my daughter, my life and my angst

(NOTE:  this began in a fit of frustration and written with top speed.  typos are numerous, capitalization inconsistent, etc.  not recommended reading for those with OCD.)

if had known what parenting entailed i don’t know if i would have signed up for the task.

an 11-year old with a mind of her own is a terrible thing to live with.

she can be charming, delightful, loving, attentive, smart, creative and kind — and a joy to be around. but dammit when she wants to drag her feet and be a prima donna, act like a spoiled child and demand that everything be about her…i want to scream. no, i do scream.

i want to pack a bag and flee to south america.

oh, i’ve already done that.  with her.

so that isn’t an option. i have nowhere else to go.

africa is too hot. can’t drink the water is a lot of other places.  afraid of bombs in the middle east (thanks America)…plus i can’t stand the thought of wearing a habib. USA is much to scary a place for me anymore.  Perhaps one of those remote monasteries tucked in high places in china may suffice.

david doesn’t get ruffled a bit.  ok, ruffled. he raises his voice and puffs out his chest for a minute or two but then all is well and he goes back to whatever he was doing.  my daughter slips away into her room, under her headphones and escapes into the world of minecraft or moviestar planet or youtube and all is fine.

and i sit here stewing about what i’ve done wrong and how she’s going to turn out to need therapy for at least three decades and what can i do to make her into a person she’ll be proud to be. strong. resourceful. self-confident. self-reliant.  kind and generous and good to all. or most.  or at least one other person.

i don’t want perfection. do i?  i don’t know.  but i hate to see a child who wants what everyone else has. who compares everything she has to what others have and puts her self in a lower position.  who wants parents who dote on her and shower her with anything she wants.  not one, not two but three computers.  someone else has a great voice machine. why can’t i have one.  she has iphone 7. he has iphone 6. why do i have to have an iphone 4  something in me gets hooked. i feel guilty. i’m not being a good mom.  maybe i should indulge. maybe i should have her keeping up with Juan’s family.


she does not have to compete here or in the usa or anywhere with what other children have. how do we teach her that what is inside is the most important. not what you wear (though she doesn’t really care about clothes), not what you own, not what you carry around or where you live makes you valuable.  it is who you are.

how do we instill that in her?

part of the reason we moved here is to provide her a different experience than the materialistic culture of north america.  er, the usa.

but we’ve found it here too…to some extent.  probably because she goes to a private school which automatically places her in the same class as more wealthy ecuadorians.  it’s not expensive by usa standards; it’s not the most expensive here in cuenca. but it is, i suppose more elite than public school.  for where she was with spanish, however, public school would have been too big of a step we felt.  this school offers a lot and the  more i know of it, the more value the education she is getting there.

i get angry, sad, concerned and stressed at what i see in her at times or what i hear her say.

then i think of how i was as a child.

I wanted the sweaters that lesta springman had.  i wanted the wig hats that the hilyard girls got for Christmas.  I wanted to be able to go to dances like everyone in the school.  I wanted to drive up and down main street on saturday night…but had no one to drive with me. I wanted matching bra and girdle sets like the powell and doyle girls. (yes, that was in the 60s when girdles were the rage).

i’d get upset with mom and dad and storm up the steps into my room.  i’d drag furniture around to release my pent-up anger.  i’d smash radios with my fist.  i screamed into pillows and i’d cry my eyes out.  WHY CAN’T I BE LIKE OTHER KIDS?  WHY CAN’T I HAVE WHAT THEY HAVE?  Why did my parents have to be so generous and give a large portion of their income to people need and not lavish me with gifts?

I was a selfish, stubborn, willful, child.  I was a hurting child. I was crying for something in the inside.

Is my daughter crying as well?

Maybe.  Uprooted from her home, her school, her network of friends…always changing network but nevertheless well-established friendships.  Landed in a culture where family is everything and individualism is not highly rated at all.  Attending school with children where the words “negra” and “gordito” are used freely and not as insults.  yet that is what they feel like to a girl from the USA where the “n” words is anathema and to be called fat or chubby is an ultimate insult.  here, they are words of endearment. truly. family members call each other by those names as ways of saying “i love you.”  how does Katherine’s young mind make the switch?

She’s adopted in a culture that doesn’t understand adoption.  here, families just absorb each other’s children when necessary.  Children continually ask her, “who are you REAL parents?”  We are my real parent, she says. She is not believed.

She is neither black, brown or white in this culture that measures people by the color of their skin.  She is a bit of an oddity because of her curly hair, her hazel eyes and her height. Short by usa standards, the towers among her classmates.

