When I started this blog, one of the topics I intended to write about was parenting a teenager. But that’s turned out to be nearly impossible, since I want to respect her privacy. I did one blog post back in January about an ill-fated escapade of hers, and somehow she found out about it and was furious. Rightly so. I removed the post.
But I do want to say – if I can do so without embarrassing her – how I have been spending more and more time feeling sad about her leaving the nest. She still has one more year of high school, so it’s not imminent. But the signs are all around.
When she attended her school’s graduation in June, we were all thinking that next year it would be her turn. As I organize a weeklong camp for her soccer team later this month, I’m aware that this is the last summer it will happen.
I look out the living room window at the horde of five-, six- and seven-year-olds playing catch and riding bikes on our street and I feel nostalgic. I think about the things I assumed we’d do someday – like renting an RV and driving to national parks – and realize that the window has closed. At least for doing those things with her as a kid.
I feel like I’m in a mild state of advanced mourning. I’ll probably stay in this state for the next year. No matter how close we’ll be as adults, we’ll never be as intimate as we have been for the past 17 years – living under the same roof, eating the same meals, cuddling when she was little, driving her around now that she’s big but still unlicensed. I wish I could turn back the clock to ages four to eleven, probably my favorite time period as a parent
And yet this week, when she left town for six days, it was such a relief to have her go.
We’d entered into one of those ruts where we were both driving each other crazy. I felt like she was constantly sullen. She probably felt like I was constantly nagging.
Mom: Want lunch? Come on down. We’ve got great leftovers.
Daughter (entering kitchen): What is there?
Mom: I made turkey curry. There’s leftover prosciutto. Leftover sliced turkey. I got some little salads at the market. Fresh melon and blueberries. Lots of great stuff.
Daughter (opens refrigerator, peers in, makes face, goes to cabinet and pours bowl of cereal, goes upstairs with it silently).
One thing that drives me crazy is preparing food and then having it rejected, or eaten grudgingly. Fortunately Sam is always appreciative – we would have divorced long ago if he weren’t.
So I’m delighted this week to be cooking exactly what Sam and I like, without worrying about the taste buds of the younger generation. (Catfish! Lamb! Arugula!) I’m delighted to have the house to myself during the day. I’m relieved not to be nagging anybody, and feeling their anger at being nagged, and then getting angry at their anger, and so on…
Weird. I’m crushed that she’s going to be leaving us next year. And I’m delighted that she’s gone right now.
The parenting books talk about how teenagers have a conflicted push-pull going on – wanting to break away and be independent, yet at the same time not wanting to leave the nest.
I think I’m experiencing the parental version of that teenage push and pull.