Thursday, March 11, 2010

A bond that never breaks

It has become a habit for Tara to have someone read her a story before she sleeps. At night, sometimes, Cip and I try to get away from this task by telling her to ‘ask mommy’ or ‘ask daddy’ whenever Tara asks someone to read her a story. Usually, I do that out of sleepiness. I am the sleepy head amongst the three of us, while Cip and Tara seem to share the same ability: making their eyes wide open until odd hours.

Then one night, all three of us joked around in the bed as usual, until Tara got sleepy and finally asked for a story to be read. I said to her, “Ask your daddy, make him busy rather than busy with that laptop”. And she looked and me and said, “No I want you to read to me”. I asked her, “But why, daddy’s good in reading stories”. She said, “Because, you are my favourite, mommy”. And that was more than enough for me to jump and search for a book.

Many times I am unsure if she gives me compliments to get what she wants, or if she really means it. Most of the time, I never bother. But that night, somehow, I was touched. And I guess partly because I just finished reading the two series of ‘The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants’.

These books contain touching stories about how hard it is, actually, to be a teenager. And how the four friends, support one another through the thick and thin.

There is Lena, whose parents are Greek but she cannot speak a single word of Greek. She is described to be the most beautiful of the four. But she grows up feeling that many people like her because she is beautiful. That no one, especially boys, ever really looks her in the eyes and tries to understand her as a whole person. She becomes cautious and reserved in building a relationship with others. She does not trust anyone, apart from her three close friends.

Carmen, a half Hispanic. Who often feels that she is an outsider for her half Hispanic root. Her parents are divorced, but she maintains closeness to both. But that closeness tore her apart when her father’s decided to re-marry. She felt rejected, but did not really know what to do about her feelings. Luckily there were her friends to pull her through.

Tibby, who often feels that her parents provide a lot of things at home to bribe her. She was an only child until, nearly a teen, her mom gave birth to a sister and then a brother. She feels a stranger in her own home. And seeks refuge in her hobby – creating short movies with her iBook.

Bridget, or Bee. A girl who loves soccer and is very good at it. If Lena is beautiful overall, Bee has amazing hair that is always successful to turn boys’ heads to her direction. And on contrary to Lena who tends to hide behind her beauty, Bee flaunts it. She is a determined girl, including when she’s got an eye to a boy. She will do what she can to get what she wants.

I was immersed in these stories because to me parts of them reminded me of my own confusion as a teen. Especially when it comes to relating with my mother. The times when I felt angry at her for things that she would not explain. Things, that years later, she finally explained and then I knew why she did not do that when I was only 17.

My confusion for things that I could not tell my mother, especially when they were about boys!. How I just drew myself away from her when she told me I was too young to fall in love. And again years later I realized that she was right to tell me so.

Or the times when I could not understand why in a marriage, couples just drew apart. We never spoke about it. But then now I know why.

The Sisterhood series have told me about more things than just about friendship between four teenage girls. These books told me about a bond that never breaks – no matter how far one goes. They also told me about providing a space for my girl.

As a mother of a little girl, I am somehow reminded by these books that there will be a day when she will perhaps ‘slip through my fingers’. There will be times when I cannot reach her, no matter how much I want to. And reading these books, I somehow feel secure. It’s about letting her be free and find things for herself. I will not always be there to protect her heart, anyway. Or maybe, I will break her heart, too. Just like what I accused my mother did back then. But then again, I needed all that. And so will Tara one day.

And just like what I experienced when I was a teen, I hope Tara will also find great many friends. Not necessarily to have a ‘Sisterhood’ (I find this so American), but just some close friends with whom she can confide in. I had great friends who pulled me through (and a couple of dogs, too). Together we searched through many confusing things that were happening to us. And we survived them all. I hope Tara will have that too.

Then there was one morning, I was working and was suddenly reminded of an ABBA song in Mamma Mia that I really like. I searched the web, and found the lyrics….

Schoolbag in hand, she leaves home in the early morning
Waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile
I watch her go with a surge of that well-known sadness
And I have to sit down for a while
The feeling that I'm losing her forever
And without really entering her world
I'm glad whenever I can share her laughter
That funny little girl

Slipping through my fingers all the time

I try to capture every minute
The feeling in it
Slipping through my fingers all the time
Do I really see what's in her mind
Each time I think I'm close to knowing
She keeps on growing
Slipping through my fingers all the time

Sleep in our eyes, her and me at the breakfast table

Barely awake, I let precious time go by
Then when she's gone there's that odd melancholy feeling
And a sense of guilt I can't deny
What happened to the wonderful adventures
The places I had planned for us to go
(Slipping through my fingers all the time)
Well, some of that we did but most we didn't
And why I just don't know

Slipping through my fingers all the time

I try to capture every minute
The feeling in it
Slipping through my fingers all the time
Do I really see what's in her mind
Each time I think I'm close to knowing
She keeps on growing
Slipping through my fingers all the time

Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture

And save it from the funny tricks of time
Slipping through my fingers

Slipping through my fingers all the time

Schoolbag in hand she leaves home in the early morning

Waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile

(Slipping Thru My Fingers, ABBA)

I could feel my eyes swell when I read it. And when I searched YouTube to listen to it, Tara came to me and sang with me. She is also in love with Mamma Mia and all the songs. So together we just sat side by side, our heads together, and sang this song. At the end she looked at me and smiled. She doesn’t understand what this song means, not yet. But nevertheless, that moment I knew we have shared something. All the way to school she hummed this song. And I felt warm inside.

Ah my baby….you will slip through my fingers one day, just like I slipped through your grandma’s. But I know it’s YOUR journey someday, not mine. So I’ll collect as much as I can, till then.

And I hope one day you’ll read ‘The Sisterhood’ series and can find great adventures just like the four friends. At the same time may you find out that a bond of hearts, does not break easily. And that one day you also know that a mother makes stupid mistakes, only because she is afraid of losing her daughter.

Love you, my lil girl…


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