Imperfect Serenity

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Thursday, March 30, 2006


My nine-year-old daughter likes to listen to B101, the soft rock station that advertises “five songs in a row.” Of course, whenever you turn the station on, they always seem to be on a commercial, a point I made this morning on the car ride to school. Megan defended the station and said you only get two or three commercials in a row, but her brother Luke disagreed. “Whenever they say, ‘Five songs in a row,’ or ‘Fewer commercials’ that’s actually a commercial because they are advertising themselves. So they have a commercial saying they don’t have many commercials,” he noted triumphantly.

That’s pretty astute for a six-year-old, if I must say so myself. For all I complain about Luke’s obsession with all things Star Wars, he does have a sense of how commercialism works. In early November, for example, when B101 started playing Christmas music, Luke complained, “They’re just getting us excited about Christmas too early so we’ll go out and buy presents.”

Even though my children and I discuss commercialism, it’s still hard to fight it. Being aware of the seductiveness of Christmas music didn’t keep Luke from talking about the toys he wanted from early November until December 25. After Christmas, when he noticed there was one thing on his list that he didn’t get, he started talking about his birthday, which isn’t until April.

Now Megan is begging for a Tamagotchi, a small electronic toy that has to be fed and cared for like a pet. All her friends have them, I’ve been told, and they’re only $15. When I balked at getting her a Tamagotchi, she upped the ante and asked for an iPod.

Evidently, Tamagotchis have been lurking under the desks of her classroom for weeks, but they’ve only recently been discovered and banned by the teacher, to Megan’s great dismay. In protest, she wrote a letter to the teacher and brought it to school for her classmates to sign, an act of spunky political organizing I admire, though I’m secretly hoping she fails. I suppose that’s the danger of teaching our children to think critically and express their opinions: they’re bound to disagree with us sometimes.

I’ve tried to explain that my objections to the Tamagotchi and the iPod are not just financial. I don’t want them getting distracted at school, as I’m sure the teacher doesn’t. I also don’t want them to be isolated from their classmates at recess because they’re focused on an electronic devise, though Megan would argue that being the only kid without one is more isolating. This is the challenge of the age we’re entering, I think: how to resist peer pressure and commercialism in a way that builds community rather than isolating ourselves from community.

Finally my husband and I struck a deal with her. Since Megan has been fighting with her brother a lot lately, we suggested we’d get her a Tamagotchi—to be used only under strict guidelines—if she goes two whole weeks without hitting Luke or saying “shut up” to him. It’s amazing how effective a little bribery can be, though I’m nervous we will be opening our doors to a whole array of products we don’t really need. What will be the next gadget that all the nine-year-olds will cry they need in order to fit in? Getting Megan and Luke both iPods would probably keep them out of each other’s hair, but I’d rather have them engaging each other, and the world around them, even if it’s not always easy.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Maryland Crabs

Our little foursome had a relaxing and fattening weekend on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. We left Friday night and, despite some traffic, had a pleasant ride, punctuated by Luke’s never ending questions:
If someone got really mad and smashed a bunch of ice cream cones in an ice cream store, would he go to jail?
What if it was a kid?
If someone hit a police car on purpose, would he go to jail?
Can you go to jail for lying to a police?
Could a judge go to jail?
If a kid was on a bus and he grabbed control of the bus from the bus driver and smashed the bus into a house, would he go to jail ?

You get the gist. This line of questioning went on until well past bed time, and I started to wonder if some day—during Luke’s trial, for example—the prosecutor will ask me why we didn’t see the warning signs that so clearly foreshadowed his life of crime. Of course it might just be the aftershock of the peace vigil last week. When Luke learned that some of the silent protesters were planning civil disobedience, he became very concerned that we would accidentally walk on Lockheed Martin’s grass and get hauled away.

We managed to evade the police Saturday as we explored the nooks and crannies of the Chesapeake Bay region, despite the clouds and wind. Midmorning we took refuge in an overpriced coffee shop with a sign that read,” Unattended children will be given two shots of espresso, a puppy, and a set of drums.” Megan laughed and widened her eyes since she’s still hoping for a puppy one of these days.

The highlight (aside from the hotel with cable television and a pool) was the St. Michael’s Maritime Museum which completely engrossed the kids for several hours. They ran up and down the steps of the lighthouse. They pretended to steer a landlocked boat away from pirates, whom Luke pretended to shoot with a nearby canon. Megan called him “Matie,” and he called her “Captain,” which is as good as their relationship gets.

