What sent me into the tail spin of feeling useless this spring? Well, most likely in was due in large part to two things. First, Adam Yauch ( MCA of The Beastie Boys) died. He was only 47 ,and that is too young. All of the sudden it hit me that my cultural icons (contemporary ones) could die due to natural causes and not their own stupidity or that of others (I'm talking about you River). Ask anyone my age how they feel about this and you'll get the same reply. He was a ground breaker and he walked the walk. He dies too young and it wasn't fair.
Second, I am the mother of a full blow teenager. I don't usually blog about Caroline anymore because I don't want to invade her privacy. I am "in her business too much." Before I continue, let me say that I have an amazing kid. She took any struggles that she had at the beginning of middle school and used them as fuel to end more successfully than I ever could have imagined. She earned the President's Award for Academic Achievement and she got inducted into the National Junior Honor Society. All of these ceremonies also fell around the same time as the final band concert and the eighth grade dance. For two weeks, the world revolved around Caroline and making her get dressed up, and she was not happy about it. Caroline is very introverted, unless she chooses to let you into her world. She does not like excess attention. Especially, when that attention includes her mother scheduling things, forcing her to get dressed up, and bragging about her. It was supposed to be an amazing happy time. She could be proud of her accomplishments. I could be proud that Rob and I created her. It was anything but.
Being the mother of a teenaged daughter is a very tricky road to walk. Most her fury is directed at me. It is not a time when you can easily seek out support from other mothers. First of all to tell anything about your child is to invade her privacy. Secondly, what you say will change her in others' eyes. We can be so forgiving of the emotions of a toddler, but all bets are off past age 8. At the time, I felt like I was a supporting player in the movie Mean Girls. In just a few words my child could take me from a responsible adult to a chubby 14 year old sporting pink tinted glasses, braces, and an ill advised Belinda Carlisle haircut. The friends who knew what was going on offered me tissues and suggested not to take it personally. They could not, however, explain how to do that. At one point she refused to talk to me, and I thought my heart would break. Seriously, I was just so happy for her. She had achieved everything that I had ever wanted at her age (including a sweet boyfriend). The thing is, it was hers to have and enjoy. I helped, but I wasn't needed (except to drive). Do you see why I might feel that all of my exciting things are over? That I have nothing to really look forward to? Everything that I can think of involves the girls and those moments are theirs, not mine. As they should be.
Ironically, the keynote speaker at the National Junior Honor Society addressed this. He told the kids to thank their parents, to let them share in this event. I held back tears. I posted a picture of Caroline on Facebook from that night. Her response to that picture? "I look pissed off." My response? "You were pissed off and don't say pissed off."
If you had told me that a month later we would be staying up late laughing at Friends or discussing how groundbreaking X-Files was, I would have called you crazy. She really isn't interested in rehashing what happened. Neither of my children like "talking things over." That kills me because in my family, we do nothing but. I did learn one thing though: I step back and let her go on her way. God it is is hard. Honestly, it tears me up. She'll be fine. I keep thinking about the commercial where the mother wants to follow the kid around all day. There is one shot of him playing Dodge Ball and she jumps in front of the ball and shouts "It's ok! Mommy's here, Mommy's here." Boy, do I understand her. However, I can't be her.
When I try to explain what is like to raise a teenager, my friends say "You are scaring the hell out of me!" I don't want to do that. I was never one to tell the pregnant woman who is ready to pop the scariest birth story I know. I don't want to scare anyone. I love being the mother of my teenager. I happen to really love spending time with her (most days). The best that I can do is trust my instincts and hers. It also helps to know when to just shut up and listen. Even if you are only listening to rock music.