And so it begins.

I almost didn’t recognize her. It was the usual time, the usual bunkbed. My nearly-nine year old sat up amidst her millions of stuffies, rubbed her eyes and scowled at me. Scowled. This, from the child who has greeted me every day with a smile since she first had gas. She’s a happy kid with a ready grin. At least she was. Today, she was grouchy, demanded more sleep. Didn’t want me to touch her. Wouldn’t get out of bed. But more than anything it was the way she looked at me. Like I was more a stranger (or an enemy) than her Mommy.

 

She grumbled through breakfast. Grumbled and glared out the car window on the way to school. Barely let me kiss her. I’m not even sure she said goodbye as she fled up the walkway to the building. I greedily hugged my six-year old who still clings to me like a monkey to a tree.

When it came time to pick them up from school, my older daughter still wore an expression of exasperation/frustration/anger. Her patience was zero. I asked her if she was feeling well, held my hand to her forehead several times but she wasn’t sick. No fever, no cold. She barely spoke to me and if she did she it was a monosyllabic response. By bedtime I was aching for my fun-loving kiddo, to hear her crazy giggle that bounces off walls and lands solidly in my heart. There are few things better than the laughter of your child. But there was no laughter from her on that day.

Once my youngest had gone to bed, my eldest and I lay on my bed and snuggled under the covers as I read to her, as I always do. She wasn’t angry anymore, just melancholy. After I finished reading, we hugged and I kissed her head, breathing in her sweet self. She let me. I asked her if she was okay, that she seemed different that day. She answered, “I don’t know. I just woke up feeling this way. I don’t know what’s wrong.”

I do. It’s hormones, dammit. I know that answer all too well (have uttered it myself for years now). And I know she will say it over and over again, as will her sister soon enough. Much as I love being a mother and am heartened every day by the sight of my children, I fear these next few years. Maybe it won’t be so bad if we mothers can journey together.

And so it begins.