Sunday’s highlight was the moment at a bird sanctuary when hundreds of Canadian geese all alighted simultaneously, honking over our heads as we approached their pond. Megan blamed Luke for scaring them, but I think their flight was inevitable, as well as very impressive. I was also impressed by the Third Haven Friends Meeting, boasting a meeting house built in the 1600s. I picked up a book about the meeting’s history and, following my current obsession, landed on the chapter about slavery. The bookstore keeper at the maritime museum had told me that Maryland’s Eastern shore had less slavery than western Maryland or Delaware because of the Quaker influence, but as I suspected, the story was a little more complicated.

From what I picked up from a quick skim of the chapter, there were some outspoken opponents of slavery in the early days of Third Haven Meeting, but then the issue died down, leaving some local Quakers owning slaves and some not. It wasn’t until the 1760s that the issue became hot again, and the meeting played a role bringing the anti-slavery message of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (the regional collection of Quaker congregations that includes eastern PA, southern NJ and the eastern shore of MD) across the Chesapeake to the plantations of southern Maryland.

What struck me was the way different people negotiated their moral stand regarding slavery. We Quakers like to brag about our extremists, people like John Woolman who not only traveled extensively preaching against slavery, but also refused to eat slave grown sugar or wear dyed clothing that came from slave labor. I suspect most Quakers were a little more moderate in their opposition, not owning slaves, but not necessarily forsaking all the comforts they produced either. There were also those, especially early on, who decided it was immoral to buy and sell slaves, but not to keep them if, for example, they had been inherited. William Penn evidently fell into this category. Someone owed Penn money and wanted to pay him with four slaves. Penn reasoned that he could accept the slaves and treat them well or refuse the slaves, in which case the debtor would have sold them (probably to someone more brutal than Penn) to get the cash to pay the debt. Penn decided to keep the slaves, though I heard somewhere that Quaker women from Germantown gave him a hard time about it. He eventually decided to let them go and give them land, though two of them died before he got around to it.

Three hundred and fifty years later, it’s easy to judge Penn, but I wonder what of our contemporary issues will look much clearer in hindsight. I oppose the war in Iraq and take my kids to the occasional peace march, but I don’t refuse to pay income taxes, even though something like 42% of the federal budget is now going toward military expenditures. There are Quakers who do refuse to pay tax on principle, but they are as rare as the people who wore undyed clothing during slavery.

When we got back last night, we had popcorn for dinner in front of the Villanova game, which included a commercial for the army that infuriated me. It featured a black teenager and his mother, who caught him looking at materials for the army. He said something like, “Well, are you going to pay my way to college?” Resigned, she agreed to listen to his plan to “become a man.” Megan asked why I was mad at the commercial, and I tried to explain that I was angry at the army for targeting young black men, who as a group have fewer economic options than white men. I was mad that our government was spending so much money on war and so little on helping teenagers, like the one in the commercial, to pay for college. I was mad at a culture that equated going to war with becoming a man. I sympathize with families that take the ROTC route. I considered it myself when I was in high school, since that was how most of my cousins had paid for college. But I was lucky. Instead of war, my generation got financial aid.

Luke may be worried about going to jail, but frankly the odds are that he won’t. Growing up white, in a middle class neighborhood with two educated parents and a good primary education, he’s still much more likely to go to college than to jail, and without having to enlist in the army first. Our opposition to the war—like our opposition to slavery—doesn’t cost us much. Which makes me wonder, am I the equivalent of the abolitionist who won’t own slaves herself but who still eats the sugar?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Raising Activists

To mark the third anniversary of the war in Iraq, my children and I went to two different peace gatherings. One made us feel hopeful and empowered. The other just made us cold and cranky. I think the peace movement needs to pay attention to the difference.

The first rally was a raucous gathering along a busy but narrow street, a stone’s throw from our US Senator’s house. There were plenty of signs with print large enough to be read from the passing cars, which honked their support throughout the rally. There was a bull horn, and the young man who wielded it made a point of giving the children a chance to lead the crowd with their own cheers. The presence of children was the best part of the rally from my nine-year-old daughter’s perspective. She and a friend shouted “1-2-3-4, we don’t want your oil war” until they were both happily hoarse. They stumbled home an hour later feeling important from getting all those people to honk near the senator’s house.

