Monday, February 1, 2010

adolescence on both ends

someone once told me, when my kids were little, "when they're in the terrible-twos, you have to nip that defiance and anger in the bud. because if you don't get it then, they'll give it to you way worse in adolescence."

and when my youngest daughter was born, my mother laughed and said to me, "you were such a bad daughter, god gave you THREE."

so on one side, i've got zarina screaming, throwing tantrums, lying and breaking rules (only to be comforted by her father who doesn't mind being yelled at - maybe it's a divorced-dad guilt-thing) and telling me how much she hates me and hates being around me and how stupid and pathetic i am.

and on the other side, i've got my mother using every extra second of her breath to try to convince me to have a hysterectomy, "just do it for me..." and in between to show me how the accumulation of all her advice would have kept me from getting cancer in the first place.

or so it seems. to me.

because as the chemotherapy shoots my hormones down to premenopausal, zarina's hormones are kicking in and we're both volatile candidates for spontaneous combustion.

she came from school and got angry that there wasn't a thermos for her to make tea for ballet. and i got so fed up that i went and got a blue-and-yellow-and-green pedicure.

as i get skinny, dryskinned and sexless, zarina gets spots, and shoots up and out in awkward ways like a young, clumsy horse. i need to remember that i am leaving the material world, a little at a time, as she is stepping into it.

i spent some time with a friend today and i spent most of our conversation being completely irritated with her. i think she was trying to say kind and soothing and reassuring things, but all i wanted was for her to agree with me. i was oversensitive and frustrated and tired.

zarina is hyper-sensitive and always tired because her body is moving so fast.

here's the other part of the terrible-twos' advice that i just learned. if you don't learn how to negotiate your relationship with your parents gracefully when you are an adolescent, if you don't successfully create a separate identity and clear boundaries, you will have to re-live your adolescence until you do.

so i need to stop blowing up and let zarina do her thing.

while i try to kindly explain to my mother that i know she loves me and she cares - and like everyone dealing with cancer, she's frightened - i am no longer 14.


  1. Please post photo of blue green yellow pedicure. and , Ameena, I am not sure people in NY know what "spots" they usually says 'zits'. so i just get that out there. xoxo Nora

  2. it's a sandwiched complexity living life with so many different girlwomen and womenwomen. kind of like a continuum of hormones from begining to who knows what end. and i believe that you are not leaving the material world; perhaps only changing the materials with which you live in this world. of course what you believe reigns. i thought i might offer up another point of view. (as yet another woman in your life. ha!)

    the bright side: this and a few of the last mini essays you've written are peerlessly graceful. welcome back to your pen. please don't put it down.


  3. Your instincts are your strongest suit. Trust them and they won't disappoint you.

    (sounds like a fortune cookie but it works for me)

  4. I am almost certain that what Zarina wants to say is that she loves you and is scared to death that you might be leaving, but she doesn't know how to express this especially with raging hormones. I am sorry you are going through this. I don't think I could handle a 14 year old saying nasty things to me - she is lucky I am not her mother! As for the ex-husband? He is only making matters worse by validating her anger. This is enraging.