Love knows what you mean

By Mir
March 19, 2009

When I was pregnant with Chickadee, I knew she was a girl. I told her father I knew she was a girl, and he would always tell me that I had a 50/50 shot at being correct, and after she was confirmed to be a girl via ultrasound he quipped that if I gave birth to four children and correctly predicted the gender of all four, THEN he would believe that I “knew.” (I did know, though. I knew with Monkey, too.)

Meanwhile, once she was confirmed to have two X chromosomes, I sank into a quiet and private dread.

It’s not that I don’t like girls, you understand. It’s that I WAS ONCE A GIRL and I both doubted my ability to build a good mother-daughter relationship with one and also I am intimately familiar with the UTTER CRAYZEE that is the adolescent female. The bottom line is that I was terrified.

(With good reason. Ahem.)

Eleven years later, things have changed. What I didn’t know, back then, was the depths of love and joy this infuriating little creature would show me. I knew the lows would be low, but I had no idea how utterly awesome the good stuff would be. My relationship with my daughter is so very different than my relationship with my mother. Nothing prepared me for this bond, or the sometimes-rapid alternation between wanting to never let her go and wanting to chew her fool head off.

This week for Kitchen Table Reviews, we read a book called Sourpuss and Sweetie Pie (the review will be going live tomorrow). It’s the story of a little girl whose grandparents never know who they’ll get—Sourpuss, the grumpy, difficult girl, or Sweetie Pie, the charming and delightful granddaughter.

Usually when we do our reviews, we each read the book, individually, and then come back together to discuss it. This book delighted us so much, we read it aloud, together, and none of us could stop laughing.

Because HOW DID NORTON JUSTER write this book about Chickadee without us knowing?

The main character says, early on:

Poppy doesn’t like Sourpuss too much.
Neither does Nanna.
I mean, they like her because she’s me, but not so much. Do you know what I mean?

Chickadee threw her arms in the arm, football-goal style. “I know what she means!”

We laughed together. “I do, too,” I said.

Yesterday, Chickadee begged me to come to school to watch her in a competition. I obliged, even though Wednesday is my busiest day and she’d neglected to invite me until the night before. Her team won, and it was all very exciting, and when she came home from school, later, she was all smiles and thanking me for coming to cheer her on.

Less than ten minutes later she was standing here in my office SCREAMING at me because she needed an eraser and that was, apparently, the end of the world. And also my fault. Twenty minutes after that, she was helping her brother get a snack and loading the dishwasher without being asked. And telling me that I’m the greatest mom ever.

(Adolescents should come with a supply of dramamine, man. This kind of head spinning is way, WAY worse than being carsick.)

I never do know what I’ll find behind that door. It’s a wild ride, but there’s no place I’d rather be.

Happy Love Thursday, everyone. I hope each and every one of you has someone who knows what you mean.


  1. RuthWells

    Aw. Snif. So glad I’m parenting boys, not girls… ; )

  2. Megan

    Nice thing? With that self-awareness sour-puss shows her face less and less, and almost always with that disarming, charming ability to turn around a minute later with a, “gee, I was pretty awful there for a second, sorry about that!” My particular roller-coaster teen (starting age two- she was VERY GOOD at the teen stuff by the time we got to eleven) has been so thoroughly delightful for the last year I can’t help but cuddle her. Even though she’s my Prickly One and it’s a bit like trying to cuddle a yucca. But she loves me, so she lets me anyway… it’s all worth it.

  3. Aimee

    Well, Norman Juster is THE AWESOME. He wrote the Phantom Tollbooth! I am not surprised that he somehow knew about Chickadee and wrote a delightful book about her. Now I will have to read that book, too.

  4. Tracy

    I also have a son and daughter and I gotta say, my son was much, much easier to raise. The teenage years with my daughter just about did me in. I remember thinking, “just let me get her graduated from school.” Well, that’s been a few years ago, and our relationship now is the best it’s ever been. I think the stress of grades and boys, just about did us in. Now, we don’t have grades and well, she is one of the smartest women I know when it comes to boys (wonder where she gets that from). There is defintely a difference in mother/son and mother/daughter relationships and honestly, at this point in my life, I wouldn’t trade either for any thing in this world. Happy LOVE Thursday!

  5. jennielynn

    All my sympathy and a big glass of wine, chica. It’s a hard road ahead.

  6. Lori N

    Oh lordy, I’m just at the beginning of the head spinning & I’m not sure if I’m going to survive – or if our relationship will survive.

    And then she crawls into bed with me this morning all smiles and love after being EXTREMELY mad at me last night and I have hope we’ll both get through this together.

  7. Dawn

    I know what you mean. Times 2.

  8. dad

    The best is yet to come!

  9. Lee-ann

    thank you for sharing. I have three boys and a girl. Our relationship is sooo very different, us girls.

  10. Em

    Love this. I’m the mom of 1 girl and 2 boys and as much as my husband and I consider having “one more” especially in the hopes of having a sister for our daughter, my husband often tells me (in a loving way, not a one-foot-out-the-door way) “I don’t know if I could handle another girl”. I tell him ALL girls aren’t this dramatic/crazy/independant/wild but I know I’m lying.

