I watched my daughter navigate no less that three Rites of Passage in the space of six weeks: Confirmation, Middle School Graduation, and her first plane ride out of state without me. She wasn't even kind of worried about her first day of high school; it was me that was a bundle of nerves.
We are now on that last stretch of childhood: the journey of the teen as she makes her final approach towards adulthood.
My daughter, who I jokingly refer to as The Teenager in all my social media posts, has surprised me in all the best ways one can, especially a Mother that has told her repeatedly that "I do not like surprises":
- She has pursued, and succeeded, at a goal she set when she first saw the movie "Bring It On" back in elementary school: After realizing that she wasn't really feeling the cheer squad, she tried out for, and made, the drill team at her high school within the first month of being there.
-Realizing that she would need to keep her grades up not only to graduate, but also to remain on the Drill Team, she went back on her medication for ADHD, completely reversed the slide in her grades, and is back to being the primarily A and B student she was in elementary school.
-Most important to me, though, is she has acknowledged our hereditary issues with depression and anxiety, up to and including her own, and is committed to working those issues out in such a way that she won't have larger issues dealing with them later.
She fascinates me sometimes, this daughter of mine. As frustrating as these years can be, and believe me, between ADHD, depression and anxiety, combined with all of the other teenage hormonal stuff, the parts I don't talk about are going to give me gray hair before this is all over and done with, I sincerely pray and believe that we may both make it through these next four years mostly unscathed and hopefully in one piece.
I can see the beginnings of a person who pursues her interests passionately, and will stick to things that she actually wants to do until she sees them through. The key words in that sentence are the SHE WANTS to do. I am learning that at this age, picking one's battles as a parent become paramount in keeping that trust relationship strong, as well as LISTENING twice as much as I talk. And while I might be losing some respect with other parents for not embracing an Authoritarian parenting style at all times (I keep it in my back pocket to be whipped out on an As-Needed basis), what I hope to see is a young lady who learned to stand up for herself, even to authority figures, respectfully, and in appropriate situations (see note above about learning to pick one's battles).
We have both come so far, and still have so far to go...
These next few years will feature change and growth on both our parts; she, preparing herself for further education and eventually, a career; me readying to be the parent of two adults, the coming empty nest, and firming up my retirement plans.
Mostly, though, I will be watching her: how she grows, what she knows, emotions she shows, her ebb and flow. Trying to be there when she needs me, and learning when to pull back and let her go on her own. Reading her like the absorbing novel she both currently is, and is slowly becoming, carefully turning each page because as exciting as all of this is,
I both do, and do not, want to reach the end to the journey.