I used to write short love notes on Post-it Notes and put them in Constance’s lunch. This was to provide her with an opportunity to read as much as anything. At least once weekly, a note would simply say, “Dear Constance, thank you for being my daughter. Love, Mom.” I was hell-bent on her knowing she was a blessing to me. It would have been easy to let the frustration I felt at navigating the healthcare system or fighting for her to have access to a community become directed at her. I wasn’t going to let that happen. I kissed, hugged, and praised her as much as she would let me.
Constance was definitely a momma’s girl. She had started refusing to go places with her father if I wasn’t going also. She would happily get dressed but she wouldn’t go near the door without me. She’d even come and get me and hold my hand. If he tried to force her into his car, she should scream and cry for me. Of course, seeing her upset was troubling. It meant that, with the rare exception, I had to go with them to whatever they were doing. However, it was no secret I was delighted to be her favorite parent.
There were obvious reasons why she preferred me—for example, I was the one who took her to all of her activities. Her father had a different parenting style. A good demonstration of this is with her liquid medication. To cover its foul taste, I put it into flavored water for her. Then she’d taste the flavoring and happily drink it. Her father insisted on forcing her to drink the medication directly because, “If you make her, she’ll take it without that.” When I inquired why he would make her do something so unpleasant when he didn’t have to, he said, “She’s fine. She can drink it.”
I didn’t want to have a relationship with her that was a battle of wills. We loved and respected each other. I often worried that our close relationship might become strained as she grew older and began experiencing the challenges of being a teenager. Oh, what I wouldn’t give for her to be able to become a willful, independent teenager.