As a parent, I realize that part of the unwritten agreement—that no one really informs you about, and that falls under the "and other duties yet to be determined" clause in the parenting contract—is that much of my time involves waiting for my daughter. It began with dance classes at three and has transitioned through basketball, mock trial, volunteer work, and now African Dance. Coaches, teachers, tutors, etc., seem to have no understanding that I have things to do, like put on my pajamas, make dinner, call my friends, get my hair done, or attend some other event.
This year seems like the MOST waiting I’ve done for her. Ever. Maybe I am simply more aware of waiting because this is her last year at home full-time. As a high school senior, my daughter will be leaving in late summer to move into a dorm and live away from us. We are mere months away from the end of our 24/7 parenting role. It’s bittersweet. It’s turned the infernal waiting into a time of reflection. I think about my parenting, childhood, marriage, my parents’ marriage (and divorce), her future, and my relationship with my own mother.
At times, I would sit in the car texting her, irritated, asking WHEN would she be coming out from dance. Over time this waiting morphed from idleness into valued time alone with no responsibilities. While I waited, I would call friends, read, text. Basically, engaging in various distractions, relishing this minor but important sense of self-indulgence. Then, the waiting changed again. I began to take selfies as I waited. I called them #waitingforMaia selfies. If she was more than seven minutes late I would take a selfie, tag her and post it on social media. The first selfie shows clear irritation. But, as time went on, taking selfies became a game to see how often she was late. I would snap a selfie as she was running down the school stairs trying to get to the care before I took the photo. The selfies chronicle my days of sitting in one spot with an undetermined amount of time on my hands, and the process of learning to appreciate it.
The #waitingforMaia selfies have become a way to document the time I spend for her even when I’m not with her. Smiles have beome more prevalent in these selfies. Sometimes there is a guest in the selfies (or us-ies, I guess) like her father or grandmother. #WaitingforMaia selfies commemorate our dedication to her—and our love. While they began outside of her school, they now include other waiting events like college visits and school trips. I am realizing that as she drives, moves away, moves on, that there will be a time when I won’t be #waitingforMaia anymore, and it hurts to know she won’t be expecting me to wait for her… not the way I have been. But this change is good and right and developmentally appropriate, just as is my grief about the waning of these moments.
This accidental photo series is about our relationship. The blips in the mother-daughter dynamic are routine, the norm. It’s about me trying to hold onto her in my own way. I hope that she experiences these selfies as a meaningful part of OUR story together. I want her to have reminders of the mundane events that accompany love. My hope is that she is sustained by #waitingforMaia selfies when we hit rough spots. Or when I am truly no longer with her. I want her to see the smiles, the silliness, the informality of sitting in a car, with makeup on or none, work clothes and sweats, alert or exhausted. All #waitingforMaia because I WANT to be there. Waiting or not. I am always here for my girl.