So I left work early last week. I rushed home to be there in time for when my middle schooler got off the bus. I know she doesn’t like to be home alone. While catching my breath and eagerly waiting to hear how the first day went, I got a text from her: “mom can I hang out @ char’s house?”
This is from the daughter that I affectionately call “Velcro.” You know, as in sticks to your side. Like when you want to sleep past sunrise on Saturday morning and she jumps on the bed and yells “Wanna play?” Or you’re in the bathroom and she follows you in and asks “Whatcha doin?”‘ She now vacillates between being my little girl in pink and a social butterfly who I hear whispering to her friends about boys. Does this mean you are no longer my snuggle buddy? When did you need a bra?!
Then there’s my older daughter whom I shall call “Body Ruiner.” I used to have an amazing, flat stomach. Now it’s just…mush. I had a brief moment with her when she was eleven and we went together to see Divergent. I thought: “How cool is this? I now have a movie buddy to go see all the shows my husband doesn’t want to see.”
I couldn’t wait for the next installment to come out. On premier night she asked me to go see it. These days it’s rare that she comes out of her room, much less speaks to me. So I ran upstairs to get changed. A few minutes later she came into the bedroom and asked me why I getting dressed up. When I looked confused, she clarified: “I’m going with my friends. I just want a ride.” Oh.
Parenting is cruel. You give up your whole life to raise them. Then they leave you. What am I supposed to do with myself now? And why do they think I am so stupid? I do have two advanced degrees, two licenses, and a certification that all say I am an expert on teenagers. People pay me a lot of their hard-earned money for my advice on parenting. I’ve worked with kids for ten years before you all were even born. And if I have no fashion sense why are several pairs of my shoes and shirts in your closet? Why do you keep taking my makeup if I look so bad?
I have couple of years before they leave for college. Body Ruiner threatened to leave for the other coast and never come back. Why? Everybody else likes me.
On college drop off day, will I sit in your old room in your room and cry? Or think about listing the house and go island hopping? She’s already told me she’s not having kids. Oh yes you are. After over a year your colicky crying for hours at a time you are not going to deprive me of the Parents Curse. You know the one where all parents tell their kids: I hope your kids turn out Just Like You.
There is heartbreak and happiness at every stage. It’s a process of letting go. The new mom who drops her infant off at day care and cries more than the baby does. The parent who puts their kindergartener on the bus for the first time. The hand that is now longer held while walking to third grade. Or not even being allowed to leave the house while you make your way to middle school. Don’t even get me started about high school.
Right now I’m finishing a healthy dinner that you will tell me is gross. You would rather have Chipotle. Then I’m going to pick you up from practice, come home, and then turn around and to go back to the same school just so you can shower before the game.
Where are my keys and wallet? At this stage I’m just a chauffeur and ATM. I wonder: what’s next?