Tuesday, October 8, 2013

My Daughter's Perfume

Brushing my teeth this morning I had a horrifying insight into my own worldview. I am not sure about other people, but I am terribly bored by brushing my teeth. (This, by the way, is NOT the horrifying insight—that will come soon enough.) I do it every day at least twice, but it always feels like a chore. Often I will leave the bathroom as I brush, using the time to do little tasks like moving dirty laundry from my room to the washer or putting clean towels away or opening windows to let some air in. This morning I left the bathroom and went to Isabel’s room to turn out the light in her closet. While in her room I caught a whiff of perfume and assumed she had just put it on as she was getting ready for school. That whiff of perfume triggered a cascade of thoughts and feelings that ARE the horrifying insight. I am not sure what to do with what I have seen about myself, but my first impulse is to write it down and get it out into the light to help me make sense of it. Mostly, that whiff of Isabel’s perfume made me feel achingly sad.
The chain goes something like this: my daughter is growing up a bit..she is no longer playing dress-up when she wears a touch of perfume…it is part of her morning routine…soon enough she will be in high school…and she will, at some point, start dating people…and she will be lied to and manipulated and have her heart broken. How twisted is that? A whiff of perfume leads to real true sadness about the broken hearts my daughter has not yet suffered? Why is it that I go directly to the future sadness rather than the future joy? I remember how thrilling it is to have a crush on someone. I remember the jolt when you realize they might feel the same. I can still feel the explosion of that first kiss with someone you really like. Relationships bring giddy joy as much as they do deep sadness, so why do I ignore the upside and go straight to the down? Am I someone who sees life this way?


  1. Chris,
    I very much identify with your sentiments, and I don't believe it means you are "someone who sees life this way." I am a reasonably optimistic/idealistic person, but when it comes to my children, I worry. I think morbid thoughts. I think about the angst of adolescence and worry about the pressures to which my kids will be exposed, rather than focusing on the "future joy." I think it is, for better or worse, our burden as parents. It's not pessimism or fatalism, but more of a sort of realism, and a loving desire to protect our children from pain, while knowing, at the same time, that we can't. The sadness comes from love, as corny as that sounds.

    1. Thanks a lot, Tricia. I like that way of looking at it so much better. My mom is an utter pessimist and I do not want to adopt her way of looking at the future, so when I see signs of it in me, I worry.

  2. It's a consequence of being married to me.

  3. Maybe, because as a parent you are trained (and have evolved) to protect her. Thus, her hurts and sadness are bound to have a powerful effect on you - even if imagined.