We’re painting nails today, my little girl and I. She’s chosen a different color for every nail, a hot pink for all of mine. I carefully paint each tiny nail, then hand over the brush. She immediately makes a mess, puts too much polish on at once. She runs the brush in the wrong direction, colors my whole fingertip hot pink. She misses spots, she bumps the bottle, she almost gets polish in her hair. I cringe, I flinch… I hope she doesn’t see me.
Today we’re making muffins, my little girl and I. She wants to be a chef someday, cook for more than just a few. We mash up the bananas, she leaves too many lumps. We measure out the sugar, she spills at least a cup. It’s time to crack the eggs, now shells and slime are everywhere. She mixes messily, smiles contently, jabbers away without realizing I can barely breathe from watching. I catch my breath, I look upward in frustration… I hope she doesn’t see me.
We’re working on a school project, my little girl and I. She chose the subject and did the research, delighted to learn more. We’re painting, cutting, writing, oh my, she knows to try her best. Her lines aren’t straight and her glue’s a mess, her spelling needs some work. She’s proud as punch of her painted tree, with white spots showing through. I purse my lips, I tilt my head… I hope she doesn’t see me.
We decorate our Christmas tree, my little girl and I. Each year we’re so excited, there’s magic in the air. She gasps as she unwraps each trinket, each ornament like gold. She handles them too roughly, these orbs I packed with care. She hangs them in the corner, all concentrated in one spot. She doesn’t fluff the branches, doesn’t stand back to check proportion. She wipes glitter all over, drops too much, and I have to leave the room. My eyes are squeezed shut, my hands are fists… I hope she doesn’t see me.
We’re getting ready to go out, my little girl and I. I’m putting on my makeup, she’s watching in pure awe. My concealer won’t conceal enough, my eyeliner isn’t even. My eyelashes aren’t as long as I’d like, I contour to look younger. I paint and blend and draw and mask, trying to look different. I grow frustrated with the process, grow sad at my appearance. I’m not happy with the way I look, not happy after application, either. I scrutinize, I criticize… I hope she doesn’t see me.
We’re growing up together, my little girl and I. We’re both new at all we do, she’s my only girl. We live together, play together, she’s my mini me. I struggle with anxiety, excellence my constant quest. Perfection is my prison, I want control of everything. I miss a lot of moments because I mentally amend them, focus on the chaos and the mess. I gasp instead of smile, criticize instead of praise. I’m insecure, impatient, in charge of raising her. I hope she’s strong, I hope she’s calm… and I hope she doesn’t see me.
5 thoughts on “I Hope She Doesn’t See Me”
Thank you so much for sharing. I’m in the same boat as you. My oldest has picked up some of the same behaviors 😞 I hope it’s not too late to encourage him to be happy just being him. I hope I can learn this message too.
This was beautifully written.
This is so me, with my son. He is so unbelievably free and creative – everything I am not. I want him to be, I love thi about him, but chaos makes me crazy. I have lightened up, but I have moments.
Thank you for writing this.
I read your article on your anxiety. I cant believe someone has the same thing as me. Of course you have different triggers but I have been an agoraphobic for 15 years. I worked and got my kids to places close by. We never traveled out of my non panic area, though it got smaller all the time. I hate sitting in this house staring out. I am told it is me, go to the mall 100 times and the fear will be gone, yet it doesnt. I am on meds and they dont fix it. It controls the constant thinking and allows me to go a short distance. I have always said no one would do this to themselves. It has to be chemical, hormones, something. I went on birth control and for six glorious years I was free, normal. Thank you for sharing and if anyone comes up with something to fix me please share
Diane, I just wish I could hug you. It’s truly like living in a prison, and no one understands why you can’t just walk out. ❤️
Love this piece. It speaks to me. I haven’t managed the cooking thing and I’m hoping she hasn’t lost interest. She’s 8 so I think there’s still time.
Some folks just have no idea how HARD it can be letting your child do things that “make a mess” without cringing and correcting and “fixing”.
I remember the first Christmas tree I did with her at 2. She got the whole bottom and all the unbreakable ornaments. Even then it was hard not to “suggest” not putting a 6th ornament on that branch. 🤦🏻♀️
So thanks for this. It’s always nice to know you aren’t the only one. 😀