Susan Dix Lyons’ daughter is at ‘that age,’ making the difficult passage from childhood to independence. Here’s her Perspective.
Sometimes I’ll drive 30 minutes each way just to get her a taco. Anything, really, to make her happy and have her by my side.
Her silence thunders inside of me.
My daughter is 14 — that stage when you reach the crest of the climb and suddenly begin to drop, all thrill and panic. She is magnificent, alive, full of private reproaches and fears, and her beauty is the storm that she doesn’t see coming.
I think about how to reach her as I do a stubborn equation. What’s the word limit for keeping her attention? How many minutes of Soundcloud does she need before I earn a question? Three? Seven?
Other times I give up and start to sing behind the wheel, making moves that I know will get me a cheap look of horror or a plea to stop. “That shouldn’t happen,” she’ll say, squinching her brows as I break out too-loud in my off-pitch Sylvan Esso. “Whaaaat?” I’ll say, all mock coolness as she gives me The Look. I’ll clam up for a mile or so, then say her name.
“What,” she’ll respond.
“I love you,” I’ll say, remembering how tightly she liked to be swaddled, how I would tuck her beside me as a baby so I could feel her breath. She’ll look out the window at the passing vineyards. A beat will pass. Maybe two or three. “I know, Mama,” she’ll finally say.
I look at her as a mother, my own private ache and concern. I look at her as a woman, respecting the messy journey as I search for crumbs in her trail. I look at her as the girl I once was, knowing how I wished my own mother would understand and yet wishing even harder that she would leave. Me. Alone.
“Hey,” I’ll say again, speaking her name like a prayer or invocation.
“What,” she’ll respond again, sometimes with a short, deep sigh as she turns her head my way and removes one earbud from her slender, open ear.
“I love you so, so much.”
And we’ll drive.
With a Perspective, I’m Susan Dix Lyons.
Susan Dix Lyons lives in St. Helena.