High school is a frustrating season to walk through as a child. I don’t think it even compares to how hard it is to travel through as a parent. From the first day of school, I have watched my oldest child grasp her independence and hold on to it for all it’s worth. Daily, her father declares that he is gaining more and more gray hair. There is much we want to tell her. Much we want her to know and understand. More we want to control. And the harder we push, the higher she constructs her walls. So, I did what every courageous mom does. I drug out our mother daughter notebook from mother daughter camp several years ago and wrote her a letter that I have prayed will reach her, even through the wall constructed of teenage drama and hairspray. Lots and lots of hairspray.
My motive is not to preach. I simply want to say the words that she needs to hear as she starts to move through the complicated world of real choices and real consequences. And did I mention the boy? Oh my stars. It starts all too soon.
I want my daughter to experience her teenage years selfishly. Yes, you heard that right. I want her to independently discover her hopes and dreams and pursue them with everything she has. I want her to learn how to love herself before she has to figure out how to love another. I want her to experience life with her friends, try new things and construct her plans for the future.
I want her to understand that abstinence from sex is about more than a religious decision to stay pure. It is about the ability to try a relationship without huge emotional entanglements. It is an intentional decision she has to make now. I want her to understand that when she commits to a solid decision, she will be less likely to allow her emotions to change her mind when the opportunity arises. And it will.
I want her to understand that her friends have an influence over her life, just as her behavior & choices influence over their lives. I make jokes about the boy, but the truth is that he is someone else’s beloved son. He has parents that love him as much as I love her. I don’t take that lightly. And when her friends come over, you can bet I am in their business, too. I want our home to be a safe place for my kids and their friends. A place where they can come for fun, and guidance, if needed.
I want her to understand that she will make mistakes and when she does, her dad & I will be here to help her sort them out. We are a phone call away, no matter what. I want her to understand that nothing she can do will change our love for her.
I want her to understand that when we act like circus freak parents, our actions are stemming from fear. Fear is rooted in a very deep love. A very deep longing that wants only the best for her.
Maybe a letter was the easy way out. But soon, after she read it, I felt the walls come down a bit. My daughter emerged from the fog of body spray and once more started to share. I don’t pretend to have a handle on the teen years. They are awkward and scary. My goal for now is to control my inner circus freak response and create a safe zone. One that fosters conversation in the mundane that will hopefully bridge the gap for the big deal issues that are sure to come.
I am raising my mini me, after all.