Tweet My daughter drove a nail through her nostril.
I arrived home late after a meeting and, like the loving mother I am, checked in on my precious fifteen year old daughter. I opened her bedroom door and the light from the hall fell across her angelic, sleeping face.
Oh, look, I giggled to myself. She's using one of those Bioré® pore strips. Except, well, it didn't look anything like the pore strips of my youth, so I flipped on the light switch. That's when 65 watts of lighting exposed the medical gauze taped across her nose.
Was she kicked in the face by a cow again? That's how she broke her nose the last time. I bent down, straining to see if there was any indication of black and blue bruising under her eyes, silently cursing out Big V in my head because what kind of man doesn't call the mother when her baby gets beamed in the head by a hoof? But there was no bruising that I could see. So I moved closer. A mere inch separated my caffeine ladenned breath from her carefully covered nose. Around and around her face I searched for something, anything, a clue of some sort that would tell me why my daughter's nose was bandaged.
And that's when I saw it. You see, they always leave evidence at a crime scene. CSI taught me that. And there it was -- someone had shoved the back of an earring into the right nostril of my daughter.
Oh no she didn't! I yanked that bandage off so quick and with such force she immediately sat up in bed. "Wha -? Huh?"
"Don't you dare say a word! What the hell is in your nose? You pierced your nose? What the hell is wrong with you? Are you some sort of idiot? Do you know how stupid that looks? Did you get a tattoo, too? Maybe a nice grim reaper to go along with the body mutilation? Were your bored? You couldn't find a toilet to clean or a floor to scrub to keep you busy? You had to pierce your nose?!"
(Don't worry; I'm not running for Mother of the Year. Ever since that one time when I kind of didn't believe that her arm really hurt that bad, and way later when I finally got around to taking her to the doctor and the x-rays showed it was actually broken in two places, they told me I wasn't even allowed to apply.)
Gingerly touching the side of her nose - the mutilated side with the piercing sticking out of it - she quietly asked, "Aren't you proud of me?"
"Proud of you?" I spat. "What, exactly, would I be proud of? Please explain to me where the sense of pride would come in to play."
In a quiet whisper she spoke: "I did it all by myself."
And just like that she was standing at the bathroom sink, three years old, way up high on her tip toes, trying to get a peek at her beautified face - smothered and slathered with bright red lipstick she had found in my drawer. "I did it all by myself!" she had explained so proudly.
And just like that she was bursting through the door, five years old, pigtails flying, shouting at the top of her lungs "I rode my bike! I rode my bike!" and throwing her arms around my legs. "I did it all by myself!"
And just like that she was seven years old, sitting on the floor surrounded by eight of her Barbie doll friends all sporting the same pixie hair-cut, scissors still in her hand, smiling up at me, "I did it all by myself!"
And just like that she was nine years old, covered in blood, fleeing from her dad, miles from where she had been - where she was supposed to be, tears streaming down her face as she ran into the driveway, frantically screaming about running and falling and the police and me not understanding asking her over and over how did you get here? Her answer, "I did it all by myself."
And just like that she was ten years old, opening my bedroom door with a tray full of breakfast: soggy cheerios that had sat too long, a tall glass of milk I dreaded to taste, and a plate of scrambled eggs hot off the stove. Eggs? You made eggs? "I did it all by myself."
A thousand examples I have of her doing things all by herself. Things she was too afraid to do, but faced her fear and did them anyway. Things I didn't agree with. Things I thought she was too young for. Things I thought she'd never be able to do. Things that pained my heart when I learned she did them. A whole lifetime of "I did it all by myself" already lived, and yet a whole lifetime of "I did it all by myself" awaits.
Just when I think I'm seconds away from strangling the life out of this kid who makes me want to scream and pull my hair out, I'm left with this overwhelming feeling to wrap her in my arms and never, ever let her go. To hold her, and protect her, and love her forever.
But don't let that fool you - the first runny nose that girl has I'm not feeling sorry for her in the least. Good luck blowing that two thousand times a day, kid!