Catalina and I got into a heated discussion tonight. Voices were raised. Tears were shed. Thankfully there wasn't too much either of us said that we wish we could take back. After it was over, we were not happy about the fight (oh let's just call it what it actually is) but we were happy to have cleared the air.
Catalina said something that will stay with me for a while...at least I hope it will so I can make sure that I never make her feel that way again. She said that she knew that I love her because I have to; I'm her mother. But she didn't think that I like her very much because I always seem to find something that she is not doing right. My heart sank.
I told her that I love her because she is lovable, not because I have to. I know all too well that biological order does not create love. I told her that I like her because she is compassionate, funny and smart. That if I was 12, I would want her to be my friend. I told her that I admire her because of her incredible sense of self, courage to face her fears and need for justice. These are all things that I have trouble with and now when I am faced with them, I think of her and she gives me strength and inspiration. I also told her that this is why I get so frustrated with her at times. Because I know how much she is capable of and as her mother, it is my duty to her to guide her on the path to achieving all she can. Sometimes that means identifying where she falls short.
Catalina will be 13 in a few weeks. We will have many more "heated discussions" as we enter this new stage of her life and our relationship. Boundaries will be tested, as well as our patience. I never want to have this particular discussion with her again. I want her to know that I love, like and admire her not because of what I said tonight. I want her to just know it. To just feel it. I need to be "that" kind of mom for her...and for myself.
I have no trouble telling everyone what I great fan of my daughter I am. I just need to let her know more often and more effectively.