Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Roo. Just my Roo

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 ...

He died.

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.


Pamela said...

eyes of children.... they see more than we give them credit

Jenni said...

Wow. You are blessed. So is Roo.

I think you did the right thing in allowing her to keep mostly the good and happy memories of her father. But I also think you did the right thing in allowing her to see just a little bit more. Because now she knows that she should never have to say she's sorry and try to make it better with a man who mistreats her.

~JJ! said...

There you go, much better.

As I said, I want to move in with you with my daughter so you can teach me how to have 13 year old like that one day.

suchsimplepleasures said...

you done did good, woman!!! unfortunately, even when we know the truth, we have to spare our children from it...because, the truth will, most likely, screw them up...
i think you're awesome. i read that other post about the evil that won't be named...and, i think you're even more awesome than i did before i read that!!

nikki said...

Roo-Girl continues to amaze me. Children are far stronger and wiser than I think we give them credit for. It also helps that she has you as a mother.

Around The Funny Farm said...

Wow! Great post! Blessings to you!

And the children always know...


Sadie said...

What a great moment.

I know the fine line that is tread, though not nearly as dramatic as yours. There will always be slip ups, but it sounds like you've handled it all with grace...and that your daughter has learned from that.

Good for her!

And good for you!

anglophilefootballfanatic said...

I LOVE that child. And, she is still your child, even if she is a big ol' teenager. How wonderful that she can keep her image of him with fondness and still have room for what he was in reality.

Irish Coffeehouse said...

Isn't it amazing at what they truly take in and comprehend? As others have said, many times we don't give them enough credit.

I'm glad you two had this conversation! It sounds like both of you needed it.

Kaytabug said...

uh, I think you need tissue warnings!
I just want to hug the both of you!!!
You are both amazing to me.

Robinella said...

Yeah, tissue warnings are a MUST, girlfriend.

And like I said yesterday, I think, she's beautiful inside and out.

Canadian flake said...

Unfortunately, I was in a similar situation with my gremlins...but their father is alive...because of this. they had to grow up witnessing what an idiot and loser he really is...

I used to wish he would die so they could have the illusion of him being a good man..but they know the truth now...

Alison said...

yes, Janet, you are a very lucky lady and an incredible mom....you have been to hell and back and you survived and flourished!!! Roo is an incredibly astute and sensitive young woman...you are right to be very proud of her!!

Bananas said...

You're clearly a great mom to have raised a daughter like Roo!

Mr Lady said...

Janet, ouch. Man, you did right by that kid, and she knows it.

I could go on, because sheesh can I ever relate to this, but that's just unfair to your comments section.

I love it, though.

Tink said...

You ARE a lucky Mom. But she's a lucky daughter, too.

Burgh Baby's Mom said...

Kids see everything, don't they? You are a lucky Mom to have such a fantastic daughter.

Jenni said...

Wow. How awesome that you did not push her into saying that. Kids can see truth more easily than we can.

Simply Jenn said...

And your daughter is a VERY lucky girl!

piper of love said...

I'm glad that Mr Lady sent me hear to read this.

I'm a divorced/single Mom of two boys, ages 8 and 4. Their Dad was abusive to me, he nearly killed me. He left, by the grace of God, when my youngest was 3 months old. I was too battered to get out on my own.

He disappeared.

Then reappeared this year. My boys cry for their Dad, they want him constantly. I have a hard time dealing with it because I want them to love their Dad. He barely shows interest in them. I'm dealing with it the best I can, but it's really really hard.

I never talk about MY feelings about this, I just don't know what to say.

Dory said...

*has goosebumps*

dawn224 said...

sniff. damn that girl is an old soul.

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