  11. Cupcake40

    I believe those who have only boys should be thankful. No drama. My 13-year old is a drama queen to the hilt. PMS is so much fun(ha ha ha) from the other side. I worn her 12 year old sister – Beware! your time coming soon.

  12. Kath

    I know what you mean. I am a daughter. I don’t think I was an easy adolescent. I don’t have children, but I have supported my sister through her raising of a wonderful daughter. We used to say, “Evil Daughter is circling the house”. You could almost see when the good girl was going to melt down and the evil girl was going to swoop in to inhabit her ….

    Happy Love Thursday

  13. Cupcake40

    Whoops! That should have been warn, not worn.

  14. Grannycilla

    I can still remember a phone conversation I had with my mom when my daughter was 12-13. I commented that it was like living with someone with severe PMS for a year. Well the little darling overheard the conversation and piped up “I don’t appreciate that” I replied, I hadn’t intended for her to hear the remark, but never the less, it WAS true!!

    If you can make it thru until they turn 19, it does get better.

  15. Sheila

    It’s hard to wipe the tears (sometimes mine, sometimes hers) when one’s head is spinning so. Thanks for the sweet reminder that I’m not in it alone.

  16. StephLove

    Hey, you called her an adolescent. She’s ten, right? Almost eleven maybe? As the mother of an almost eight year old I refuse to believe adolescence is only two to three years off. He’s a boy, which might help matters, but still…

    I kind of maybe thought my boy was a boy and I was convinced my girl was one, too (a boy that is). I guess I don’t have the touch.

  17. Tammy

    As the mom of 3 boys, I agree that the teenage years are much easier to deal with in my house. But, those years before? Those years take a MONETARY toll…ripped jeans, 2-3 back packs per school year, coats that fit for *maybe* 2 months, shoes that are out-worn before outgrown, toys that have things done to them that make the neighbor kid from Toy Story look like a saint…sigh.

    Still, I don’t think I want to trade!

  18. heels

    As someone who has a delightful boy, but is pregnant with what is most likely a girl, I have been freaking out just a little about how this mother-daughter dynamic is going to work, especially because I have a terrible relationship with my mother. I’m SO glad to hear you say that your relationship with Chickadee is different than yours with your mom. At the same time, I’m even more terrified after reading this that having a daughter might eventually kill me. Of course, being pregnant, I could just be hormonally blowing this whole thing WAY out of proportion…!

  19. Randi

    Mir, I swear I’m going to stop reading you, dang it. I’ve got a four (almost 5) year old girl and an 8 year old boy. YOU’RE SCARING ME!

  20. Rachel

    Mir, love your blog, because I say “me too” in my head so many times, it’s scary. Knew my daughter was a girl & son was a boy without the ultrasound telling me & I just knew the whole pregnancy. I miscarried twice, & pretty sure first one was a girl & second one was a boy, but the world will never know for sure. And yeah, having a daughter scares me for the same reasons (she’s 12 now). She just had an expander put in her upper teeth/jaw yesterday & I thought of your post re monkey & the orthodontist. Also, my husband put “danger do not cross tape” across both my kids room doors a few months ago. Quite a humorous way to get his point across, I think. = ) Happy love Thursday!

  21. MomCat

    Ain’t it the truth. A few years ago, a friend (and I use the term loosely…) with grown children told me that the worst year for girls is fifteen. I’ve been dreading it ever since. Maybe instead of dramamine, I’ll go for a supply of Valium.

  22. elizabeth

    you know that expression: God only gives you what you can handle?

    yeah, I’ve got two boys.

    still a roller coaster but surely not as bad as it could be.

  23. Jen

    Your paragraph about the eraser meltdown describes my 10yo SON to a T. He has been practicing for adolescent-hood for years now, and is really good at it already. His relationship with me, and pretty much everyone else he knows, is a constant roller coaster ride.

    Last night we had a discussion about the poor attitude he was copping at his after school program yesterday. He told me, “I know it, mom. I just don’t know what is up with me sometimes. Sometimes I just have a totally bad attitude, and I don’t even know why!” I’m glad that I’m not the only one that cannot figure out what is going on with that kid sometimes.

  24. heidi

    My 14 y/o son is the same way. The speed with which they turn is mind blowing.

  25. ImpostorMom

    Great, I suppose this 2-year old multiple personality disorder continues then?

  26. hokgardner

    I’m definitely getting the book for my daughter, who loves Phantom Tollbooth – but the author’s name is Norton, not Norman.

  27. Visionsister

    My step-daughter turns 13 in a little over a month… I know what you mean!

  28. elswhere

    Must! Get! That! Book!

  29. Javamom

    Thank god for people like you. My second is a girl and I thought I wasn’t going to adjust. She’s only 17 months and I’m at my wits end with her pretty much every 10 minutes. Then I read you and I thank you for setting things right. I’m looking forward to watching my daughter grow up, even though she looks and acts nothing like me at all (she’s all daddy).

    Great blog Mir!

