I write about my teenager a lot. I can’t help it. She gives me a lot of material. I know I am still new in the teen parent club, but I kinda like it here. Sure, we have our moments that I would rather not broadcast. I’d be lying if I said it was easy. But I didn’t say that. I said I liked it. Most days. My kid is fun to be around, witty and smart. I think she’s fantastic, but what she did the other night had me running the gamut of my emotions. And she doesn’t even know it. Oblivious teen.
Like many teenagers my kid has a busy schedule. She’s got rehearsals and school meetings and sleepovers. The nights we are all home together are becoming less commonplace. I keep thinking that if I just didn’t let her follow her dreams that I could keep her home with me. But that probably isn’t the best way to earn the coveted Mother of the Year award. And I really do want that award. So I let her do what she loves which means she has to be in a million places all at the same time. And of course I am the chosen mode of transportation. I may as well paint Harvey yellow.
This is the third year she auditioned and made it into the All-City Choral festival and the 3rd year I have made sure she was in the right place at the right time for rehearsals. But this year was a little different because, well, she’s a teenager now. That means she was in the choir with other teenagers. Teenagers stay out later than people who are not teenagers. And their rehearsals start later. And even though she had been through this twice before, she was unsure of where to go and what to do. Things are different when you are a teenager.
I could feel the little girl I once knew emerge from my teenager’s body as we pulled up into the busy rain-drenched parking lot. And because I am a front runner for the Mother of the Year award I said, “Do you want me to walk you in or do you want to go in by yourself?” Giving your teenagers choices is always a good idea. Makes them feel like they are in control. Well, at least for things like this.
She hesitated, peered out the window and said, “Uh. I don’t know. I am not sure where I am supposed to go.”
I could tell she was teetering between teenager and one who is not a teenager. I seized the fleeting moment.
“I have no problems going in with you,” I told her. Holding your hand as we cross the street. Making you look both ways. I began singing in my head the song I made up for her when she was a baby and we’d rock and rock for hours. I was so thankful that she still needed me. I was just about to park the car when she changed the game.
“Oh, wait! There’s Lizzy! Nevermind. I can go in with her!” And like lightening she bolted out of the car and ran to meet her friend.
Like a little lost puppy I was left with nothing but an empty car and the lonely sound of my wiper blades skidding across my windshield. I was left. With barely so much as a good-bye. Left and replaced by one of her friends.
I sighed. And then I remembered the whole idea behind this whole Mother thing. Train her up so she can go. I get it. I get it.
I. Get. It!
But when something is as beautiful as your child it’s so hard to understand that you raise them just so they will leave. It’s hard to feel un-needed. Left.
On the drive home I tried to process what just happened. It seemed as though all of a sudden I had been replaced by her friends. She felt so far away already and she still has 4 1/2 years till college. But who’s counting? I felt like a taxi driver and nothing more.
When it came time to pick her up I had come to terms with my new role and tried to remember that her confidence is just the by-product of doing my job. So when she came to the car I was fully prepared for the typical answer to the question, “So, how’d it go?” But she surprised me when the first thing out of her mouth was something you can only tell your mother. I can’t breech her trust and tell you what she said because I’ve already cleared a spot on my shelf for my Mother of the Year trophy. But I can tell you that she wiped away all my doubts and my feelings of abandonment when she said;
“And that’s something I can only tell my mother.”
That’s me. Her one and only irreplaceable mother.