Just when you thought life was easy, your daughter hits adolescence.
You survived the boys. They were either great kids or great liars. They dealt with voice changes and scraggly mustaches without requiring anything of you.
So while they are both in the throes of their adolescence, their hormonal torment is so uneventful that you decide to have another - at age 38.
What could possibly be different this time? After all, you are so mature now, experienced, laid back; you know how to choose your battles. You let the unimportant things slide.
And so it goes for the early years. You don't need any books to guide you. You don't care if she sleeps in your bed -you know she won't be there forever. You don't care if she sleeps through a
meal - you know that if she is hungry she will wake up. You pick her up every time she cries -
.she won’t get spoiled, she’ll know you are there for her.
And it continues through the kindergarten and elementary school years. You guiltlessly throw out "artwork." You doubt it will be missed down the line. You develop a loving, supportive relationship with your daughter. You know that you will be best friends forever.
And then she turns 14.
And then life as you knew it is no more.
Everything you say results in an audible exhale.
Everything you do results in a door slamming.
Everything you suggest results in a silent tirade.
Everything you require of her results in the end of all hope for peace on earth and it is all your fault.
You implore her to tell you what is bothering her, but “nothing” is the answer, except when it is, “I told you already… nothing.”
For lack of all other ideas, you give her space. You watch her from afar, admiring her graceful movements as you remember your own awkward adolescence. And yet, as it turns out, you are still invading her personal space – defined in the world of 14 year olds to include ear shot and field of vision.
You practice different tones of voice to accompany “How was school?” hoping not to upset the cosmos. And with every “FINE” you are pushed out of her life a little farther.
So you choose to wait out the next few years like a labor pain, not because you want to, but because you have no choice. You choose to be patient for you know that as much as the pain of delivery is yours, it’s probably no picnic to make the trip down the birth canal, either
.all in all, you know it is harder on her than it is on you.
You know deep down that this whole experience is not a personal affront; after all, didn’t you do the same to your mother?
So you look for perspective. You recall that when your boys finished high school you said to yourself, “no broken bones, only a few chipped teeth, no drugs or alcohol. Count yourself lucky. Amen.”
And now that you are a grownup mother this time around you should have it all together for the rocky journey ahead. But you don’t. You take it all so personally; maybe because it is a girl, maybe because you are forced to remember your own struggle.
You put your plans to be the cool mom on a back burner as you shake yourself one more time and remind yourself that it is not about you.
You remind yourself that she needs to find her way on her own. And you rest assured that, despite the monosyllabic responses and the silent tantrums, she knows if she stumbles you will rush in to pick her up.