"I only wanted to play so I could be like you," she told me, through her sobs.
Every violin practice for the last month has ended in tears. Hers and mine.
She asked to take lessons a couple of years ago, so I obliged her, thrilled that she was interested in learning the instrument I'd spent most of my own life playing. Even more thrilled that she was so good at it.
But then it got harder, as these things always do. And the practice sessions became fewer and farther between, as these things do when you're the one left in charge of the kids, the house, the whereabouts of everyone's shit.
And when you're doing something because you want to be like your mom and not because you actually like it.
At first, I'd get frustrated when she wouldn't get something. Then she'd get frustrated when she didn't get something because she thought I'd get frustrated with her.
"I just don't want you to get mad at yourself when you mess up because it's okay to mess up. I lived my whole life believing it was bad to fail. I missed out on so much. Learn from my mistakes."
It sounded like a poorly written screenplay, overracted. Desperate.
I remember hating to practice, my own mom yelling at me, the timer in her hand, the countless hours I spent holed up in my room playing music I'd much rather be dancing in pointe shoes to.
I was really good at ballet, close to professional even, and I loved it with every ounce of my being, but one day, when I was about 15, my mom decided that I couldn't dance anymore.
And music was all I had.
Music filled with the anger and longing I had for ballet.
I played the violin because I was good at it, not because I loved it. And since I've had kids, I haven't picked it up.
I don't miss it. At all.
Quinlan practiced alone in her room for awhile, with a list I'd write of things she needed to cover, but inevitably I'd hear her start and stop the same measure of music 45 times, mostly because she's not practicing consistently because I just can't do and be everything that I want to or am supposed to or whatever it is that a homeschooling, sometimes single, full time work at home mom "could you try to remember to return the clothes to Sears when you get a chance, hon" GIVE ME A FUCKING BREAK ALREADY ARE THEY GOING TO MELT IN THAT BAG IN THE CLOSET? Do we need the $30 right this second?
It's me, not her.
She's good at it but she doesn't really like it.
And so I let her quit.
I worry that she'll regret it. That she'll learn that you give up on things that are hard for you, things you just don't like.
But what's so wrong with that?
She'll eventually learn that things will get challenging and that you can't always quit them. She'll get over the regret.
But will she forgive me when she digs out from under the piles of my unresolved shit?
"It's just a wooden thing in a box," I told her, as I held her tightly in my arms. "It's not worth shedding tears over anymore."
Hers. Or mine.