stuck in the middle with you

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Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you.

Last night this song is playing at Uno’s while I eat pizza with my kids. I tell them this is a song that talks about my life right now…stuck in the middle with you. They roll their eyes and keep eating their pizza.

It’s homecoming week at the house, a time when the kids both want me around and push me away.  When they want my opinion, then silently warn me with their eyes to back off.   A time when the purse strings are wide open for all the stuff… jewelry, shoes,makeup, costumes…when the car is rolling for errands, rides to the float parade…

It is also a week with a lot of doctor appointments and follow ups for my mom, first to the primary, then arrangements for home health to draw bloodwork, then to the cardiologist for an echocardiogram for a new murmur they hear.

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am.  Stuck in the middle with you.

A mirror, a two way mirror.

I see my daughter, choosing what she will share, averting conversations, hugs, kisses on the forehead, gradually taking a few steps back, and me doing the same to my mother, avoiding painful, quiet conversations, needy hugs, a kiss on the cheek, taking a few steps back.

for my daughter, it is independence

for me, it is sorrow

The sorrow of not having the relationship the way I do now with my daughter on the good days–the days out to lunch, or perusing the racks at Marshalls, or grabbing a Starbucks together–the days I used to have with my mom.

I need to let down my guard and have the silent hugs, and take the kisses on the cheek, and take the hand that wants to be held

for that is what a mother needs from her daughter,

and what a daughter needs from her mother

at 15, or 52, or 89

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Fathers, be good to your daughters

Daughters will love like you do

Girls become lovers who turn into mothers

So mothers, be good to your daughters too

–John Mayer

My mother was so good to me.

Am I a daughter who loves like she did?

Selflessly, putting others first?

I have such a hard time right now, putting her first.

She is so kind and gentle

while I fight for myself and what I want

and see that in my daughter too

fighting for who she is

to carve her own way, not mine

even though I may try to direct it.

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It is so hard to see her, my daughter, mirroring the fight I have myself…

wanting independence,

to be free of this constant care and worry for my mom.

Mom tells me she’s ready to go.

I ask her why.

She tells me she doesn’t want me worrying about her so much. Isn’t that what we do as mothers–worry about everything being right?..hair, makeup, the right outfit, friends, relationships, the right fit?

I’ve done that since my daughter was a toddler. I do it now

I do it for my mother at 89, she does it for me.

I walk in the door, dressed up to go to dinner. She motions me towards her, she adjusts my skirt,

“That’s so pretty,” she says, turning her hand in a circle.

“Turn around.”

I sigh, turn grudgingly around.

“Fix your hair,” she says, pointing at my wild mane.

“OK mom,” I say, turn on my heel and walk away.

The next day I do the same to my daughter as she readies herself for homecoming. She’s frantically curling her hair with a wand into little ringlets.

“Aren’t you going to fluff those out,” I ask

“No, mom,” she says. “I like them that way.”

“What about your makeup, aren’t you putting on your makeup?”

“Yes, mom.”

“Pull your skirt down.”

I pause.

I am my mother

My daughter is me.

The lines are blurred in these moments of female-hood

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Three generations under my roof

Three fights for independence

one, wanting to be free to be herself,

one, wanting to be free of her physical limitations

one, wanting to be free of the worries of both

for here I am,

stuck in the middle with you