But she is loved. david and i visited her school on friday and saw the crowd of kids with whom she was playing.  right at the center.  boys and girls clowning around with her, touching her, laughing with her.  she is well accepted. well-loved. her teachers say she is part of the class and enjoyed by all.

so…what do i do for my little girl?  my dearest little girl?  how do i make this transition easier?  do i keep hands off and let her feel the pain and grow through it?  do i soften the blows and play interference?  maybe walk with her day by day and help ease hurt feelings, explain the truths of life and listen to hear pain and wipe her tears.

i feel stab wounds almost daily.  she, an extra-sensitive, ultra-dramatic soul — i think much like her birthmom–has to go through life feeling things deeply. wanting things intensely, expressing emotions outrageously. much like her REAL mom–me.

i want nothing more in life than to be mother of this dear child.  i am gifted and blessed beyond measure. like her, i have to vent sometimes.  this has been my vent.

she’s not going to get what the sanchez family gives their children. she is going to go to the coast instead with me in two weeks and spend time with children who lost everything in the earthquake.  we will experience together the value of family there. how possessions mean nothing and loved ones mean everything.

all is right in the world.  my outburst at paragraph one has cooled and i am on my way upstairs to hug my daughter and help her pack.  we are moving to a new house on monday.

she’s getting bunkbeds (used.)  she’s decorating her room with emojis (she thinks).  we are going to be happy.


14 thoughts on “my daughter, my life and my angst

  1. joy, laughter, screams, angst. There is no challenge greater than a mother’s relationship with her daughter. Mine is 34. I still have joy, laughter, screams and angst. And so much love. so. much. love.


  2. I love this post. It’s so real. Although life did not allow me the privilege of being in this position (I’d wanted to be a mom but it didn’t work out), I can appreciate what you’re going through and I’m glad you shared it like you did. Thanks, Nancy.


  3. I learned from my daughter, now a well-adjusted 30-year-old, that the best thing that I could do was listen whenever she wanted to talk rationally about what was bothering her and not let the ranting get to me. There were definitely times I wanted to turn in my mommy “badge” (and if I remember correctly, it was for the years between 11 and 14, when she suddenly turned back into the sweet natured girl she’d been before she turned 11. But it really all come together when she realized at the beginning of her junior year that she didn’t give a damn what others thought about her, she was going to stop trying to make them like her, and just be herself, and if they didn’t like her being herself, to hell with them! And it worked, because she came home the first week of her senior year and said, “Mom, I don’t know how it happened, but I somehow got popular behind my back!”. Her speech class teacher that year told me that she was very special to him because she reminded him of his beloved late daughter (whom I’d taught for 3 years in my drama classes). And then he said “She not only marches to her own drummer but DANCES, and everybody in the class LOVES her!”.

    If you can keep your sanity about you for the next few years, I’m sure you’ll find that your sweet girl will get through all the hormonal storms she’s experiencing now and realize how very lucky she is to have parents who show their love for her and the rest of humanity. Living in Ecuador should eventually let her see that it isn’t WHAT you have in life, but WHO is sharing it with you!


    • thank you so much for your great response!! helpful and encouraging. your daughter sounds fantastic. i have great hopes for Katherine. She’s very creative and marches to her own drummer most of the time. i look forward to seeing who she is in the future. for now, one day at a time. i do appreciate you taking the time to write and encourage. muchas gracias.


  4. Ah, adolescence. Now it begins! Hang on, Mom. It’s her job to figure out who she is outside of her mom and dad. This means resistance, rebellion, and pulling away sometimes. Keep doing what you are doing. It will work out fine. You’re a great mom, and you are a blessing to her.


    • thanks Egyirba. i’ve been offline on this c omputer for a number of weeks. just got it fixed and back on line. i appreciate your words and support. you’ll be hearing more, i’m sure!! but she’s a great kid and we’ll muddle through! so good to meet you at the writing thing-a-ma-jig!


  5. The biggest gift you are giving her – and yourself – besides your love – is this process of exploring who she is and who she wants to be. Shadow work done early minimizes the shadow work needed later. How totally wonderful that you are having a couple of mom-daughter weeks on the coast. I applaud you, Nancy, and I applaud Kathryn as well. Thanks so much for this heartfelt sharing.


    • well, neither one of us made it to the coast…but we will soon. because of the move i changed my plans. but thanks so much for your encouragement and your presence in my life. you will help make the years ahead easier with your support. Love you, barbara!


  6. Speaking as someone who screwed up royally by showering her kids with hi-tech expensive things in a vain attempt to feel better about my workaholism and slapdash absentee parenting — no, you are right NOT to give in. Let her know it’s OK not to have the very latest and best. The trip to the earthquake zone is the right idea. Kids need some context for needs and wants, a way to learn the difference. I think you’ve got a few more challenging years ahead for sure, but hold on tight to your values and let her see them in action — and this challenging crazy journey will all pay off in building her character for the rest of her life.


    • thanks elizabeth. my computer has been offline for several weeks (waiting for installation/corrections!). I feel like i’m failing at this mothering, but will continue to do the best i can. she’s a handful! but one i love dearly!! think of you very often..


  7. Thing is, a lot of modern culture confuses personal worth with objects. She is responding to that but the values you instil although it is exhausting and stressful to instil them (!) will resurface when she pops out the other end of angst you teenagehood. Hang on tight for the ride. 👣


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