Being a Passenger on Your Child’s Bumper Car Ride to Adulthood

teen on bumper car

flickr.com/jeremygordon

I knew that it was time to do the web search but I wasn’t quite ready. As I forced myself to type in the name of my chosen airline and begin the flight search, it hit me that I would not be able to book our two tickets together.  My ticket would be for a quick turn-around, and my daughter’s would be for a much more extended stay. I would take her back. Back to college, her home away from home, where she taught me how to say goodbye and where she plans to reside for the next three years, at least. This August, I will fly there with her and once again, help her move into her room, squeeze her with everything I am, say a prayer, and return to live my life at home, a little emptier and yet a little fuller, while she renters her college life.

But we are not there yet. I am with her now. Soph blew in (my daughter doesn’t just arrive, the wind actually picks up when she enters a room due to her passion-filled, larger than life energy) at the end of April before most of her friends were home. I had her almost to myself. While the rest of my kids were finishing their school year, we had the chance to reconnect. She decompressed. She slept. We ate her favorite foods. We talked. I learned about the small details of her life at school that she couldn’t share via text or phone calls. I cherished the opportunities to read her facial expressions and body language as she revealed snippets of new, exciting experiences she had, mistakes she made and questions she was pondering.

And I listened. And I withheld judgment and advice…until I couldn’t. And the MOTHER brain took over and I found myself advising, “teaching,” probably with a tinge of judgment. And then she would pull back. Retreat. Protect her secrets that one does not share with her MOTHER. And I gave her space. Stopped looking for every “teachable moment,” and let her be.

And then she would come back around. Slowly allowing me to see her again—in her full, teen/adult light—to know her thoughts, her insights, her feelings, her vulnerabilities and her fears. And I would listen. And bite the hell out of my lip.

And this is the new language we speak. A mother who craves closeness to a young woman who needs her mom close and yet needs her space all in the same breath; a daughter who is on a bumper car ride toward adulthood, on which there is occasionally room for her mother to sit next to her, and yet, more frequently, needing and wanting to occupy the front seat all by herself. And I am off to the side (most likely biting my lip again), trusting that she’s got what it takes to navigate her car without me, and yet always prepared to jump in if the bumps get too intense.

Push me away—pull me close. Hold her tight—let her go. But never completely.

I book two tickets—our outbounds the same, but my return for two days after our arrival and her return for two months later, when my youngest son will celebrate his Bar Mitzvah.

More growing up.  More letting go. I am finally starting to fully grasp the true beauty of this cycle, and am trying to enjoy the ride. Bumps and all.

 

 

Comments

  1. You’ve captured the summer after freshman year of college perfectly, Julie. It is so hard to step back and just listen, and listen some more, when you have so much to say and know you shouldn’t. We all slip. But sometimes we are actually perceived as helpful and those are moments to savor. Good luck navigating the rest of your summer.

    • Anne, Yes, I do need to remember to savor those moments when she actually seems to appreciate my advise or insight! Thank you for that reminder and for your thoughtful comment.

  2. Katie @ Pick Any Two says:

    My son is still quite young, but I enjoyed reading this for the reminder that we moms will always struggle to balance the “teachable moments” with the “let it be” moments. So glad you had some special time with your daughter.

  3. Julie, I am going to need to so much help not “teaching.” I’m serious. I feel like half of the time I’m starting a sentence with, “See, you guys, this is why blah blah blah.” (That’s probably what they’re hearing!) This was such a great way to capture the pulling in and letting go. Beautifully described.

    • Thanks, Nina. The lip biting is hard but it does help keep the lines of communication open sometimes. Otherwise, I noticed that my teens would just shut down or tune me out if I was/am always “teaching.” They want less and less of that, and really just want to be heard.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss's 4-Hour Workweek and Lifestyle Design Blog

REVISIONS OF GRANDEUR

life's a draft

writing at the table

writer & mother, feeding my dream and my family

bradstrong

Finding A Silver Lining Every Day

K.M. O'Sullivan

writer ~ blogger ~ unapologetic feminist mother

Shannon Day's Martinis & Motherhood

A site for martini-sipping moms...

Mommy, For Real

A candid glimpse at the imperfect reality of surviving the daily grind with kids.

The Hip Grandmother

There's a hip grandparent in all of us!

Watch Nonnie Write!

"It's gonna be a long, long journey, but I'm ready..."

The Waiting

Turns out, it's not the hardest part.

Mummy Kindness

Parenting. Honestly.

unscriptedmom

The unrehearsed, spontaneous, impromptu act of motherhood.

Nina Badzin's Blog

Writing, Reading, Parenting & More

A Happy Mess

Finding joy even if it kills me

Parenting And Stuff

Not a "how to be a great parent" blog

Sweet Child of Mine

How I lost my son to Guns 'N Roses

%d bloggers like this: