Last night, Jessie and I had a fight.  Which is somewhat unusual, because we don’t generally do that.  Not that we never clash, but it’s not generally a “fight” exactly.  But last night, she was just flat out furious with me.  It’s not unusual for her to get mad at me, because that happens.  She’s ten.

So she had stormed off to her room, after I told her to think very carefully before she opened her mouth again to say something to her brother.  It was a hard night in general, Julie is cutting molars and was miserable, nursing forever (whereas that’s usually a very brief go to bed thing), so I was frustrated with that.  And Jessie was just exhausted and mean to everyone, not intentionally, I don’t think, but she was so tired from staying up so late and being outside running around all day.  Sam had been rambunctious and wild all day, and was the past the point of not listening to me, he was so wound up he wasn’t even aware that I was speaking to him.

By the time I got the other two to sleep and went to check on her, I was really hoping that she was just asleep.  She wasn’t.  She was up, fuming, and I suggested that she go to sleep.  She declined, not all that nicely, and then said “Are we done here?” in the snottiest tone possible.

I flicked off her television set, told her that yes, in fact, we were done.  And there was this moment, just a moment, when I realized that she didn’t particularly care if I was mad at her.

I’m the parent, she’s the child.  And there’s this element in our relationship, where I’m the one who makes the decisions, I’m the one who’s more in control.  I’m responsible for her.  It’s not two equals fighting on a level playing field.  Last night, for a minute, it was.  And it was such an odd sensation.  The day is going to come when we are equals, when she’s going to be furious at me, and not care if I’m disappointed or upset with her.  In a very real sense, I still consider myself responsible for her emotional state.  I think she still considers me responsible for it too.  We’re moving towards adulthood, I’m trying to teach her that she’s the one in charge of her mind, she’s the only one in charge of how she feels.  But last night, I realized that means that I can’t always fix everything with a hug.  Sometimes, she’s going to be furious with me, and not care about how I feel in regards to that.  Right now, my disapproval matters to her.  She might get mad at me, but she still wants to not be fighting with me, she wants me to be able to make it all go away.  But that’s not always going to be the case.

She’s going to be an adult, and she’s going to have a very different relationship with me than the one she has now.   It was a preview of what’ll be like when she’s an adult, when hopefully, we’ll have a relationship similar to the one I have with my mother, more friends than mother/daughter.  With mutual respect and an awareness that we are different people with different thoughts and reactions.  I don’t always do what my mother wants me to do, I make choices that aren’t always the choices that she’d make in the same situation.  I still love her, I still admire her enormously, I still think she’s the bees knees.  But I’m my own person, living my life and that’s separate and distinct from her.  Right now, Jessie and I are still entwined to a huge degree.  Not as much as we were, of course, when she was tiny, but we’re not yet as separated as we will be some day.

It was a bittersweet moment, because I could suddenly see, for the first time, what it was like to have a child that you loved so much, and have that child be strong enough, adult enough, to be able to be truly separate and distinct from you.  In the end, she burst into tears and softened enough to let me sit beside her and rub her back while she drifted off to sleep.  We’re not there yet, thank goodness, she’s still my little girl, I can still fix everything by just loving her.  I know it won’t last forever, but I’m not ready to give it up yet.

My Jessica wasn’t ever really a Daddy’s girl.  Not like the other three girls were.  Lilli and Sarah were always close with him, and Julianna thinks the sun rises and sets with her Yaya.  But Jessie was always my girl.  Not that she didn’t love her Daddy, of course she did, and he’s always adored her.  But she’s always been closer with me.  Part of that is my fault, I was raised by a single mom, so my default parenting style is to do everything.  I’ve gotten better about sharing as each child came along, but my instinct, especially with Jessie, is always to do it all.

Jessica is an intense kid – which is to say, she’s always been a girl who lives with an enormous amount of drama.  Where none exists, she’ll create it.  It seems to fill some need within her, and it’s been a part of her personality from the start.  Not that she always enjoys it, but she can get herself completely and totally wound up over virtually nothing, and talking her off the ledge is always a challenge.  Because in the end, the only one who can really get herself off the ledge, metaphorically speaking, is herself, and teaching her to calm down, and relax and breathe, instead of losing herself in the drama of it all is one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn.

Today was one of those days.  Her hair wasn’t working, and it was more than she could bear.  Between the hair slipping out of the ballerina bun, and the persistent thumb injury, she started crying and just couldn’t get out of it.  I tried, I really did, to try and stay calm, not feed into the emotion, but eventually, I got mad, and started yelling at her to calm down and knock it off.  Oddly enough, this didn’t seem to help.

Marc took her to religious school, but she was still a hot mess, crying and distraught and emotional as could be.  After about fifteen minutes, he took her back home, and I put her in her room.  I gave her a hug, told her I loved her, and handed her a book.  Told her that she couldn’t think of anything else, I didn’t want her to do anything other than to sit and escape into the book for at least ten minutes.  And she was so worn out, she did just that.  She sat and read for a while, and then I went in to talk to her.  She still couldn’t decide if she should go to religious school or not, and started to get upset again, and I cut her off and told her that I was making the decision to keep her home.  I wanted her to stay home, eat something, and just relax.

Then I took the younger two off to the tot services.  Julianna flat out adores it, and I didn’t want her to miss it.  And Sam has a new sports coat that someone gave us, and he wanted to wear it in the worst way.   I spent the morning with my younger two, and Jessica spent the morning with her dad.

It was strange, because normally, when Jessie is emotional and upset, I’m her go to girl.  I’m the one that wades into the hysteria, and makes it all better.  But today, Marc just handled the whole thing so beautifully.  Not only did he sit with her for twenty  minutes or so outside of Hebrew school, after I left with the other two, he then took her grocery shopping with him.  They came home and baked birthday cakes, and then he took her out to lunch before dropping her at dance class.

I was… thrown off, a little.  Part of it was just realizing (again) that he’s as good with Jessie as I am, and part of it was, I think, not envy, but something sort of like that.  I didn’t have a dad like that, and I realized today how much I missed out on.  Because I had my  mother, all the time, and she was fabulous and awesome.  She’s where I learned how to be a mother, and I’m pretty good at it.  But I didn’t have a dad that would sit with me for twenty minutes while I sobbed because my hair was crappy, and then take me shopping and feed me lunch.  My girl is a lucky, lucky girl, and today, I’m extra happy that I married her father, because he’s awesome.

At five and a half, shouldn’t she be outgrowing this tendency? We just survived a major freak out fit, all starting because I couldn’t take my baby girl to see the Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus concert that was in Worcester last year sometime. She barely managed to get herself under control when all hell broke loose with screaming and crying because … I don’t actually know. It had something to do with the concert that I had so helpfully recorded for her, but she was crying too hard to actually get it out. Jumping up and down, screaming, shaking with rage… I sent her to her room twice, once she stormed off to my room… it was horrible. Confusing, because I’ve only had the one cup of coffee, and still can’t figure out what set it off… she finally calmed down, and let me hold her, and she’s crying so hard and her little face is so distraught, and I’m thinking “why on earth do you do this to yourself?”