The second gathering was farther from home, which somehow seems symbolic. Instead of targeting a politician who is at least somewhat sensitive to public opinion, we met outside the grounds of Lockheed Martin, the arms manufacturer—arguably more powerful than the senator, but also more impervious. Our group was also near a shopping mall, so we got a lot of traffic, but we didn’t engage them, which was the first thing my children noticed. Instead of asking passing cars to honk, this gathering met in a silent circle, facing away from the wider world, which we didn’t seem to want to engage. For one thing, our signs had print too small to be easily read by the passing drivers. We were preaching to ourselves, not anyone else.

Let me hasten to say that I love these people who have demonstrated outside the weapons plant every week for years. They are religiously motivated peace activists, many of them Quakers, just like me. I understand that bearing witness is its own calling, regardless of whether or not the witness is effective in the world’s terms. But after three years of war, I’m tired of witnessing just to be faithful. I want to actually make a difference. Just as important, I want my children to feel they are making a difference.

My kids hated the silent vigil, and not just because it was silent. They are Quakers, after all, and know how to be quiet. They just didn’t get the point of standing in a circle on a windy corner of the suburbs. We lasted about twenty minutes, then went to the mall for pizza and bourbon chicken.

Reflecting on it later, I realized other differences between the gatherings. At the first rally, we talked as we held our signs. We spread information and built community. And the community of people who gathered included young and old, black and white, Christians, Muslims, Jews, communists, college students, and at least one military mother. A person with a clip board asked for my e-mail address to make sure I’d know about future rallies. At the second event, in contrast, everyone was white, and the average age was about sixty. No one talked, so no one got our contact information. Trying to get new recruits didn’t seem to be the point.

But it is the point for me. I want my children to feel that witnessing for peace matters. It’s not just a matter of making ourselves feel better. It’s a matter of making the world better. Maybe honking in front of the senator’s house doesn’t make much difference to the people of Iraq, but at least it got on TV. At least the neighbors and the people who drove by that day know that the anti-war movement is not dead or mute. At least the senator knows that his constituents are paying attention, and we know where he lives.

Spring Break

We’re on our fourth day of spring break, so not much writing is happening around here. We have, however, visited the dentist, the art museum, the mall, and two peace marches. I’ve also painted some pipes in the basement, which I would never do during work hours, so I suppose some time puttering around the house is good for all of us. It does feel easier this time around, with Megan old enough to read and Luke old enough to amuse himself by climbing on parked cars, a habit I really have to break him of. In any case, we’re managing without much fighting, so I can’t complain too much.

I’m still sitting with the writing issues, testing the waters. Thanks to those who sent encouragement and suggestions. Hopefully I’ll post more news soon. In the meantime, my article "Sex and the Third Grade Girl" is up on Mothers Movement Online. Anyone who wants to respond to it can post comments here.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Needing Clearness

I’m going to be totally self-indulgent here and go on about my own dilemmas for a bit. I’m at a crossroads with my writing, and I need to figure out which path to take. In such situations, Quakers often form what’s called a “clearness committee,” a small group of good listeners who sit and listen to someone talk about their dilemma. The committee doesn’t give advice, but supports the person by asking questions. I may actually put together a few folks to do this with me in real space, but in the meantime, I decided to write out my dilemma to see how I would explain it to such a group. Since the blogging moms have become a sort of cyber clearness committee for me, I thought I might as well post my dilemma here and see what questions come.

Basically, I have more time now to write than I’ve had in years, and I feel a new energy and sense of mission about my writing. I’ve also felt a lot of joy in the past three weeks as I’ve written articles connecting motherhood and wider social issues. My biggest problem is that I have too many ideas I’m excited about and feel like I could charge off into a big undertaking without “testing the leading first” (which is Quaker jargon for “figure out if this is really what I’m supposed to be doing”).

