Naila Culpepper: I think I do. On most days, that is.
She's beautiful, witty, athletic, outgoing, and super tenacious. She's exacting, punctual, and hates breakfast. She thinks there should be a moratorium on euthanizing animals. She quotes Kimora Lee Simmons and says thank-you to beggars and bums when they hold the door for her. But she's not popular. In fact, she avoids lunchtime by hanging out in the computer lab, so sitting alone won't be so obvious. She pretends the jokes made at her expense don't sting, although she can't help but listen to the discussions about birthday parties she wasn't invited to. It's happened for the last two years so continually that at times I have grown dull to her pain, because on most days, much like most preteens, she hides her hurt well.
Last night was different, and sadly, I almost missed the window to comfort her. My day was less than stellar, and I was hoping to slink into the house and be bare-minimum mom for the night. Say hello, hug, cook, small talk, bed for her, some peace and rest for me. While I washed dishes, I saw that glance shifting in the silence, waiting for me to offer her space. I turned away, even as she asked me to come sit and talk to her. I wanted it, whatever it was, to wait another day.
She sensed my closed door and relented, picked up a book, and withdrew. The gleam in her eye gone, there she was, just my little girl who needed me more than I needed to be alone.
I wrapped her tall-as-me body in my arms and the tears started immediately, sobs caving her shoulders so much that I had to clench my own jaws to avoid crying.
"Why don't they like me, Mama? Everyone has at least one friend except me."
I rattle off a few names of girls that she occasionally mentions.
"They only like me sometimes."
"I think you are perfect, and strong, and wonderful," I say, knowing it's not enough.
"They act like I don't have feelings, Mom."
I let her share all her pain with more detail about her aloneness than I want to know. This is my firstborn and joy, and all I can do is hold her, wondering if the parents of the children who cause this hurt ... know who their child is.
Because in a flash, I almost lost sight of mine.
|Naila, Single, 40 and Preggers, is originally from Boston. Her passion is all things sports and her two kiddos -- one 12 and one on the way.|