Pretty much from age three on, parenting seems to truck along smoothly. There are behavior hiccups, but the biggies (sleep, potty training, walking etc.) have been covered. When Caroline was an infant, I read child development books religiously. By three, it seemed like we had it down. I switched over to craft magzines and kicked back and enjoyed my kid. Things weren't perfect, but it wasn't anything that I couldn't handle (Rob keeps reminding me of this with Miss Lily). Then the next phase hit: teenager!
There seems to be countless magazines, books, shows, and advice about infants-toddlers. Teens? Not so much. Last month I was looking through Catherin Newman's blog Ben and Birdy. She recommended the special teen edition of Brain Child Magazine. I ordered it and it was brilliant!!!!! I feel like I found dozens of new best friends who had seen right in to my house. It was mostly full of essays chronicling different aspects of parenting teenagers.
I get asked by friends and acquaintances "What's it like having a teenager?" Honestly, I am pretty lucky. Caroline is sweet and a bit of a homebody. She is so very bright (however don't tell her that, she seems to be allergic to profuse praise) and motivated (in her own narrow focus of film, literature, and music). She is unbelievably witty and such a smart ass (I should reprimand her more often, but I am too busy trying not to laugh). After a very rough patch last year, we have reached a common ground. There are still times when she drives me crazy (could the same drive to know every independent music artist be channeled towards dishes? laundry? spending time with her sister?).
One of the most poignant essays was about letting go. That's where I am now. Most of my major adult stages passed without a hiccup. Thirty? No big deal, I was born thirty, it was just a coming of age. 40 didn't really bother me either. However, I can already tell that Caroline going off to college is going to hit me hard. Ever since she got to tour VCU, she is determined to go there. She worked her butt off this year to get good enough grades (which she did and then some). I know that leaving her at school is going to break my heart. If we do our jobs as parents well, they are ready to leave and be successful. Rob and I have given parenting our all, so it stands to reason that both girls will leave and soar. This summer feels so bitter sweet and is flying by. Three years will pass in a blink.