Here’s some context: I had considered designing more courses to teach at University of the Arts, but at this point I feel clear that I should continue teaching the Apartheid class again in the fall, but no other courses. Other than that, my main work is being available to the kids after 3pm on school days and during the weeks of spring break and much of the summer. We don’t need my income as much as we used to, so I feel free to let go of that consideration and just discern “What am I called to do now?” I also have a sense that I need to think of my writing as service and ask how I can be of the greatest use. This is different than thinking of how I can promote myself. (My agent wants me to “get my name out there” to help sell my book on motherhood.) I have a sense that if I do what I’m supposed to do “way will open” for publication (as Quakers say), but there is part of me that is allured by the idea of a big audience and commercial success. I don’t believe these things are inherently bad, but I know I don’t want them to be ends in themselves. When I look through the glossy magazines and try to think of things to write for them, I never get very far. But almost always when I’ve felt led to write an article, it has gotten published. I have to trust that. On the other hand, I have always felt that my leading as a writer is to make Quaker ideas accessible to a wider, non-Quaker audience. When I look at some of the garbage that gets publicity in our culture, I feel passionate about the need to get alternative viewpoints into the wider culture. This question of how much to pursue an audience and how much to just write away in my little corner of the world is probably the trickiest part for me.

So there are three main options that I can see at present:

1) Focus on writing short pieces, such as articles and blogs. A friend told me yesterday that (with a readership of 2 million) is asking for mother bloggers to apply to do regular columns. They want five posts per week (5-10 hours?) and will pay $500 per month. I could apply to write for the “Faith and Spirituality” category or the “Making a Difference” category. I’m temped to ask them to call me the “lefty spiritual mom” and make the column about the connections between faith and action. Of course, there are many women who will apply for this opportunity, so all I can really discern here is whether to go for it or not. Who knows if my voice would be right for them.

The exciting things about this option include: the chance to reach a lot more people and make them think about things I care about; the fact that this could potentially help me sell and promote my book; the challenge of having a regular column would keep me writing, which is what I want to do anyway.

The scary things: There would be a pressure to produce that I don’t currently feel. I don’t know if this would help or hinder my writing. I’m also not sure how it would affect parenting during the summer or what would happen when we were on vacation. My biggest fear is that if this isn’t a leading, it could distract me from something else I’m meant to do.

2) Write a book about how we teach our children about race and racism. Last week I wrote an article about this which I’ve sent to a magazine. It poured out of me, and many other ideas came about how to make it into a book, whom to interview, etc. It also connects to my own childhood memories and some of the conflicts I had with my mother, so it’s an issue I’ve been thinking about a lot especially since December, though a concern about racism is not at all new for me. This is the idea that I could most easily launch into right away, though I know from past experiences that sometimes I get great ideas that fizzle after a few weeks. I’m not sure whether I should test the waters by doing a few interviews or just wait to see if the idea lasts. One positive is that there are no books out there similar to what I’m imagining, so hopefully it would be saleable. On the negative side, talking about race is so emotionally difficult that I would feel very vulnerable.

3) Write The Wisdom to Know the Difference. For about ten years I’ve had an idea to write a book about the last line of the serenity prayer. I have a file on my computer and a paper file of relevant articles. I have a sense that I will definitely write this book someday because the idea keeps coming back, but the overall structure is not yet clear to me. It’s a strange mixture of religion, psychology, and politics. I have a sense that this is the book that will reach a wider audience some day, but that I’m not quite ready to write it, despite the encouragement after my blog entry about it. Still, I don’t know if it’s a matter of weeks or years. I’m not sure if I should work on it to see how it feels.

These three options are not mutually exclusive. I could certainly write for a blog and work on a book, though I’ve found that writing a book is much easier when it’s not competing with other things for mental attention. Of course, if the blog entries were related to the book topic, that would help…

I wrote the above this morning at a coffee shop and then headed to Pendle Hill, a spiritual study center founded by Quakers where I used to live. I find this place very centering and thought being here might help me feel clearer. I also love their library and found myself drawn to the books on race. I found a book by Wendell Berry called The Hidden Wound. In the second paragraph, he explains why he feels called to write about racism:
This wound is in me, as complex and deep in my flesh as blood and nerves. I have borne it all my life, with varying degrees of consciousness, but always carefully, always with the most delicate consideration for the pain I would feel if I were somehow forced to acknowledge it. But now I am increasingly aware of the opposite compulsion. I want to know, as fully and exactly as I can, what the wound is and how much I am suffering from it. And I want to be cured; I want to be free of the wound myself, and I do not want to pass it on to my children. Perhaps this is only wishful thinking; perhaps such a thing is not to be done by one man [or woman], or in one generation. Surely a man [or woman] would have to be almost dangerously proud to think himself capable of it. And so maybe I am really saying only that I feel an obligation to make the attempt, and that I know if I fail to make at least the attempt I forfeit any right to hope that the world will become better than it is now.

