That’s what my daughter said to me the other day.
Things are so good, mama. I have great friends. You have a great job. You’re in love with a super sweet, awesome guy. We have a new kitty cat. We’re learning guitar and piano. There’s just so much… life. It’s a really good time, isn’t it, mama?
I listened to my daughter in the backseat say these words to me as I was driving her to school. Words delivered with the purest 12 year old smile I’ve ever seen. Words that tumbled out of her mouth and landed on me like a warm hug.
There is no greater feeling than that of your child expressing happiness. Joy. Peace. My daughter is so incredibly present in life that she has the ability to take notice of a good moment. A great moment. And express it.
When I was her age I wore black. I smoked cigarettes that I stole from the ashtrays around my house. I played with matches in the backyard. I ran away from home all the way to the side yard steps with a pillowcase filled with pajamas and stuffed animals and I waited for someone to come look for me until it got so late and I got so hungry that I would finally go inside.
No one ever even noticing I had left.
When I was 12 I had already explored drinking, smoking pot and fooling around with boys. I had told my mom I hated her many times. Broken windows and doors in our house from slamming them in fits of rage. I had poured all my mom’s alcohol down drains, hid bottles from her in drawers around the house, watched her fall down a flight of stairs and break her wrist, listened to her fight with my horribly vulgar step-father, and sat in the backseat while she drove me drunk to play dates.
When I was 12 I only took in the bad moments. The painful moments. The moments of anger and disappointment and shame. They so overshadowed everything else in my life that I hardly noticed a good moment when it came my way.
But they did come my way.
I had incredible friends who are still in my life today. I went to the theatre with my mom and was exposed to art and music and make-believe. I had dogs and cats who slept on my bed and greeted me every time I came home from school. I had a record player in my room that I danced wildly to on my shag green carpet, singing into a hairbrush at the top of my lungs.
I had food on the table, clothes on my back, creativity everywhere and freedom to express myself.
And by day… I had a mom who was brilliant. Truly brilliant.
That’s not bad. In fact, that’s pretty damn good.
But I didn’t see it back then. I couldn’t. That’s what chaos does. Chaos robs. Chaos is a thief. Chaos steals everything leaving you with nothing but wreckage to focus on. Like a tornado it sweeps up all the good with the bad. And when the dust settles and the house lands and, if you’re lucky, you survive… your job is to clean up and try not to curse God for destroying your life.
But I have cleaned up. Scrubbed, vacuumed, wiped, polished and put things away. The past has been carefully stored into photo albums and placed in drawers. The present hangs on the walls in beautiful frames. The future… not my business. But I have room and space for it to enter.
My daughter lives without chaos. Sure there have been some minor earthquakes and rumblings, a few after shocks and warnings but her home is strong. Safe. Calm.
Yes, baby. Things are good. Things are amazing. YOU are amazing.
And with that I pulled over, we gave each other a kiss, she grabbed her backpack and Dr. Who lunch box out of the car and headed for school.
I watched her walk towards the gate… her legs are getting so long.
Life is about moments. I write about them.