Single Mom Boot Camp—Life With a Teen Daughter
It All Began With a Mother's Curse
I can clearly hear my mother yelling up the stairs, "I hope one day you have a daughter just like you!"
With those words, the curse was thrown out to the universe, where it would wait until the most opportune time. A curse shouted out by mothers around the globe. Then, from out of the blue, Mother Nature cupped the curse in her hand and with a gentle breath blew in my direction. For the first ten years, things were beautiful. Amazing even. Just myself and this angelic, big doe-eyed, dirty blonde. Helpful, cheerful, polite. I scoffed at the curse. Mother Nature missed.
Word of warning to those of you who have not yet had children, or may have had children who happen to be young enough where you would question the curse yourself. Don't question it, trust me on this.
Oh, it was little things in the beginning - a different tone when answering, sleeping in later on the mornings we were at home - things I once again disregarded. She would help with the chores and housework, always happy to be treated a bit more grown up than some of her friends. Nothing major of course, at that time in our lives she considered any extra chores or a big one to be something to be proud of. "Momma trusts me to do this on my own."
And so, that's how we lived our lives, this peaceful serenity enveloping our home. The cats, that's right, no, there was no peaceful serenity in our home, we were controlled by the cats. Max, Smokey, and CoCo Chanel. They ruled the house. It wasn't my home any longer, I was permitted to room with the cats. Interestingly enough, I loved those cats, still do, and two of them are still with us. I skip over that time period a bit too easily, and I should have seen it coming, you know, the cats run amok, why wouldn't the kid think she could as well?
Schoolwork came easy for my daughter, ahead in her classes, bright, with a stellar education awaiting her arrival. (Would either of us live long enough to see it?) It was when social media came into her life that I noticed a defined change. Oh, she was still polite, and people would always tell me how lucky I was to have such a well-behaved "tween." Yes, we hadn't hit the teen years yet.
Change Is in the Air
One sunny, October afternoon, I could probably tell you the actual date if I thought about it, I found myself curled up on the sofa with a book and a glass of wine. The front door swings open and my daughter quickly makes her way down the hall to her room.
Wait. It's not cold outside, and I think I just saw my kid wearing a hat. Now, we aren't talking about a snap-back, but rather, a beanie. On an above average temperature day here in the San Francisco Bay Area. That's not right. Hold up, Sister.
I followed her path back to her bedroom, (how does the rest of my house look so clean, and this room look like it might be an offshoot of the county dump?) Anyway, I digress...yes, she's wearing a beanie and every bit of her hair is pulled up and tucked under it. I have to ask...why?
Her response being a classic response, "all of my friends are wearing them." I nod in agreement, yes, yes they are. Except she isn't all of her friends and she has never worn one before. Even when traveling to the mountains for a snow day.
Remember, my mother cursed me, I've already played this game once and this time, I have the upper hand. So, I ask. What is wrong with your hair? Those big eyes looked up at me and I watched the confusion race through her mind. Might as well tell me now and let's get this over with. Slowly she moved the hat from her head. Where once had been a dirty blonde bordering on brown, was now bleached white with the underside bright red.
Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out. Repeating the mantra I remained silent. It was in both of our best interest for me not to say anything at the moment. Returning to the living room, I emptied the liquid contents from the glass sitting on the coffee table. Out of nowhere, I hear for the first time my newly teenage daughter yell at me, "I knew you'd hate it." Well, I didn't love it, didn't even like it, but, it was only hair. It wasn't something permanent, and she was the one who would have to wear it everywhere. The problem was, she absolutely loved it.
It was like that for a long time, she finally got tired of it and asked if I could take her to the salon to get it covered with a color closer to her own. You know, since most people aren't born with flame red and white hair. We survived that crisis and a valuable lesson was learned. If she wanted to do something with her hair, we should have it done professionally to keep from destroying her hair. I don't think Jami was a licensed colorist. The second lesson was more for myself. Keep more wine on hand at all times.
Spreading Her Wings to Fly On Her Own
In the two, almost three years since the first hair color "surprise," we've seen blue hair, pink hair, green hair, and somewhat of a mix. We've had music (I think that's what it is, but I refuse to sound like my mother,) too loud and had to be turned down, we've had eye rolls where I swear her eyes would pop out of her head, and we've had door slams so hard I broke my own rule and sounded totally like my mother. "I'm going to take the damn door off the hinges the next time you slam it!"
I wouldn't. Remember the county dump reference from earlier? Yeah, it's still the same. I've learned to pick my battles. That's her space and if she wants to deal with it, that's all on her. Keep the door closed where I don't have to see it.
Single motherhood is tough, in a sense it is its own form of boot camp. You put yourself through the paces and replacing the drill sergeant you have a mini version of yourself. In my case, not so mini, she towers over me by more than six inches. Still the same. There's always wine to help you out.
I really can't complain, I've got it pretty lucky. At 15, we have our differences and we deal with those. It's refreshing to have a teen willing to talk with you about anything, who tells you what's going on in their social lives, where they are going, who they are with, what they plan on doing.
Growing up today seems much more difficult than I remember, With all the social media readily available, they have to remember anything they say or do, can and will show up somewhere in public. They are at a point in their lives where it will affect their chances of getting into that sought after university or that job they longed for.
We can teach them right from wrong, we can instill in them values and morals, we can talk to them about the dangers of life as well as the rewards. In the end, we have to know that we've done what we can do and allow them to grow, to expand their horizons beyond what we ever thought capable. They will fly, and yes, they will falter, but they will know they have us as parents to help them out when needed.
Up next for us and this crazy beautiful journey of ours - driver's ed. They don't make enough wine for this part of the adventure.
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© 2017 Sherrie Weynand