This quote brought tears to my eyes, especially the line “I do not want to pass it on to my children.” It speaks so eloquently to how I’m feeling about racism and the (mostly unconscious) ways it affects us all.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Not Yet

Yesterday I was picking up Luke from his Quaker school when one of his friends started telling him about the violent video game he had played at the home of one of their first grade classmates. Then the boy turned to Luke and said, “When you grow up you won’t have to be a Quaker, so you’ll be able to play as many violent video games as you want.”

It’s a good thing I’m a Quaker, I thought, because otherwise I’d wring this kid’s neck.

This moment was frustrating on so many levels. First, there is the obvious fact of my own violent tendencies and the difficulty of being a good role model while harboring vicious thoughts toward children who are only introducing us to the wider culture. Then there is the wider culture and the fact that someone is making a lot of money designing violent games for children. There is the fact that some parents actually pay for this stuff, for reasons I can’t fathom. And there is the frustration of feeling so marginalized by this label “Quaker” than a first grader can dismiss our principles as something one might outgrow, like an allergy.

I’ve been aware of being in the religious minority lately as I’ve worked on revising my book proposal. I haven’t found a publisher yet, so after re-casing the shelves at Borders to see how my book was different from the other mother memoirs, I decided to emphasize the “lefty spiritual mom” label my agent gave me. In the course of my research, I stumbled on a book called The Excellent Wife: A Biblical Perspective, which initially made me laugh. The gist was that God wants us to stop complaining, reject sin, and submit to our husbands. A friend of mine was in the children’s section of Borders with her toddler, so I brought the book over and read her a few choice lines, and we both laughed at the outrageous sexism. Then it dawned on me: this book was published seven years ago, a year before my first book, which hasn’t been in Borders since Clinton was president. If The Excellent Wife is still at the Chestnut Hill bookstore, that means people are actually buying it.

People, indeed. I looked the book up online and found that it’s fairly high on amazon’s sales ranking, higher than my book ever got. And there is also a workbook and leader’s guide available, if you want to get together with other women to discuss the joys of submitting to our husbands. Wanting to find a juicy quote for this blog entry, I went back to Borders and found, to my great dismay, that the copy that had been on the shelf had sold, presumably to some woman in my community who might at this very minute be promising herself that she’ll be a good Christian and start submitting more.

I actually write in Imperfect Serenity about surrender and serenity and the difficult but important spiritual task of giving up our selfishness. But I put this process in the context of a society that still expects women to do most of the surrendering and talk about the danger of assuming that surrender is all God wants of us. Sometimes, I believe, God wants us to make the world a better, less violent, less sexist place. Sometimes we need to step up and complain a bit.

What frustrates me is how hard it is to find a “platform” for this message, to put it in the language of the publishing industry. As those of you who read my blog last summer know, I am not inherently jealous of writers who get good publicity. I was thrilled when my friend Elizabeth Kostova topped the bestseller list. I was excited for Miriam when she got on CNN. But when the author of The Excellent Wife gets a high amazon ranking, I just get depressed.

What does it say about our culture that oppressing women and teaching little boys violence is profitable, while my message is not? Or at least, not yet.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

It Gets Easier

Ever since my conversation with Miriam and my trip to NY, I’ve just been cranking with my writing. Last week I wrote an essay called “Sex and the Third Grade Girl” and yesterday found out it will be published by Mothers Movement Online. This week I also finished an essay about race called “Learning to Be a White Liberal” and sent it off to a magazine. I haven’t felt this productive in years. Then it hit me yesterday: this is the first time in over nine years that I’ve had six hours a day to write without having to teach, care for my mother, or watch a young child. No wonder I’m actually getting things done.

I’m so grateful that I was with my kids a lot when they were little. I’m grateful that I’ll be there with them when spring break starts in just over a week and during summer break, which is just a warm breeze away. And of course, I still have other obligations. Blue Cross just sent me a bill for my mom for March, if you can believe it, and I have a stack of other mom-related business I should be attending to. Still, I’m appreciating this new phase we’re in and the freedom I feel.

