip her vocal cords out through her nostrils.
Ah, the teen years. We've only just begun ... and yet, she's come a long way, baby.
(Way to go, mixing two cliches in one!!)
She was an extremely high-maintenance baby, toddler and preschooler. She was the first girl after my three boys and her father's two. To say that she was treated as a princess is an understatement.
Pink. Barbies. Ballet. Long hair. Spoiled much? Yeah.
But there was trouble in paradise. Her father is the one I have mentioned before. The evil one. The devil's spawn. He who shall not be named.
And after he threw me through the kitchen door in 1997, and the police escorted him from my home, and we went through the child-custody arrangement from hell ...
And he did not die of a pleasant disease. It was ugly. One that he apparently had but failed to disclose throughout our five-year marriage, and one that threatened me and my breastfed baby. Do I need to spell it out? Only a miracle saved me from his fate. I don't know why, to this day, my daughter and I were spared.
Because we were still only separated, and not yet divorced, his death put me in a unique position. I was technically a widow. Yet I grieved not.
And my boys? They had suffered emotionally at his hands. And they rejoiced with me.
We had been freed.
And yet ... I was the mother of a 3-year-old who grieved for her dead father.
For nearly 10 years, I have walked the fine line between hating a man and protecting his daughter from my memories. But please -- do not think me virtuous because I was far from perfect in my ability to do that.
For example, the day that a shrieking, hysterical 4-year-old Roo told me that I had needed to "say sorry to Daddy" and everything would have been ok.
It had been a long and difficult day with her, and this was not the first time this statement had come up over the intervening year. I snapped, giving her a brief glimpse of the horror that had been my life. "No," I screamed back at her. "Daddy hurt me, and he needed to say sorry to ME!"
These incidents cropped up every so often -- mostly when my emotional reserves were low -- but for the most part, my daughter cherishes her memory of a father long gone.
As I believe she should.
Which brings me to the present -- and our recent weekend in the snow. The boys spent all day on the slopes, and Roo, choosing not to ski this time around, spent her day with me.
And so, as we shopped and ate and read and snoided free wifi together, I asked her the following: "What do you remember of your father?"
I don't know what possessed me to ask her. Really I don't.
"I remember that he loved me."
Yes, that he did, my baby girl. He loved you something fierce.
"And I remember falling asleep in his car and having him bring me inside."
A sweet memory to keep.
"But I also know that he was horrible to you -- and that's not cool with me."
So I pressed. Just a little.
"I really just wondered how you feel about stuff, Roo. After all, I've put you into a situation now with a stepfather and ..."
"No, Mom, actually I really consider Wonderhubby to be more of my father than he was. WH certainly is better for all of us."
That sound you may have heard a week ago Sunday was all the breath being sucked out of my body.
From the punch to the solar plexus.
"Really?" I asked in a small voice.
"Totally," she replied with that look on her face that said "believe me, I don't lie."
I am a lucky mom.