Sunday, 15 December 2013

Missing Our Girls

I am standing in a mall, waiting for my husband, when I see them: a woman about my age and her grown-up daughter. They are window shopping, their arms linked, and they are deep in amicable conversation. The daughter--she has to be the woman's daughter; they have the same high forehead and wide-spaced eyes--is about four months pregnant, The expression on her mother's face makes me want to cry. She is obviously so happy to be with her daughter, and so proud.

They stop in front of a window display of clothing for toddlers and admire the tiny coats, sweaters and shoes. The daughter laughs and points at a stuffed zebra the size of a panda. 

Suddenly I miss my daughters! My husband and I have missed them ever since we arrived here, in late summer, but at this moment, seeing this woman and her daughter together, I miss them so much I can hardly stand it.

Earlier, I looked for presents to give my girls for Christmas. I browsed through trays of carved hair ornaments, rows of sweaters on plastic hangers, stacks of tee shirts I thought they might like. I found so many things I thought would please them, but I stopped myself from actually buying them. I want to see my girls trying these things on--see them wearing the sweaters, frowning at themselves in the mirror--Do you think this is my color? Would a smaller size be better? I want to drink coffee with them afterwards, take them out for lunch, try on lipsticks and perfume with them that we have no intention of buying.

We are generally happy here, my husband and I. We are doing interesting and demanding jobs; we are struggling to learn Chinese, which is as engrossing as it is frustrating; and we are gradually getting to know this country. But being away from our daughters is so hard!

My husband rejoins me and we take the elevator to the basement. There, we walk past a huge play area where children tumble about on brightly-colored mats and climb plastic honeycombs. One kid is bawling his head off, kicking the floor. His exasperated mother watches him, arms crossed over her chest, a look of irritated resignation on her face. Ever so often, she bawls out something that he is making too much noise to hear.

"Been there," my husband murmurs as we watch the struggling toddler, and I automatically echo, "Done that."  We continue walking, but the toddler's screams are still perfectly audible from quite a distance.

And yes, we feel a little bit better. But we still miss our girls.


Charles Gramlich said...

I understand. Two years ago I was having lunch once a week with my son. Hardly see him the last two years. sigh.

Mirka Breen said...

DD and I had one such morning recently. Knowing this is the year before she heads into the big world, I felt I was missing her already...
Your writing has such poignancy.

Anonymous said...

I'm a bit further back--my oldest just left for college this fall, and the twins are still home. But I got a glimpse when we traveled to North Africa by ourselves last fall. I had a terrific time but, especially at first, I missed the children fiercely. It seemed wrong to be there without them, somehow.

Lynne said...

a little late but (((HUGS))) it's ever so hard when you miss your children.

Mary Witzl said...

Charles -- It's so awful, isn't it? And when, you tell people who still have their kids around, most of them don't get it, or they say things like 'Well, you have to let them go.' Which of course is a given, but still...

Mirka -- Thank you. Treasure the time you have left with your daughter! (I can never resist giving superfluous advice.)

Elizabeth -- It feels so unnatural not to have your kids around, doesn't it--no matter how much you enjoy yourself? One of the many ways parenting totally ruins you.

Lynne -- Thank you (sniff). I still miss them so much.