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  • God how we are different. I should of known something was up when your kindergarten teacher mentioned in your first parent-teacher conference “She sure has an acute sense of justice”, meaning “little girl take no shit”.

    I was different at your age, hiding behind an illusion of good girlness, that kept me under the parental radar, the worst sort if you ask me. Under the covers, I was a misdemeanor in the making. But not you.

    I can’t even begin to draw the comparisons between my mothering of you and the mothering I received. There was no fence around me, at 16 I was on my own, away at art school, bucking any and every sense of authorship, including my own, over my life.

    Last week, in family counseling, it came out. I blurted “I trust no one.” I want to trust you, to trust this growing into the person you are, fully to be. I look at you, and I trust your goodness. This metamorphosis of adolescence will happen without my permission, whether I like it or not. I would go back to sleepless nights with a colicky baby if I could. But you drag me kicking and screaming into today, into the future.

    Today you got your period. I hugged you, kissed you, gave you panty liners and let you know it was going to be ok. It has to be, right? I think of you differently now, we are blood sisters. The signs were all there, I could see them coming, but denied your budding womanhood. The dam broke; it’s official.

    When we went to D.C., just the two of us, you ate snails. I was so excited you asked for a new adventure, a small one, in a restaurant, with four walls. A request made to the waiter. I knew what to expect because I had tasted snails before and felt confident that the garlic would override the obvious fading glory of the experience. I knew you would hate the taste and let me eat the rest for myself.

    After we ate, we walked around the Capitol building way past bedtime. We staged our own 2 person rally for the April 20th, “Cover the Night” event happening all over the world. You put up posters around the Captiol and I peeled tape. I was your caddy for justice, but secretly I was thankful for the level of control that kept us safe so late at night were the same reasons you were bored.

    I was so proud to see you move in this direction, but taken back when you replied at my suggestion of “Do you want to go to the Holocaust Museum?…I’m not sure… It’s tough.”

    With “Did you know Joseph Kony has enslaved over 105, 000 boys into his army? He killed their families. And who knows how many girls have been raped and are in sexual slavery. Mom, who will build a museum for them?”

    This idea of justice has captured your mind and I didn’t know what to say to your questions, as a comrade, as woman, or as a mother. I didn’t have an answer. I have no answers and that’s no answer. Not for you or the children of Uganda. I am feeling my way through this, just like you, hacking down the overgrown trail of my own memory, ghosts, and perceptions. And I’m impatient.

    But surely, I thought I had introduced you to the evil of the world, bit by bit, as I saw fit, and would act as shield when it came pressing, no, pounding too loudly, on the door of your life. Somehow, this worldly knowledge of horror had slipped past the goalie…leave it to public school, outside the brick safeguards of our home, outside of this shield of me. But this horror is our world’s reality.

    But this captivating idea of liberty isn’t just something written by a bunch of dead guys for you, my blue-eyed girl. You took it to heart. And you mean it for the whole world, not just a contiguous few.

    I hear it, as soon as I say it, I hear it. This hope leaves room for despairing echoes in my mind. I know what’s pounding and purring, just outside the door and you don’t, not yet, my daughter. The way the world and it’s followers will work in its pursuit of economics over justice. But I also know the world has never seen you.

    This life you have been living since birth, always the walking away from me,
    you, this glorious you, carving darkness with your light,
    while I stand still, but never silent.
    You, walking away from me into your own life, hopes, dreams. A pilgrim, sojourner, friend.

    I stand proud that I know a person just like you.
    Your torch is lit.
    In your walking, your pilgrimage, when you look back, and you will look back, I will be here.
    Always here.


    Photo credit to my daughter, Zoe, taken at the Lincoln Memorial in honor of her 12th birthday, standing in the place where Martin Luther King, Jr. looked out at a crowd of over 200,000 and gave a little talking to.
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