Friday, November 06, 2015

It's Friday

Just a few hours old

It's Friday night. Really, it's almost Saturday.

I spent tonight just chatting and hanging out with a friend while her daughter and my daughter and 5 other girls celebrated my daughter turning 16.

My oldest daughter is 16.

She turned 16 last week.

She got a driver's license last weekend.

She's a great kid. No, really, she's a great kid.

And all of her friends that I've had the pleasure of meeting are pretty great too.

I keep hearing about how kids today are this and kids today are that. And the this and that? It's almost never good things. Teens today are apparently rude, have no respect, don't care about others, are selfish, expect to get good grades without doing any work, don't want to give back, whine, complain, expect everything to just be handed to them, they don't want to work hard, and will apparently be the undoing of the human race.

I don't get it.

I mean, sure, my kids aren't perfect. Their friends aren't perfect.

Together just a few years ago
Sometimes they have bad days. Sometimes my daughter wants to argue with me. Sometimes she doesn't always do what she's supposed to. Sometimes she fights with her siblings. Sometimes she sighs when we tell her to do some chores.

But those sometimes? They aren't even close to the majority of times.

Also. Sometimes. I am the same way.

I am human. So is my daughter.

But do you know what she is most of the time?

Mostly she is helpful. Mostly she comes home and gets her schoolwork done without me saying to. Mostly she does her chores willingly. Mostly she is kind. Mostly she gets really good grades. Mostly she works hard. Mostly when she has a bad moment, she apologizes to me later.

Mostly she is growing into a wonderful young woman.

Always I am proud to be her mother.
Always I love her.
Always I think she's pretty darn fabulous.
Always she has my whole heart.

As does her sister. As does her brother.

I see many of the same traits in her friends. I see it when they hang out. I see it when they talk to each other. I see it when they talk to me.

Before Halloween, the high school opened it's doors and many of it's classrooms for local kids to come trick-or-treat. I mostly saw a bunch of high school students reaching out to kids younger than them to scare them, entertain them, give them candy, tell them they liked their costumes, play games with them, and just be pretty awesome people.

Is everyone perfect all the time? Nope.

But when I look around - at people and children of all ages - I mostly see most people doing the best they can most of the time.

I'll take it. I'll enjoy it. I'll remember that when I have to cross paths with people who maybe aren't shining bright in that moment.

I'll also remember that when I parent my kids. My kids are pretty awesome.

Sure, they have their moments. We all do.

But they are pretty fantastic. And I'm so glad I get to be their mother.

Even when I worry as my 16 year old drives herself to guitar class. By herself. Without us in the car.
Even when she's hanging out with her friends. At their house. Where I can not see her.
Even when she comes home worrying she did poorly on a test. But figures out how to move forward for the next one.
Even when she gets annoyed with me and sighs and talks back. But she comes back later to apologize.
Even when I feel sad about her growing up. But am also really happy as well. And proud. And love watching her grow.

Our relationship has changed so much in the last few years. As it should. As it's supposed to.

She doesn't need me to hold her hand anymore.
Or pick out her clothes.
Or do her laundry.
Or to kiss her owie when she falls down.
Or to pick her up so she can see.
Or teach her to tie her shoes.
Or teach her to sing simple nursery rhymes.
Or read her the stories she loves so much but can't quite read herself.

She still needs me though.
Just in a different way.
And in a few years, she'll need me in a different way still.

She is learning to be independent. She is ready to be independent before I am ready to let go.

I tell her this. I tell her to be patient with me. I'll get there too, it just takes a bit longer.

I know she needs to do this. She needs to grow. And stretch. And learn.

She needs to push boundaries to learn when it's okay to push them and when it's not.

She needs to know we trust her to make decisions, but also she can come to us when she needs some input.

Some day. Some day soon. She will be an adult.

It's my job, along with the husband, to get her there. To get her ready for it. To teach her to trust herself. To teach her to do what's right, even when it's hard. To teach her to get back up after she falls down. To teach her to sincerely apologize when she is wrong. To teach her to love others and let them love her.

Some of it we've been working on her whole life. Some of it is new to her. Some of it's new to me too. I've never parented a 16 year old. We are entering this territory for the first time together.

It's the blessing and the curse of being the oldest. She gets to do it all for the first time. The bumps we go over, the pitfalls we face, will be navigated differently for her siblings. Though, they will be sure to find their own bumps and their own pitfalls, it won't seem as scary. We will be more prepared to handle them. But with her, it's the first time. It's all new. It's a wonderful, new, scary, worrisome path we will take.

But tonight, as I watch her with her friends celebrating the milestone of turning 16, I am so incredibly proud. My worries are alleviated some. She's a pretty amazing person. She's got some great friends in her life.

I'm sad she's no longer my little girl. But not as sad as I thought I might be, when 16 years ago, I was holding this tiny little baby in my arms. Wondering if I could be a good mother to her. Wondering if she'd be a good kid. And panicking at the thought of this little, tiny, baby being in the world without me. How could that be?

Today, I see how it is. And how it will be.

It will be good.

She is good. I am good.

I am her mother and she is my daughter. Nothing can change that. How she needs me in her life will change. But I am always her mother. And she is always my daughter.

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