On mothers and daughters and music and fire

Last night I sat around smoldering embers with the child of Arkansas.  She asked for another torch and then settled for sticking a branch into the flames and writing smoky letters using the night sky as her canvas.

She bounced restlessly from chair to chair under the half moon, and finally settled down on the grass.  The little dog, ever her sentry, was restless too: the night sounds, distant sirens and neighborhood kids screeching like banshees left her anxious about protecting her little girl.  The child in her red dress pulled her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them in the classic kid pose, and she stared at the remnants of our fire.  It looked like a glowing pile of precious gems, and we both considered it for a long while.

When I went to fetch a blanket for her and wine for me, she requested music.  She wants constantly to have the radio on, a CD playing, to be surrounded by music, while I find myself increasingly enjoying a silent backdrop.  I realize, though, that her life has a soundtrack that accompanies the vivid script in her head.  I remember rifling through my parents’ albums and settling with gusto on “Greatest Hits of the 50s” or Tanya Tucker belting out Delta Dawn.  And so, I return with an iPod and speakers, and we sit there together by the fading fire listening to music.

Will she run off to join a band?

She jumps up to dance around for some songs, and lays on the blanket staring up at the sky with a happy look on her face for others.  Best of all, the music and the fire and the dog and the blanket and the backyard give me an hour of the kind of easy and comfortable time in her presence that will probably start to fade in the coming years.  There’s a tension between mothers and daughters that is permeable and predictable, and even anticipating and dreading it can’t prevent it.

Will she be stubborn? Probably. I secretly hope so, even though I know I’ll regret it.

I know I’ve built a foundation with her that will help us both survive, and I hope that like my mother and me, we’ll emerge on the other side with the kind of deep relationship that I can’t imagine living without.  It still scares me that those years are approaching, though.

And so I play my part in the age-old story, snapping at her far too frequently and constantly demanding her best, even when she always gives it anyway.  She is beautiful, kind, intelligent, truly funny and I am the lucky one to watch her as she evolves.  And so, too, I’m glad for the moments in the backyard by a dying fire under a half moon with the silhouette of the little girl in a dress holding a branch and dancing with a little dog beside her… to the soundtrack in her head.

12 thoughts on “On mothers and daughters and music and fire

  1. AUDRA!! I can’t comment on your blog for some reason (enable it?), so I’m going to have a conversation with you here on mine.

    1. I saw that same fateful hoop and adored it – you’ll make me one, right?
    2. I love you and your kids and your nature exploration.
    3. I obviously love numerated lists.
    4. The Zooki Zeeni site is FAB and going STAT on my list of faves here!
    5. I’m an ENFP too! Why is that not a shocker?

    Ok, thanks for the fun comment and for reading. Apologies for the ramble, but hey – you get it in an ENFP way, right? :)

  2. Beth, I’m sitting here with tears welled in my eyes. Maybe because the little girl you describe sounds so much like a version of myself at that age. Or maybe because I have two little girls. Or maybe just because I have PMS, and anything will make me cry. Regardless of which reason, great post.

  3. Beth, I find myself sitting here with tears welled in my eyes. Maybe it’s because the way you describe her sounds like a younger version of myself. Or maybe, it’s because I have two little girls who might one day act like this. Or, maybe more likely, it’s because I have PMS and everything makes me cry. Regardless of the reason, great post.

  4. I read this in the car returning from a camping trip with my little girl who is now taller than I. She still loves to stoke the fire, though she has always been likely to sit in one chair and read by headlight when the campfire light was not enough. And having passed that transition from little girl to young woman, I can only say that we keep camping because it’s one of the few activities we still share that allows me to catch glimpses of that little girl. I think it’s the firelight.

    • It IS the firelight, Lisa! That gave me chills – thanks for sharing! We’re camping next weekend – I’m so ready. Let’s catch up this week about Arkansas Outside – I know you’ve been hopping too. :) Plus, sometimes you have to stop writing about being outside to spend some time there, right?

    • J! Miss you all so much! I need some Creek Wilson in my life. And y’all took of course. Yes, please – play date soon!! I should be in Fay in the next week or two – will shoot you a note. XO!

  5. Great sketch! Moments like that should happen more often. You really captured it. And I liked the part in which you describe her wanting to listen to music, and, even though you’re at a point where you need quiet more, you brought out your music player anyway. For her.

    • Thank you so much for reading and for the kind words, Richard! I have really loved using writing through the years to capture some of these things I want to remember with the girls. I’m not stellar at always having a camera handy and this is the best way I know to try to hold on to those moments – to just stop and describe them as intricately as I’m able. Anyway – thanks again. We need to get the girls together more often – we loved hanging out with you all!

      • You are welcome. I used to write in a journal on a regular basis (long ago), and I like the reflection writing requires (or gives?). And, yes, we’d love to see you all, too!

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