For Jenny and me it was a different story. Our interaction was strained and polite. I remember looking at her face, watching her watch her father, feeling the unbridgeable chasm between us. I wondered how she felt about all the changes in her life throughout her high-school years. Now she was a senior, and her father had invited me into his world and consequently into hers. For some reason I thought about the book We're Going on a Bear Hunt, a book I had read to my children many times. On every page some obstacle presents itself to the reader, and the following refrain echoes again and again:
Can't go over it.
Can't go under it.
Can't go around it.
Have to go through it.
I asked Jenny if she wanted to leave the golf course, hop in my car, and go to the Sonic drive-through a few miles up the road. She shrugged and nodded and followed me to the car. I knew the conversation that needed to happen and was fighting back tears before we even got out of the driveway.
I felt like someone who'd borrowed a car without asking, returned it to the front driveway completely wrecked, and then walked into the house trying to act like everything was normal.
It was an awful feeling.
Driving up Franklin Road, I found myself stringing thoughts and words together that I hoped she would hear. It took everything in me to push those words into the air between us.
In response, she rolled the window down and lit a cigarette. Then her cell phone rang.
I welcomed the chance to collect myself.
As I listened to her side of the conversation, it dawned on me that her life was filled with people whom she had chosen, as was mine. Circumstances had brought us together, but that didn't guarantee a relationship. Slowly, awkwardly, we outlined a kind of truce between us: what she could tolerate, what we were willing to accept in each other. Even in this slightly adversarial setting, I loved her mind. It was a good first respectful step.
Over the years, little by little, meal by meal, birthday by birthday, phone call by phone call, Christmas by Christmas, card game by card game, trip by trip, movie by movie, conversation by conversation, we became family.
I had always wanted five kids.
Happy Mother's Day.
Read more excerpts from Amy Grant's Mosaic:
"How Did I Wind Up Here?"