I was at a 2nd birthday party, pushing back and fourth my pram while trying to secretly sip a wine in the corner. The birthday girls Aunty came over to me and we made small talk about little Sofia, as her eyes fluttered closed.
“Yes!” I said, a little too excitedly.
“Wait till she’s bigger, you think you’ve got problems now… it gets worse” she said…
I chugged my wine while I listened to her talk about her 13 year old daughter. She told me how she waits till the last minute to do her homework, how she’s wrecking her beautiful face putting make up on… even though she tells her not to. She doesn’t listen to her, she just shrugs her shoulders and doesn’t respond.
Lady, this was me 17 years ago (or there abouts). I was like your daughter. I felt empathy for her… trying to fit in, not feeling worthy so I had to cover my face with foundation you needed a chisel to get off. I was competing with beautiful girls, and I certainly didn’t feel beautiful. Homework was boring… shit I’m studying and sometimes it still is boring… I didn’t care about the consequences then. I was trying to understand what was happening to my body and stuck between no longer being a kid and pushed into being a woman.
I listened to her talk and then I looked at her eyes, I expected to see anger like the anger and disappointment I put on my parents face when I started to go through puberty and ran away from home, but instead, I saw a kind of sadness.
It surprised me. She was sad, she looked tired and she looked stressed.
I poured her a wine and ask if she was okay, and she mumbled something about being tired and then went to help with the party.
Weeks went on and I thought about our conversation occasionally… I was wondering what could I do to connect them? I’m always thinking about this stuff and where I’ll take my social work/psych studies… anyway….
I messaged a friend telling her I had a bad day, so she facedtimed me, we talked shit and I talked about motherhood… she is a mother to teenagers so she is very wise. she said, you think you’re worried now, wait until they’re older.
There it was again.
She said, right now it’s awesome because you can control them… they’re dependent on you. Wait until they’re older and they just do whatever they want, and you don’t see them for three days.
She said, “bigger kids, bigger problems”
She explained it hurts because she wants to hold on tight, but can’t because the tighter she holds the more they want to run. They’re independent but still reckless and it’s so hard finding the balance between guiding them in life and supporting and encouraging them as a young adult.
She said, as a friend you want to tell them things, but on the other hand you don’t want to hurt their feelings in regards to the opposite sex. As an adult women you had your experiences that have made you wiser. But, no matter how much you try to tell them they can and will only have to learn it for themselves.
In your head, you’re thinking you don’t want them to miss out on things, parties, events, weekends away – you’re stuck between that place of not wanting them to miss out because you did, but knowing the dangers and what happened on some of those adventures… and in your heart? Your heart says no, no keep them home where they’re safe. You can sleep soundly knowing everyone is in their beds safe, just like when they were little.
She said, every time they go out and they’re excited, you get a little excited because you see their excitement, but on the other hand you really just want to make a karate chop bubble around them and keep them home.
Just like the mum at the birthday… she wants her daughters to know she’s beautiful without all the make up, and wants her to have the self confidence now… and to explain dating at 13 doesn’t mean shit… and just to worry about school… I mean I get it now, but at 13 I didn’t. I really thought I was going to marry the boy from the train. (What was his name again?)
When my son is upset, he comes to me to cry and I make it better, but in 13 years he might hold it all in and I’ll be the last person he goes to, he won’t be dealing with a bruised knee, he might be dealing with a bruised heart, school grades, fitting in, finding himself. He might not want to communicate with me anymore. He might sit in his room for hours and won’t want to be clinging to me like velcro, instead he might be clinging to a game console. Makes me teary ? ( rest assured though, I’ll be back to whinging about them in my next blogs.)
At 13, you’re worrying about how they’re going at school, because this is the decider of their future (says the high school drop out lol). But at 3 you were there to catch them before they fall, now they have to fall and get up on their own… (hopefully metaphorically and you don’t have a clumsy 13 year old, like I was)
And just like I can’t now, they can’t see pass now and can’t help but worry – will this impact the future? I worry about my daughter crying now for longer than 15 seconds as that might scar her psychologically for life, imagine at 13?? ?
I understand why she had that sadness in her eyes, amongst it all, her little girl was growing up… and that can be a bitter pill to swallow.
People say it all the time, they’re only little once, but it didn’t sink in until that moment. They have so much growing up to do, and so many more things to go through… so I guess I have to squeeze the shit out of them now while I still can.
And realise that, in 13 years. I’m fucked.