Today is feeling like a long day. It is cool and damp and foggy outside. It is one of those days where the chilly dampness gets into your bones. It is moving slowly, if I listen carefully I can hear the clock ticking out the minutes. Instead I turn up the music hoping it might speed things up a little. I do not want to be here today. It is my daughter’s 15th birthday and I would rather be at home getting things ready. I would prefer to be cleaning up, decorating her cake, putting up balloons and streamers, just making sure everything is as it should be. But this year it seems I have no control over anything. I have ordered her gifts and so far nothing has arrived. I feel panicky “BUT HER BIRTHDAY IS TODAY!” I tell myself – It’s OK though, she is a good kid and she knows already what she is getting (for the most part), and she is happy. Yet I want things to be perfect.
I am struggling with this birthday a little. When my 2 eldest kids turned 15 it didn’t faze me, but this time around I feel it. I was 15 when my mom was diagnosed with cancer – the day after my birthday actually, and I am grasping how young 15 really is, I am wondering how her world would be if it was her receiving the news that she is destined to be an orphan. Funny thing is out of my 4 kids she is the one I have the hardest time connecting with, I always thought she was the least like me. (I am starting to rethink this.) She is so independent and outgoing and people oriented. I wonder if she sees herself the way I see her. She is beautiful, and smart and amazing. I cherish her, and should tell her more often how special and important she is to me. We seem to butt heads a lot, she is very stubborn and iron willed. Not bad character traits if one learns to use them correctly. They can actually carry you far in life. I wonder if she knows that?
I can’t imagine being told that I would be leaving her, that I would be lucky to have 6 months to instill wisdom and advice and guidance. How that must have ripped my mother’s heart out. I want to hold my daughter tight and never let her go. But I know that can’t be. I know that she would never accept that, she is far too independent; she has been since she was just a wee thing. 15 is such a difficult time, it’s when you are becoming the person you will be, but you aren’t there yet. When you are treated like both an adult and a child. When responsibility is piled on, yet all the restrictions of being a kid still exist. It is a frustrating, confusing, conflicted age.
I think I need to be gentler; I need to do what I can to keep the doors of communication as open as possible. I need to guide her in the right direction, not tell her what to do. (Although there are times when that too is appropriate.) She is now at the age where I have to loosen the reigns. (But how? I don’t want to – *sigh* – parenting is such a hard job.) She needs to be trusted to make good decisions. The next 3 or 4 years are the testing ground for when she goes off on her own. I do not want her heading out at 18 or 19 completely green with no idea what the real world is all about. (I started my family at that age!) But I am afraid I may not be ready to face this. I worry she is not ready to face this. So I will do my best to just be here, to help her, guide her, protect her every step of the way.
“Hey kiddo I sure love you and the amazing person you are growing up to be, Happy Birthday!”