Mothering wasn't Lillian's strong suit. She tried her best, but her best tended to involve late nights at the office dealing with emergencies instead of ballet recitals and skipping dentist appointments to deal with threats to national security.
Whenever guilt intruded on her careful compartmentalization, she told herself that at least she'd been smart enough to marry a man who could and would make time for concerts and plays and sports games (and who wouldn't sit there the whole time wondering what he was missing at the office, straying so dangerously far from the nearest phone). Rebecca had a closely involved parent and a role model for professional success; how many children could say that?
She and Mark fought about it sometimes. These fights usually started after Rebecca had either gone crying to her father about her mother's absence, or done particularly well in a prominent role in some event or another. Mark would insist that it wasn't about national security at all; that Lillian's absences were due to was pride and ambition and a driving, futile need to finally impress her father. Lillian would retort that he had no idea what she did and what kind of dangers she saw on a daily basis, and wasn't in any position to judge just how important her work was. This usually led to discussions of secrecy and lack of sharing and a litany of recurring complaints.
Those arguments rarely ended well.
Nonetheless, Lillian did try her best for her daughter. She stayed up late sewing costumes for school plays and got up at four in the morning to bake cookies for bake sales. She'd leaves the costume on a chair in Rebecca's room, kissing her sleeping daughter before she headed into the office. The cookies would be neatly wrapped on the kitchen counter, with a note wishing Rebecca well at the bake sale. She knew Mark and Rebecca didn't think it was enough, but it was the best she could do.
Lillian had never blamed her father for his absences, for having to do science fair projects by herself and countless dinners with just herself and her mother. Or later just herself. It probably said something, though, that she'd stayed with her father when her parents separated, while Rebecca went with Mark. Lillian was her father's daughter; Rebecca belonged to Mark. Maybe Rebecca would have belonged to Mark even if Lillian had done something else entirely.
At least she knew enough not to lie about how things would one day be different. This was who she was. She'd learned long ago from her father that that was the one thing you couldn't fight.
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