  30. Karen

    I must have had pretty good daughters because I don’t remember too much of this kind of stuff, except for about maybe a year before they started having their periods. The teen years were ok, too. We have pretty good relationships. Now with me and my own mother–dang it, I never know when I answer the phone if it is going to be Mommy or Mommy Dearest on the other end. Some people I know tell me it is because she is 81 years old, but no, she has always been that way.

  31. Baby Favorite

    I do know what you mean.

    And I’m scared because my daughter’s only 9!

  32. Jan

    I am so with you on being terrified of the idea of raising a girl. My daughter is only 4 1/2, but she is so much like me it literally scares me. How on earth am I going to help her get through the trials and tribulations of Life As A Girl when I barely survived it myself. It physically pains me to imagine her ever being as unhappy as I myself was at 12 and I am hopeless to imagine what my own mother could have done to save me, let alone what I will be able to do to help her.

    I’ll stop before I get myself into full-blown panic attack mode. :)

  33. mama speak

    I have 2 girls (and knew that they were girls too.) Big is my rule following, sweetheart. Being sweet, in her case, comes w/being sensitive. She’s smart enough to understand being left out and hurt by it at age 5. The neighborhood cliques, havestarted already, luckily we’re “in”, but as they get older things could change. She’s the one I’ll worry about.
    Little, is my manic child. She’s super happy & extremely pissed, there’s no gray area w/this kid. I can’t begin to imagine what she’ll be like when the hormones kick in, cause she’s already like PMS and she’s only 2. In her case, I’ll worry about the other kids who try to keep up w/her. That and I know that she’ll be the one breaking the rules; sneaking out, buying alcohol, etc…How do I know this? She’s the daughter my mother wished on me when I was teenager; “I hope you have a daughter JUST. LIKE. YOU!” Yeah, I’m keeping a short reign on her. But she’s the one that is super snuggly and giggly. Sometimes I’m so in love with her I can’t stand myself.
    I know you know what I mean.

  34. Nick Danger

    I’m a dad of 3 girls, and the second I heard “It’s a girl”, I let out a deep relaxing sigh of relief. If they were boys, I KNOW what kind of trouble they could get into.

    But they were girls, and I didn’t know enough to be scared. But now, 7 years later, the more I read, the more I become very afraid.

  35. carrien

    My I remember laying there after my girl was born, I was sure she was another boy, and thinking, “A girl! But I don’t know what to do with a girl. Boys I have figured out, but what do I do with a girl?”

    Five years later… I still don’t know what to do with a girl. She already has me spinning. Sigh.

    But she is the most beautiful thing, bursting with life and affection. I wouldn’t trade her for anything.

  36. Musings from Me

    I have 10- and 13-year-old girls. I’m in year 4 of preteen and not loving it. My youngest is quicker to reach the preteen milestones than her sister was. Great!

    My oldest is a force to be reckoned with. We go from having wonderful adult-like conversations to tense arguments where I lecture and she pouts. Never a happy medium with her, but she has been like this since birth. At least I am used to her by now.

    I think it is the bright kids — in this case girls — who are so difficult to manage. There are times when I know my daughter is sharper than I am. I don’t resent her. It’s just that it makes it more difficult for me to manage her. I have to make sure I am one step ahead of her in an argument. She wants to have an explanation for everything. Frustrating. She’s very bright–took her SAT just as she turned 13. I know she will go far…I just have to survive her childhood!

  37. mythoughtsonthat

    I have only a boy so I don’t know what it’s like to have a girl. But my boy can have his emotional moments, too. Peace for all of us, trying to raise these kids!

  38. Mary

    “Adolescense” (I had to look up that word, as I try not to think about it) seems to be starting earlier and earlier–this is so NOT a good thing. I still maintain that the worst years are grades 7 and 8 — I have two classrooms full of students I’d like to send off somewhere–Arctic Circle?–until they’re once again tolerable. However, I’m noticing the same distressing behaviors beginning in 4th and 5th grade, mainly among the girls. One of my teachers says they are “transescents”–revving up for adolescense. Personally, my boys were easier as adolescents–but certainly had their moments.

  39. mom, again

    I’ve correctly guessed 3.

    My girls & I survived their adolescence. They are surprisingly nice adults. Competent even. I sometimes feel so immature in comparison!

  40. daring one

    I often comment incredulously on the apparent schizophrenia of our children, especially Laylee. Sometimes I just can’t keep up with the whiplash of her moods but it all comes back to this fierce sort of need/love and I almost forget how angry she was at me 10 minutes earlier.

  41. Katie in MA

    My mom would tell us when we were being difficult, “It’s a good thing I love you!” That sounds rotten when you read it, but if you heard the tone…yes, I see you mommies understand. I find myself saying the same thing to *my* little girls. THe other day, 4-yr-old Gracie said to me, “I know, Mommy, it’s a good thing you love me, right?”

    It’s hard(er) to be upset when they’re so gosh-darned cute. (And usually when you so want to be upset!)

  42. becky

    OMG, yes, the Jekyll and Hyde. It was tough during the teenage years. But we got through it. You will, too. Maybe with a little grayer hair…

  43. Half Assed Kitchen

    I have a girl, 4, and dude! I already have whiplash.

  44. Asianmommy

    Hee! Love the door sign.

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