I hum along with the CD as I contentedly prepare the salad for dinner. The chicken cutlets sizzle in the frying pan, their enticing smell wafting through the house. I have prepared dinner early today in anticipation of a busy evening of after-school extracurricular activities and the endless number of carpool runs ahead of me.

"Mommy, Mommy, I don't understand what I'm supposed to do for homework," calls my seven-year-old daughter from the dining room where she is poring over her grammar homework.

"Can you please ask Sarah to help you?" I call back, "You know my Hebrew is not so good."

The chair scrapes as she pushes it away from the table. The sound of her footsteps pitter-patters down the hall.

A black, boiling anger rises from the pit of my stomachI hear the muffled volley of voices. I can't make out the words but I can just imagine them as I hear their escalation. First, the high pitched, tiny voice of my little girl; her pleading tone rings out clearly. Then the staccato angry bursts of my teenaged daughter's refusal.

I grip the spatula in my hand furiously. A black, boiling anger rises from the pit of my stomach, its burning lava frothing over the edge. Why is it so hard for her to be gracious and give, I fume. No, I stop myself. I promised I will be as positive as I can and remember that she has been captured by this alien hormonal force for a few years.

Last week, I was asked to gather some pictures of various members of the family, including grandparents and great-grandparents, to be included in an ad for a new Jewish genealogy web site. I pulled out the many photo albums from the bottom shelf behind the door in the guest room, untouched and forgotten for many years, like the memories they contain. I picked up a large stiff-backed album, its blue cover coated with dust. Quickly wiping away the dust, I cracked open its cover. I touched the glossy, transparent plastic sheeting carefully preserving my beautiful pictures and began to browse through the pages.

A smile escaped and my heart leaped as the recollections captured in those pictures assailed my senses and danced before my mind's eye. Like the year we decided to dress our five children up as the five Books of the Torah for Purim. The kids gathered around the kitchen table and we gave them fabric paint to decorate their pillow cases. Or the numerous pictures capturing the birthday parties we held. Oh, the animated discussions we would have prior to the parties deciding what kind of cake to make and how we would decorate it.

My eyes lingered on a picture of my now teenage daughter at the age of six. Posing for the camera, she proudly displayed the buttered toast she was in the midst of eating. Leaning forward towards the camera, she playfully stuck out her tongue, daring us to scold her for her impertinence. The delicate and slightly unruly curls of her shoulder length silky chestnut hair framed her smiling face. Her laughing brown eyes shone brightly.

Once when she was much younger than she is now, she read an article in a family-oriented magazine about the field of play therapy.

"That's what I want to be when I grow up," she exclaimed definitively.

"Really?" I inquired, "Why?"

I miss the smell of her baby soft skin when she would sit on my lap"What better job could you have than to be able to help a child out of pain by playing with them?" Her goodness and empathy for those who are suffering defined her. Her exuberant nature and celebration of life was infectious.

I miss the smell of her baby soft skin when she, being the youngest at the time, would sit on my lap flanked by her siblings on either side during bedtime story hour. Her skin smelled sweet, like challah fresh out of the oven. I miss feeling her heat as she snuggled close to me when she'd crawl into bed with me on lazy, cold Sunday mornings and the little chubby arms that would encircle my neck. I miss her enthusiastic retelling of the stories she brought home from the teachers she adored.

Where has my little girl gone, I wonder? Only a glimmer of that former self seems to lie before this new, defiant face that now glares back at me all too often. Her love of life is camouflaged by a sullen silence as she retreats into her room, and into herself. I remind myself to hang onto the memories of her sweetness, her willingness to give and share, the ever-bright glow of her intelligent and inquisitive eyes mirroring her delight with the world.

I am determined to fortify myself with those precious memories as together we ride the turbulent waves of the storm called "the teenage years." I am determined to be stronger than this foe vying to come between me and my beloved child.

The complexity of mother-daughter relationships is inescapable. My own mother is still my blanket of protection and acceptance, though I am now a mother myself. I walk into her home and I am immediately enveloped by her presence. She was always my greatest advocate and admirer – even when awarding me with a deserved tongue lashing.

Yet, I remember my pain and confusion when I began to view my mother through my maturing teenage eyes. I recall the raw tension and frustration growing between us as we grappled our way through this new stage in life. "How was your day?' she would inquire brightly as I walked through the door, and then would periodically punctuate my sharing with distracted "uh-hu's."

I learned to appreciate the two minute daily check-in phone callsThe exterior of my vision of my loving mother as "perfect" cracked, the jagged pieces of its shell fell away. In its place stood a woman with limitations, a woman who also made mistakes.

It took years for my teenage eyes to adjust and accept the new tenuous terms of our relationship. I learned to acknowledge and appreciate the two minute daily check-in phone calls, or, as I like to call them now – check-ups, as gestures of reaching out. I learned to anticipate and value my mom's quick visits to drop off a treat she had picked up in the grocery store, as expressions of her warm embrace.

I now stand in the place of my mother and I know that my feelings were her feelings and my daughter's feelings were my feelings. I only hope that at the end of the journey my daughter and I are on, she, too, will come to terms with my fallibility and accept my unconditional love for her the way my mother loves me, the way only a mother can love a child.

Today I resisted making that snide, accusatory remark, just as my mother resisted. Yes, there is hope for the future of this relationship. Thank you, Mother – my teacher, my advisor, my example.