In her book Mother Shock, Andi Buchanan recalls an incident when she was at the playground with her baby and the mother of an older child, a stranger, walked over just to say “It gets easier” to Andi, a moment she says made all the difference to her. That’s what I feel like saying today to all those blogging mothers trying to express themselves between diapers and temper tantrums (yours or theirs). It gets easier.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

My Point

I just had one of those moments when many of the things I’ve been thinking about came together in a flash of clarity. Let me explain.

Nine days ago I had coffee with my friend Miriam Peskowitz and her cute new baby to talk about writing and mothering and how to get important ideas out in a book market focused on celebrity and the simple pitch. We commiserated that the books that got publicity were the ones that can be summed up (rightly or wrongly) in one catchy phrase. The conversation with Miriam motivated me to go meet my agent in New York to talk about strategies for selling my book (a memoir of my first five years of motherhood).

On Tuesday, we had a nice lunch in the Village. At one point my agent described me as “the lefty spiritual mom,” a label I’ve been trying on all week. After browsing Borders Wednesday and finding a book that tells women that God wants us to submit to our husbands, I decided I might enjoy staking out some territory as “the lefty spiritual mom.” Someone’s got to stand up for a different definition of family values, and it might as well be a Quaker mother.

So in a new burst of enthusiasm for my career, I cranked out an article on “Sex and the Third Grade Girl” and sent it to an editor. Then I started another article on what my kids are learning about race. This was inspired partly by a book I’m reading, Learning to Be White, about how white children are socialized, and partly by the second half of my New York trip, a visit to the New York Historical Society’s exhibit “Slavery in New York.” The article also comes out of memories of my fights with my own mother about race—or more specifically, inter-racial dating.

Then Friday night I attended a Mother Talk salon with Andi Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz hosting the editor of Mothers Movement Online, Judith Stadtman Tucker. With a living room full of women, we had a great discussion that went way past my bedtime about the need for a major cultural shift in the way our society regards parenting and gender roles.

Later, I thought about my participation in the discussion and the ideas I’d been writing about all week. My politics has come through in all, but not necessarily my spirituality, which I tend to reserve for audiences I know are interested in that. It got me thinking about my voice as a writer and what I’m trying to say in my work. The other motherhood writers at the salon all have a clear point they are trying to get into the public discussion, a thesis, as it were. Like many Quakers, I’m reticent to be seen as pushing my religion, a quality some view as a Quaker failing. When Malcolm X became convinced that Islam had something to offer black people in the US, he wasn’t shy about sharing it. I’m convinced Quakerism has something to offer the world, but what is my simple catchy thesis?

This is what came to me this morning: How we parent matters. It doesn’t just matter to us and our children; it matters to the wider world. Being conscious about the choices we make as parents, fostering our children’s self-awareness and creativity, teaching them to see “that of God” in other people and the earth—all the issues I wrote about in Imperfect Serenity are fundamentally important if humanity is going to make it through the next century. That’s why motherhood matters and why parenting deserves to be better supported by society at large. How we parent now will shape the future. That’s my point.

Friday, March 03, 2006


Last night Megan and I had another argument. On the surface it was about celery, but really it was about respect and the fact that I don’t feel my nine-year-old gives me enough of it. Of course, Megan thought it was because I wasn’t giving her celery.

The usual spark that ignites my rage is her tone of voice; condescension, disdain, or sassiness can all work me into quite a state. It feels very important to me that we don’t allow disrespectful backtalk, though I encourage the children to disagree with me in civil tones. The problem is that sassiness is more difficult to enforce than other types of discipline infractions. Tone of voice is subject to interpretation and sometimes in the ear of the listener. When I am tired, my threshold is lower. When Megan is tired, her pitch is higher. When we’re both tired, it’s bad news.

As always, we made up afterwards. She explained how she felt misunderstood. I explained how I felt disrespected. We usually feel closer after a fight, but there is part of me that just feels wary now that this battle over how she speaks to me is only going to intensify during the coming years. She’s feeling her power, in a way, her ability to be independent. But then she feels her dependence too and how much she needs me. During the night she tossed and turned, spoke out in her sleep a few times like she was distressed about something. I went in, kissed her head, wrapped the comforter back around her, and remembered that she’s still a child.

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