I never saw the door closing, but I was battered by the whirlwind it created. One moment I was central to every aspect of her life, the next, I am locked out. Barred.
Those open discussions, of earlier years, have dried up like a stoney desert river, with only the odd, single word responses dripping through. Quality time is reduced to accidental meetings in the bathroom corridor and family love only seems to flow in one direction.
Was it me who slammed the door when I repeatedly expressed my concerns about that boy Joss? Or was it her, when the number of ‘likes’ on Facebook became far more important than being liked by her mother?
When she was younger, there was nothing separating us. We were real friends in a special relationship. I championed her independence, sharing a master key to each other’s lives.
Later, I held the outside gate wide open and encouraged her to explore, expand, and experiment. I stayed by the fence and watched her go. Far enough away for her to feel freedom; near enough to remain in my comfort zone.
Now there is this barrier which has been firmly bolted. It is blocking my access to her and creating long, dark shadows of depression. There are no windows, so she doesn’t see me pushing. She doesn’t hear my head banging against the frame. She doesn’t feel my pain. I linger on the outside of her life, like a groupie without a ticket, while her friends stroll past me into her welcoming arms. Their bond deepens, as I stand alone in the cold.
I’m not a locksmith, nor a joiner. I’m a mother who tried to give her daughter all the skills and experiences to develop into an autonomous teenager. I propelled her independence. And now I want her back. To start again.
There must have been something wrong with the original blueprint. The end product was supposed to be so different.
Where is that household with open borders, walls made of flexible, woven willow, and wide pathways, with handrails, leading to the ever expanding horizon? That faded dream of security, based on family connectivity, not alarms, movement sensors and impregnable vaults, has vanished in the reality of adolescence.

The only person I can now influence, is myself. So I’ll brush the welcome mats, display the ‘Open’ signs and ensure that those hidden trapdoors and threatening portcullises are dismantled and ineffective. A bright candle will glow in the hallway.
I have to believe that one day I will hear the latch being pulled back, see the door swing open and experience pure joy as she steps freely over the threshold.
And when she does, for once, I won’t remind her to ‘close that damn door’ behind her. The new warmth will more than compensate for the cold chill, that always seeps through the cracks.

Published: Second Place, Life Stories (Australia), November 2022.