In the 24 years I’ve been parenting two sons and the 21 I’ve been building a business, I’ve had (and seen) a lot of different experiences with “raising Arizona kids.” But there was always one experience I felt had been denied: the chance to feel a mother-daughter bond.
For the last five months, I’ve been blessed with even that.
My husband and I welcomed my second cousin Sheryl’s daughter to our home this semester as she took a brave step in self-growth. Andrea, who grew up in Erie, Pa. and had never lived anywhere else, decided to transfer to ASU. She’d fallen in love with Arizona after a couple of week-long visits to “Aunt Karen’s.”
Though I worried a bit beforehand about how this arrangement would work out, I can honestly say her presence in our home — and in my life — has been tranformational.
With Andrea, I have had the best of a mother-daughter relationship because it came without the complicated layers and threads that bind real mothers and daughters. I could enjoy this young woman without a cloud of history — parenting through divorce, fighting through the teenage years or worrying when she stayed out too late. With this daughter-who-is-not-my-daughter I could truly be myself, without the second guessing and self-censorship that often comes with navigating tricky parent-child boundaries.
Best of all, I could laugh with someone who really “gets” me. After a lifetime with two brothers, a husband and two sons, that daily, joyful dose of female companionship in my home was exquisite.
Last week, Andrea wrapped up her finals, achieving a 4.0 GPA despite a tough course load that included organic chemistry. Courtney, her “best friend since first grade,” flew out from Erie to spend a few days with us before both girls flew home yesterday.
I got 24 text messages from Andrea yesterday and sent as many myself. It’s a girl thing.