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Such is the way of what is.



The door just slammed. Not out of anger, but in the strong hands of a young woman with headphones. I peek out the upstairs window to catch her walking down the back alley to school. Backpack filled to zipper bursting proportions; headphones protecting her from the outside world. She doesn't hear the birdsong or the swoosh of cars or the horn of the train. I wonder what she is listening to. Maybe Taylor Swift? Gracie Abrams? She has the face of a warrior, focused on her way to battle.


I give Peyton space in the morning. Sometimes a 20-foot bubble. Other times, a whole floor and a text expressing my love before she leaves. It's the morning dance of allowing her to just be. I'm getting better with this. All I really want to do is dive into bed with her and cuddle like we used to, but she's less thrilled about my spooning these days. We are seventeen days away from her 15th birthday. No spooning, thank you very much, mom.


I recently read Woman Running in the Mountains by Yūko Tsushima. Set in the late 1970s, the story captures the plight of a young woman, Takiko, who becomes pregnant after a lackluster hookup with a co-worker. Takiko is stuck. Her life is defined by an abusive homelife and an inability to see even five minutes ahead. Regardless, she has vowed to have the baby, love it, and figure it out. And she does. None of it is easy. On some days, she shuffles through the hours barely keeping her head above water. She navigates daycare systems, tries and fails to retain employment, tries and fails to avoid the blows of her father, and tries and tries and tries to care for her baby boy, Akira. Japanese life dictates ideals that fall short for her. She doesn't have lofty dreams and goals. It's more a matter of a "not that." As the seasons tick on, she finds employment that defies the norms; her love and ability to care for Akira deepens. She finds her way. The book does not end with epiphany. Like real life, it ends with the hint of continuation...the unease of daily life will not cease. It simply becomes familiar and truthful. She accepts it for what it is.


The author herself was the product of a single-mommed environment after her famous (and very unstable) father, author Osamu Dazai, left when she was just one. He would later drown in a double-suicide pact with his romantic interest. Tsushima's mother, Michiko Ishihara forged ahead, raising her three daughters alone, attempting to allude the cloud of tragedy and abandonment. Later, Tsushima would also become a single mother and would birth not only children but literature detailing the beauty, rapture, and hardships of what is---the acceptance of living in the margins, as the grooves of traditional Japanese life alluded her.


That is the way of parenting whether it is parenting children or oneself. There comes a time where you simply accept and in so many ways, all becomes beautiful--even the hardships, especially the hardships. I watch Peyton's ups and downs and in the middles, careful not to intervene too much. I am a sounding board, her biggest cheerleader, and space bubble provider. Some days I find myself watching her. A specimen shapeshifting with sport and the rigors of high school. She gravitates to neutral colors, clever lyrics, a steady diet of candy, and kindness (although she does not suffer fools).


I am hopeful that I am giving her enough space and comfort to always speak her mind, to love, to screw up, and to repair what falls apart.


I am hopeful that I am giving myself enough space to always speak my mind, to love, to screw up, and repair what falls apart.


Such is the way of parenting children or oneself in the margins of truth.




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