Hindsight Parenting: Daddy’s Daughter
The City Slicker Vs. The Country Bumpkin
I once read a book where the mother was tired of the constant lack of respect doled out by her entire family. She felt invisible in many ways, and so one day she decided to test out the literalness of that invisibility. While at a beach with her family, she calmly put on her shoes, took her purse and walked across the street to an overgrown meadow with grass as tall as she. She stepped into the meadow and as she walked was literally swallowed up by the vegetation, walking through the muck and mire until she reached a place where she could hitch a ride and begin a new life.
Being swallowed up by tall grass until one completely disappears paints a beautiful picture and probably has been a fantasy of every mother now and then, but admittedly while the thought of walking away from all the “stuff” that comes with motherhood may possibly entice me now and then, a MEADOW was never an option as an escape route. I’ll admit it. I am not a gettin’ dirty kind of girl. (Okay…mind out of the gutter…this IS a family column!)
All I can picture when I think of that meadow is how my beloved heels would get stuck in the mud and the water stains my suede boots would endure. If I was to write a disappearance scene it would take place on a crowded city street in Soho or perhaps San Francisco in which I get swallowed up by the crowd until I ended up at a vacant flat in a swanky neighborhood where my new life would consist of a computer to write, a dog for company and a daily walk through my neighborhood to take in the sights and sounds of the city…complete anonymity. Complete bliss.
So where am I going with this? I mean this is the HINDSIGHT column right? Give me a sec, I’m getting there. The first time around with my sons, I expected that since I was a city type girl that of course my boys would be city slickers as well. How wrong I was. The first time I brought Aidan to NYC, he became so overwhelmed by the chaos and noise he threw up on the side of the Chrysler Building…not a good sign. But I kept on trying, year after year, dragging my unwilling boys to the city listening to them complain about the smells and the noise and fret over being caught in terrorist attack or held up by a drug dealer.
So when Ila’s neurologist and a very special friend who is a PT extraordinaire suggested that Ila learn to ride a horse to strengthen her core, I immediately dismissed the idea. After all, she was my daughter and…well…she would NEVER be comfortable on a farm, in a BARN with all the manure and the dirt floors and the hay and the smells, and the stray cats and…well…you get my point. Horseback riding would NEVER be a viable solution for MY little girl. Nope. No WAY. We just aren’t country-lovin girls. No way.
But then…but then…we went to our annual pilgrimage to the apple orchard. And ok….there is a petting “farm” with hay bales and goats, pigs, cows, chickens and turkeys. Hey ANYONE can stand the smell for a couple of hours in the name of Fall fun. But Hindsight began whispering when she ran towards the goats. It began yelling when the goats licked her hands over and over and giggles cascaded from her beautiful mouth. She flew towards the rabbits and the chickens squealing with joy. Watching with a keen eye that I have developed since Hindsight has come into my life, I noticed that while I was standing on the outskirts of the petting farm, Ila AND her FATHER were giddy, purely giddy. And it was at that moment that I realized that she wasn’t just MY daughter, but Jeffrey’s daughter as well.
If Jeffrey disappeared it would be in that meadow with a gaggle of animals trailing behind him. His heaven would be the biblical Noah’s Ark. Ila seemed to have inherited the “animal magnet” gene. She was her father’s daughter as much as she was mine. I didn’t hold the market on her personality. And so, when my sweet friend text me about a new therapeutic riding program a mere 25 minutes away, we visited during a weekend open house (or open barn in this case). While I wobbled and looked ridiculous in my platform black leather shoes and mini skirt, Ila and her daddy reveled in the dirt and the dust and the horse manure. They chased after the barn cats and neighed like the horses. They even climbed a muddy hill to see the horses in the corral, hanging on the rusted bars to get a closer glimpse of the majestic beasts. (His words NOT mine.) And you know what, that girl of mine, that girl of HIS was happier than I have ever seen her. It was clear that this farm felt like home to her. While they explored, I wobbled back into the barn to sign Ila up for therapeutic riding lessons.
And while it isn’t Soho or being swallowed up by a crowd on a busy city streets, every Sunday morning I pull on my jeans and cowboy boots (hey even I need the right shoes) and drive the twenty five minutes to a barn where she rides a pony named Lukey and feels like she’s home. There isn’t a Macy’s to be found for tens and tens of miles, but she doesn’t need that. After all, she’s her daddy’s daughter.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s Motherhood, Eye on Education, Faces, and Appleseed. Logan’s previous column for Hilltown Families, Snakes and Snails: Teenage Boys Tales ran bi-monthly from June 2010-Feb. 2011, sharing stories of her first time around as a parent of two teenage boys. — Check out Hindsight Parenting: Raising Kids the Second Time Around every first and third Tuesday of the month.
[Photo credit: (ccl) Jessica Kennedy]