Minding the Gap
On the train home from the city (THE city, mind you) yesterday, we rode on one of the new double-decker trains. I sat comfortably behind a giggling girlchild and her best-friend-of-the-moment. My role was utilitarian. I was the financier and the chauffer for this grand birthday event.
We had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, and then the two girls saw ‘Spring Awakening’ while I found a bench nearby where I could sit and knit. The girlchild and her best-friend-of-the-moment (you know, they need to develop a phrase as catchy as BFF! BFoTM! doesn’t work nearly as well.) ignored me completely the entire day, unless money was needed.
Sitting behind them, watching the world flow by, I was caught by the rhythm of the train and the sounds that accompanied it. At every stop this wonderfully sonorous, somewhat mechanical female voice would announce the station, followed by ‘watch the gap’.
In England it is ‘mind the gap’, and personally that works better for me. To ‘mind’ something isn’t to simply to see it, but to obey it in the same way that you ‘mind your manners’. It is introspection of a sort, which brings about a change in behavior.
When I’m told to ‘mind my manners’, I’m being told to see what I am doing and to reflect on the appropriateness of my actions and to change them if necessary. When I’m told to ‘mind the gap’ it is to do the same. To see, reflect, and adapt.
On the train home from the city (THE city, mind you) yesterday, I found myself minding another gap. This gap isn’t painted with yellow paint cautioning me to be careful in my steps, nor am I reminded of its existence by an ever-patient announcer. No, it’s the gap that exists between my daughter and I, a gap brought about by raging hormones and differing priorities. And I do mind it. I ‘mind the gap’ by being aware of it, and reflecting on it, and changing my own responses based on what I see.
The fact is that the gap is increasing, making it easier to see (if not easier to mind). I find myself watching her – waiting for those rare moments when I see the baby and child she once was. There are flickering moments when she is what she once was, and other moments that suggest the wonderful woman she is becoming. Most of the time, however, the gap is gaping and ever-present. There are times when I reflect that there isn’t a bridge in the world (even if I could suspend my disbelief) that would allow me to cross.
And that is as it should be.
We’ve raised her to be a fiercely independent young woman in a diverse community. She’s at the point in her life when she needs to wander a bit from what is her established home. She is in a place where peer relationships, even those best-friends-of-the-moment, are critical. I know this.
I also mind this.
For although we’ve been working towards the moment when she is capable of living on her own, we have been soley focusing on her. This gap is created by her moving away – first emotionally, then physically – and our remaining here. I need to focus a bit more inwardly – to ‘mind the gap’ more intentionally – and to trust that the foundation we’ve laid these many years will be enough.
The train pulls up to our station and my daughter reacts to my tapping her on the shoulder with scorn. “I know, Mom” she states with her patented eye-roll. They get off the train behind me, taking their time as we walk towards the car. Someday soon she’ll be walking to her own car, and I won’t be in the story at all.
Somehow I’ll find a way not to mind it.
Oh man – is this what I have to look forward to?