She’s in her room, upset about something.

I’m in the hallway, upset about something.

We’re both waiting for the other to give in, unwilling to make the first move. Except I’m the grown up, and I should act like it. Instead, I make her stay in her room until her dad gets home – a long time. I stomp around the house, mad at her. Mad at myself.

We sometimes get locked in this vicious cycle of quick tempers and hurt feelings. Every time, I tell myself it’s going to be different. Every time…it isn’t. She doesn’t change, because I don’t change. Sometimes I act like a canyon separates us, but it’s only a bedroom door.

This last time, I stood in the hallway and listened to her cry. “Make it different,” I think. I open the door.

“I don’t want you! I want Daddy!”

I turn my head so she won’t see my angry expression. “He’s not here. It’s just me.”

“I want Daddy!”

I try again. “Honey, can you please stop and listen? I need you to make good choices and start being a good girl.”

“I’m bad because you keep getting mad! I want to be a good girl but I can’t! I want Daddy!”

Sigh. “Okay. Well, I’m going to be leaving for a trip tomorrow, and I was hoping our last day together could be nice and -”

“NO MOMMY! NO! Please don’t go!”

More tears fill her eyes. I sit on the bed next to her, surprised, and she wraps her arms around me tightly.

“I want to keep you, I just love you too much!”

I tell her I love her, too, and hold her close.

She’s not the only one with growing to do.