My mother doesn’t read this blog. If she did, I have a feeling she’d be doing a little gloating right now. She might even throw in an “I always told you you’d have one just like you some day.”
In fact, when I told her last week during our weekly Sunday call that it had been a rough week with Dancer Girl, she said, “Sounds like she’s right on schedule.” Comforting, no?
And, ironically, I rarely fought with my mother when I was a teenager. This isn’t revisionist history, and I haven’t just forgotten. Because I remember, very clearly, the fights with my father–the parent whom I’m most like. The reader should interpret that statement to mean that I’m stubborn with a need to always be right. And have I mentioned before that Dancer Girl is just like me?
At one point during our ongoing discussions about attitude and grades this weekend, Adventure Guy turned to me and asked, “Do you promise that you were really like this? And can you please tell her this is not going to turn out well if she keeps it up?” What shocks me the most, since even though I’ve been a parent for fourteen years now I still don’t feel like I’m, you know, old like my parents were, is how emotionally draining this whole parenting a teen thing is. Because, of course, I was convinced as a teen that my parents didn’t care at all about how I felt. Parenting a toddler was physically exhausting, but this is a whole new realm.
And then this morning dawned with the sounds of Gym Girl and Dancer Girl giggling in the kitchen, having decided to make waffles and bacon for breakfast. When she stopped by my room on her way to the bus, I could hear the Dancer Girl of old in her voice as she called, “Bye, Mom. I love you!”
The good moods continued through the evening. Adventure Guy is out of town for work tonight, so I picked everyone up from their various activities and took them out to dinner. We joked and laughed, talked about plans for our upcoming vacation and about what the kids were looking forward to this summer at camp.
The joking continued on the drive home, Soccer Boy mimicking his sisters, everyone being a little silly. And then, I made a joke that wasn’t funny. At least not to Dancer Girl. It hearkened back to one of our initial disagreements two weekends ago. And, honestly, it is funny, or it should be funny. But It. Was. Not. The mood shifted; the curtain dropped. The happy girl was gone, replaced by the sullen teen we’ve seen too often lately.
And I felt terrible because I should have known better, shouldn’t have crossed that line. I immediately apologized, but it didn’t help much. She bolted upstairs as soon as we got home. I gave her a few minutes and then went up to tell her I really was sorry and that I wouldn’t joke about that incident any more.
Later, she came into my room to talk about her schedule for the week, a small gesture that showed she really wanted to reach out but didn’t know exactly how. So I asked for a hug and told her how proud I am of her, how I know she’s working to turn things around.
And what I couldn’t tell her, what I know she’s not really ready to hear or understand, is how much she still carries my heart with her, even as she struggles to break away a bit. As she sets out to become the person she’s destined to become. A person truly separate from her mother.
And, my best hope for her at the end of it all is that one day she has a daughter just like her.