I had a tiff with my daughter yesterday that started out making me feel awful but ended up making me feel like I’ve totally won at parenting. (Even if I didn’t actually “win” at parenting, I’m still claiming the victory and holding on to it for a while.)
I had originally said I would get her dishes for her new apartment but she didn’t get me a list of what she needed. Today, she finally did and I was a bit shocked by the price because I was expecting it to be cheaper.
Mind you, it’s not outrageously expensive, just about $50 more than it would be to get her a set from Walmart. I had saved my old Corelle dishes in our old basement in Michigan, fully intending them to be hers when she moved out. Long story short, she and my husband made a mutual decision not to bring them down when we moved here and I honestly felt bad about that.
I’ve already spent over $500 on supplies for her new apartment. Plus I am giving her our old sofa and a blue recliner that I got when I was pregnant with Adam. (She claimed dibs on the blue chair, since it has sentimental attachment for her.) And I just got her a new bed last year.
She told me that she doesn’t like taking financial help from me because she knows I’ll get anxious about the cost. I don’t think that’s entirely accurate, though I see why she’s extra sensitive to it. When we were at Target the other day buying her supplies, when the cashier rang up the total and it was a bit over $300, I said, “Wow, that was more than I thought.”
She took that comment to mean I was super stressed out about it but I honestly wasn’t at all.
So basically, I’ve somehow fucked up massively when it comes to her and money. It’s true that I do get anxious about money; that’s just one of the reasons why my husband calls me his “little bird.” (The meaning of that actually comes from a Bible verse Matthew 6:26 about how the birds don’t worry about how they’ll be fed, yet the Heavenly Father feeds them and surely I’m more valuable than they are.)
So yeah, I have a lot of anxiety. Everyone knows it and it’s worst about money. And unfortunately, that has negatively affected my daughter and her relationship with me.
BUT—when I came home, after having already told her by phone that I wouldn’t be able to afford the dishes, we had a really good talk. Like, she actually said the kind of things that I’ve wanted to hear from my youngest son and haven’t since he’s been away at college.
She said that our relationship is strong because we can actually talk about important stuff and the money aspect of things is so much less important. She actually compared our relationship to having a positive beneficial effect like therapy!
And she said that the fact that she’s moving into such a great apartment is proof of the “Texas gamble” having paid off. She had such an incredibly difficult time adjusting to the move down here and that has always been one of my biggest regrets.
It’s kind of ironic that I didn’t realize until yesterday that she’s almost exactly at the same age that I was when I had her. In retrospect, it seems like I was so young. And yes, I’m very glad that she gets to skip the hardships we went through.
On that note, she said that she used to feel like it was the best move for everyone on balance but she was kind of the necessary collateral damage. But now she feels like it also has become one of the best things for her, too—especially when she compares how she’s doing to how her classmates at the art school she attended in Michigan have turned out so far.
And she mentioned the fact that Dylan is able to go to college and live in a dorm—something that once seemed so impossible for any of my kids to afford. We really are getting ahead, even if sometimes it feels like we’re not.
She also said that the most valuable thing to her is knowing that she always has a home where she is welcome if she ever needs to return, no questions asked. Even if I’m widowed and living in a one-bedroom apartment, I’ll still take her in, even if she has to sleep on the couch. And I’m really glad she acknowledged that and it means something to her.
She knows she’s doing a lot better than she would be if we had stayed in Michigan. She doesn’t have to start out with the same struggles that my husband and I did, and as she put it, isn’t that what every parent wants, for the next generation to do better than you did?
We’ve come a long way together, especially since we’ve been down here in Texas. It hasn’t always been a smooth road, to be sure, but everything works out in the end.