As the day of my daughter’s high school graduation comes and goes, I am called to think about the memories. Not the finger painting or the overpriced seven-year-old birthday parties where they gave us a room and an endless supply of bubble blowing.
No, I am remembering the good, the bad and the messy of the teenage years.
What comes to mind first, is the sound of our sliding glass door opening and closing at all hours of the day and night. We were never sure who was going to walk through but they were mostly familiar faces – teens who graced our couches and beds for many, many nights. Some, sneaking out before the early morning and many more rising, with mascara smeared eyes and last night’s clothes, well after noon.
I remember learning the hard way how my daughter and her friends avoided drama. It was one Friday night, not long after the sliding door opened and closed a bunch of times. My daughter and her friends had gathered in the family room. I slid casually onto the couch, hoping to catch a glimpse into their life. Suddenly, I interjected, “She did that? What? No way?” at the wrong time. They all smiled politely, cocked their heads, but I knew what they were thinking. “Drama is so last year, Mom” or “Mom, we were talking about what we wanted on our pizza.”
I fondly recall the endless chip bags and half eaten food containers left on my daughter’s floor and dresser. Especially the many times that the dog got into the snacks and graciously vomited all over the house. Because it turns out, Doritos and Sour Patch Kids was apparently not a good combination with her grain free, limited ingredient designer dog food.
How about those yearly class pictures? It seems with each year, we sent less to relatives and received more wallet size pictures. What is it about throwing out your child’s picture that is so hard? Having a box or two of awkward, posed old school photos, that seemed to go up in price every year for every child, seems – well, what is the point? Maybe I will have a garage sale, and sell them? Or perhaps EBay? No, that’s creepy. I guess I will keep them, next to the wrapping paper I always forget I have.
And sports. Endless weekends spent driving, sweating or freezing on the sidelines and cheering, always cheering. Funny, whether they won or lost seemed so important at the time. Now, I can barely remember the name of her soccer club.
Glorious snow days where we made a mess of the kitchen, ate raw cookie dough and binge watched Hart of Dixie or Gilmore Girls. (If you haven’t seen either one, you haven’t lived).
The lost phones, cracked screen protectors, data overuse emails because she had to stream movies, and the Wi-Fi in the bedroom was just not working. Really? We have 4 televisions in the house!
With tears in my eyes, I reminisce about the half-filled water filled alcohol bottles I found tucked away in the basement. We had decided to finish the job. Dump them, then fill them all the way with water and leave them on the kitchen island for when our daughter and her friends came home that night. We left the note, “We got you a gift.” And we waited in the other room for the whispering and texting pings.
With a sigh, I recall those mornings that I would cheerily speak to my daughter, in the kitchen, or on the way to school and I would receive back angry stares, or the utter of, “I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON, MOM! PLEASE STOP TALKING TO ME.” The endless alarm snoozes for over an hour, then rushing out the door and a text I would receive an hour later:
“Mom, can you close my door? I left some food in my room. And also, can you drop off my permission slip for the prom. Oh, and mom, can you also bring lunch, I didn’t have any time this morning to make it!”
All those firsts – first boyfriend, first friend break up, first time driving alone, first stress related tear filled breakdown, first college acceptance, and rejection.
The teen bedroom. The closed door hiding the mess. When she leaves for college, I am afraid what will be lurking on her floor, in the corners and beneath the bed. For every time she cleaned her room, within seconds, it somehow looked like a tornado ripped through it or at best, a category five hurricane. Why does she have so many clothes, but nothing to wear?
Finally, there is that look. The one that cuts you right in the heart. When you catch each other’s eye, and you both think at the same time, “When did you get so old?” You want to stop time because you know how much you love being a parent, no matter what.
Surviving the teen years is not easy for parents or teens. I think we should all be given a certificate along with their diploma. It would say: You did it. You had no way to study in advance, and passed with flying colors. Because sometimes just making it through is the most important thing.