We had had an argument earlier. Something about piano practice, science projects, hitting her brother, or setting the table for dinner. Insignificant to me now, everything to her then.
It didn’t end well, and this is her way of telling me.
We can get it so wrong, mother and child. Miss the mark, miss the meaning, overstep, over react, underestimate, under appreciate.
We tumble about until a note is written, left on a pillow for a mother to read with a smile and a tear. Her story, her 7-year-old voice, her view. On my pillow.
So I write one back. A letter she won’t yet understand.
“Yes, I am sorry.
Sorry for being bossy, impatient and stopping the fun. Sorry for not understanding, getting in the way and saying ‘no’ too many times. I’m sorry I have to be the adult even when I don’t want to be.
But I cannot be sorry for believing in you, asking your best and showing you new ways. Nor will I ever be sorry for loving you enough to say no.”
Unfortunately the difference is not always clear. A little “Tiger Mother” here, a little “Fluffy Mama” there. It’s more complicated than either of us want. So I sign the letter with a promise. A promise to know when to be sorry and when not to be. When to let things go, and when to push a little harder. I promise to act more in love and less in fear, and to always say the word sorry when I am.
I fold up her note, and sleep with it in my dreams. Dreams about a little girl learning, growing, and loved enough to challenge her mother to be all that she can be.