Having a teenage girl befuddles me. Though millions of women have confronted this conundrum before me, I feel like no amount of wisdom shared will take the sting out of it. Part of the difficulty is the hormones, sure. Tantrums, power-struggles, indpendence-seeking, boundary-testing behavior, but part of it is the bittersweet sense of loss. I do embrace and respect and admire the woman she's becoming, and support her completely, but...gosh I miss that little Pook! The one that thought I was the greatest thing in the world, the one that couldn't stop touching my arm, the one that threw imaginary kisses at me from the window every time I left the house. The one that dressed up like Hermione Granger from Harry Potter for Halloween.
The befuddlement comes when I see her in photos like this. Where she's frozen in time, her non-stop movement and talking and eating and growling and primping in the bathroom are all....halted. And I see her standing there, so tall and beautiful, smiling, happy with her friends, all dressed up as a gypsy and ready to go out and have fun. I think dazedly, "Wow". And then the worry starts...where are they really going? Who are they going to be with? Is there alcohol? Is someone driving? Why oh why does she have to wear her skirt so short?
And I have to let go. Though we drive her to her friend's house, after that it's anybody's guess where they really are and who they are really with. Her skirt will fly up any number of times and I can't do anything about it. Sure she's in touch by text, but she could say anything and I'll have to believe it. I don't have a tracker device on her phone or anything. (hey, now that's an idea!) And I feel a wierd sense of worry and confusion and fear about doing the "right" thing. Plus I'm exhausted (from 16 1/2 years of parenting (24 years if you count 8 years parenting my step son), but with all that I also feel a new sense of...could it be...freedom? Of the liberation that is just around the corner for both of us? It's a strange combination of emotion, and not all that pleasant. But. I can only smile, take the photo, and drop them off with a wave, biting back the cautionary words I want to say.
"Have fun!" I manage to eek out.
The gypsies run off into the night. I go home to distract myself with netflix. Will it be easier when she moves out and goes to college? I'm guessing it will be. But there it is again...that bittersweet feeling of loss. I'm almost certain that all of the grannies and mamas that came before me would shrug their shoulders and hand me a glass of wine. Maybe there is something in that old wisdom after all.