One of the biggest lies told by and to parents is that we love all our children equally. That's not true. We love them all differently, so differently that comparing the strength or the sensation is like comparing apples and cheese steak. Yet even as I type this, I am filled with guilt and anxiety. What if they read this and one or all of them is hurt by my words? What if adults judge me harshly, particularly those without children who have no counter factual to explain the love hate relationship of parent and child. Does it make it worse that I have never pretended with my daughters that my love for them is equal, just or fair?
My love for my daughters has and always will be highly contextual, ever changing, mercurial and often arbitrary. I love them more when I have time, when they interest me, when they do what I tell them, when they are in the room, and best when I am holding them. I love them less when they are bickering like monkies fighting over a chunk of mango, whining, their bedroom is a wreck, or the kitchen dishes are not done. It turns out that with Jaime I love her more the farther away she is and with Aeron the more time I spend in her company. My love is selfish and fierce and simultaneously protective and destructive. In other words, my love for my children is typical.
To the point at hand, I have already lost a daughter to the inevitablity of growing up. Granted, we pushed her out, but Jaime's departure signals the beginning of the end of the Congers as a unit of five who eat, sleep, travel, grow, and change together. Jaime is the daughter with whom I never want to live again. She is -- as currently constituted and stipulating that she will change over time -- the world's worst housemate. It is with tremendous relief that we saw the back of her a second time. Which allows me to reflect from a distance that the way I love Jaime is similar to the love companions at arms must feel. She is the one to whom I have and will again entrust my life. She is my fierce one, my strong and capable one. Oddly, I don't trust her to manage a few hundred dollars but think nothing of assigning her as trustee and guardian in my will, placing her in charge of the funds, the goods, the futures of her sisters. Jaime has my back. She has always had my back. She will always have my back.
Aeron is home and laughter and a cat on your lap. She is the silly anime cuddly creature in fifteen different equally cute poses that you send to friends to make them smile. Aeron is the one I love because it is impossible not to love her, because it is so easy to enfold her in my arms and breathe deeply of her warm sweet smell and remember only the best moments of the girls' childhood when mom and dad were safety and happiness and perfection and a couch cushion all rolled into one.
Mera is my friend. Of the three, she is the one with whom I have had the most long talks and the very long walks, the one who listens and challenges and shares. I love her the way you love a best friend or buddy, someone you seek out just to have a glass of wine and discuss the world and philosophy and the way the elastic in a new bra pinches. She is the one who lingers after dinner to finish a discussion of current events and who disappears into a book the instant you cease to be interesting.
And as each one leaves, I am struck again by the way in which people who live together carve groves in each other's souls. We grind against one another, rattling around in the polishing can of the family home and gradually wear off the sharp bits until everyone has a place and all the pieces more or less fit together. I am so unreasonably proud of Jaime off on her Queenstown adventure proving once again her capacity for scrappy thriving in the face of adversity. And I can not honestly say I want her back because holy god it sucks to live with her. But my world without Jaime has an enormous Jaime-shaped hunk missing. She was supposed to be the easy one to let go, and it is so fucking hard.
I want them back. I want them small and warm and breathing in out in out in the room next door. I want my guard and my kitten and my friend and I don't want to let them have their own damn lives somewhere else. My love is selfish and mercurial and fierce.