Here I stand in the rain with mom's suitcase. Frustrated by the way I got to this place. By now it's been 6 years since I last stood outside, angry. Back then I stood with my back to the door, now I have to watch it for him to open. My daughter is standing next to me, proud that she's getting to take the suitcase with her. In the meantime it's eating away at me that I have to let her go here. Just like mom I decided to do things alone. Her situation was so different from mine. Dad lived in the UK, her father is just living here, a few kilometers from where I live. He wanted to participate in raising her. I held my ground, insisting that I would do it my own way. Yet here I stand, we'll have to do this together. He has a right to her as much as I do. We'll have to raise her together. After all, he really wanted to participate.

Mom decided to raise me alone. Dad barely knew what happened and all the while he was always happy to see me, I knew he was also glad that mom did most of the work. My decision to raise my own child on my own, I simply followed mom's example in this, I assumed I'd have mom's courage too. Looking back, everything just became too much for him, at first things seemed to go well, we had an apartment and we both did our best together. But then we went to buy a bed, clothes and a stroller. We went to the store three times and nothing was good enough for him, he just kept doubting it all. It became too much for him to even think about it. He came up with reasons and those reasons progressively turned into excuses. It made the lady at the store desperate too. No decision could be made. And so eventually I did it on my own. I went to the store alone and picked what I could afford. I came home and there he was, hands in his hair and a desperation in his eyes. The future became too much for him. Our future became too much for him.

The following days became increasingly frustrating. He got stuck and couldn't move on. A week later he grabbed some of his things and left to reflect on things. Two months later he came back again. By then everything was simply arranged. Maybe that's what I inherited from mom, the capacity to simply keep going. After all, that's what she did too. Ze always knew how to make any situation work, as decisive as she was, and she was very decisive, so was I. There was very little room for his input, his decisions, after this. Discussions were skipped over and it didn't take long until he definitely left. No more reflection but a real goodbye.

Some months later I was on my way to the hospital. Mom's red suitcase was my trusty companion, I could always rely on the suitcase being there. Even though it was just a suitcase, it gave me stability, I knew where I stood, I had packed it on my own after all. Next to my own clothes, it also contained her clothes. Going to the hospital alone, being admitted on my own, giving birth alone. I missed mom so much there, there was nobody to even hold my hand, noone I could talk to to explain what I was going through. Obviously you're in a hospital and they'll explain it all, but in the end I was the one walking out alone. So that's how we left, just the two of us. I remembered mom and what her and I would do together. The kind of fun we had and how the both of us would try to get the best out of living. Because that's the way mom was and that's the way I am.

After the first year went along I got increasingly the courage and confidence in how things were going. I got used to going through life with just the two of us. I thought back at the good times mom and I had. The pleasant moments came back. The things mom and I did together and we repeated those. We went on the same holidays. We took the same trips. It wouldn't take long before this little girl next to me saw the same adventures as I had when that suitcase appeared. As she got increasingly more enthusiastic, I noticed that I struggled more holding on to that enthusiasm. I was living mom's life all over again, but it wasn't my own. It didn't take long until those frustrations also got the best of me.

Frustrations that accompany me now here standing in the rain. Frustrations over what I'm trying to hold on to, frustrations over having to bring her here now. As tough as I'm standing here next to her and doing my best to stay enthusiastic, it's for the better that we're standing in the rain, this way she won't see my tears and she won't see my hanger. This girl looks like me in so many ways. She carries the same naivety as I had back in the day. The world is beautiful and sweet and kind and pleasant. Our life is normal and no less than a large adventure.

Now that I'm going through this, I see what mom must have felt too. She was also frustrated on how she had to stand alone, though she had grandpa and grandma helping her out. They went along with her stubbornness. They did challenge her, kept asking her the question, is this what you really want? Mom was convinced with herself that she was right. I on the other hand only have doubts. This is not how I had imagined my future. I regret my own stubbornness of just going on on my own.

The front door opens and there he stands, the father. He greets her enthusiastically, screaming with excitement she enters the house. Enthusiasm as only a child can express it. Then there's a moment of silence as he sees the suitcase, he looks at me, his vision frozen. I give him the suitcase, he grabs it, clearly thinking about what this means. "Ooh, you got to take mom's red suitcase along with you, that's something special!" There she stands, full of pride, "Yeah, mom says than now this can become an adventure." He knows all too well what this suitcase means to me. He knows this has been quite a discussion and than ultimately I couldn't have said "no."

He leaves the door open and looks at me, he nor I know what to do. All the while it keeps raining. By now my daughter is long gone inside. The pain on my face must have been screaming. He keeps doubting, "Do you, …" Before he manages to finish a sentence I exclaim, "No, I should be going home." The door stays open, he looks at her and then at me. By now it's starting to rain inside, he looks at me again, just to make sure. Then the door closes and I stand there. Alone in the rain, I don't know what I'm waiting for.

Somehow I can't manage to leave. I can't manage to leave her behind. The only thing I can manage is to cry harder. Thoughts keep racing through my mind on how I got here. By staying stubborn, by just trying to solve everything on my own. By rejecting him, by now giving him time. It started so well, but I insisted on doing things at my pace. After we got to live here, his first compromise, we had a good time together. The more I stand here, the more doubts race through me.

Mom raised me her way, I always thought of that as the only way to be raised. I lost her too soon and I could never ask her, also not how here on this rainy afternoon with no courage to go on, not knowing what to do, how to move on. Like now there are other moments where I could have chosen something else but I didn't. I don't have regrets, not at all, but maybe now is the time to do something else. Do I want this future for my child, her father and I? Do I want to live separated? Do I want to follow mom's path or my own? The rain is running through all my clothes.

I'm soaking wet and I make a decision. I ring the doorbell again. This time now for my daughter but for all of us. This time it only takes a moment. He opens the door and doesn't say a word. A silence falls. I collect my courage and before I get to say anything, he says, "please just come inside, I'll grab a towel for you." I sign and with a nervous laugh, "please, but I want to talk about the whole situation we have here. I'm stubborn and bullheaded and you know how much it's taking me even admitting this." A moment of silence falls again and her replies, "we're always connected and we'll both have to choose how we deal with that, let's talk about how we'll do this together." For a moment I clenched my jaw and felt something building but as quickly as it came it also left. "Yes together." I smile and step inside.