Tag Archives: teens

DEAR HIGH SCHOOL

Dear High School,

She was literally JUST born. I swear. We were so excited. After many miscarriages and the realization that I may not have a child she came along. And our entire world changed. Our. Entire. World. You can tell people what its going to be like. To be a parent. But you have no idea. You have absolutely no damn idea until you are one. I spent many years in the beginning worried something would happen to her and I would lose her. I’d lost so many pregnancies pretty late term I just couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that she was mine. Alive and well and healthy and happy and mine. For now. I’ve slowly let go of that worry over the years. I will always worry. Every parent does. But she was here for 15 years in this house, under our rules, under our guidance and mostly influenced by us. OK…let’s be honest…she’s MY child so she’s pretty much had a mind of her own since birth. And for that- I am grateful.

And now High School you get her. You get to have her 8 hours a day. With your soda machines and snack bars and fancy lounge areas and tech center and career counselors and college planning team and boys with mustaches and muscles and football players and boys driving cars and parties and decisions I cannot help her make and your lockers in big hallways and advanced classes and teachers who do not know she suffers from Hypothyroidism and Hashimotos. Who do not know she is always in pain. Who do not know she worries about her Dad and her grades and Cheerleading and college and me. You get her but you don’t know her like I do. I carried her. I wiped her nose and her butt. I drove her to doctor appointments and spread eagled across her toddler body to hold her down while they stuck needles and immunizations in her leg while she screamed and it took every ounce of my body not to punch the doctor square in the face.

I stayed up many long, LONG nights with no sleep and vomit and accidents and nightmares and worry. Many cartoons at 2 in the morning to get through fevers. Many tears from torn stuffed animals by the dog. You were not there High School- but I was. And now you get her.

I swear we just brought her home from the hospital. Clueless. I swear we just dropped her off at Kindergarten and I cried through the door window watching her with Mrs. Hartman and crying with the other Kinder Moms. I swear we just moved to Colorado and I shook & cried as I dropped her at a new Middle School and hoped and prayed she’d make at least one friend. And now I hand her to you.

And she asked if she could ride to school with friends her first day of school tomorrow. And my heart stopped and my voice cracked as I said “sure”. And so it goes. And so she goes. Through doors, big doors. Big doors that she will never turn back from again. I know what you do High School. You make kids grow up. You make kids spend more time with friends than family. You make kids go to parties and make sometimes bad decisions and maybe bury sign posts in the practice football field out back…oh wait…that was MY HIGH SCHOOL.

But I also know you make kids independent. You introduce them to friends that will last a lifetime. You get kids involved in Cheerleading & other activities where she will find her best friends. You teach her way more than there is in a textbook. About sharing and empathy and unfairness and reality. You are the first place she drives to. You are the place she spends most of her time. You are the place that will help her decide where to go to college and what to do with her life. Tomorrow my baby starts High School. Tomorrow that little girl in her velcro Keds and green lacy back to school dress will wear a CHEER UNIFORM TO HIGH SCHOOL. I hand her to you and hope that all we’ve taught her STICKS. That at that party that night….and there will be one….she will make the RIGHT decision. That on those tests she’ll do her best. That she’ll kick every boys ass she can. Take care of her High School. She’s a good one!

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DRIVE

After several miscarriages and tests and pain- physically and mentally- I was further into a pregnancy than I’d ever been. It was New Years Eve 1999 going into 2000. And the least of my worries was Y2K. I’d lost so many pregnancies (some very late in my term) that I was constantly anxious and paranoid about losing another. Although they had found the source of my “issues” and I was on blood thinners and things seemed to be going ok….I just couldn’t wrap my head around an actual baby. I wasn’t sure it was in my destiny. In our destiny.

But on July 6, 2000 after 26 hours of labor and pitocin (evil shit) she arrived. Seven pounds, 6 ounces of jet black hair and cute, healthy baby! Patrick was so nervous he counted her fingers and toes and kept miscounting thinking she had 11 fingers. Two days later as the nurse wheeled me to the parking lot and Patrick pulled the car up to the curb he and I stood there and stared at the nurse. She kind of looked at us, checked the car seat and waited. We picked up the baby and asked”so do we just leave with it now?”.

So clueless. As most new parents are. So totally and utterly and absolutely clueless.

And now her 5 foot 3 inches self is sitting on my couch almost 15 years later registering for her pre-drivers license classes online. In Colorado you have to have 30 hours of instruction before even getting your permit. And since she wants it ON HER BIRTHDAY- which is Monday, she has to get busy.

And unlike any other milestone in my children’s lives this has me spent. When she learned to talk it was TO ME. When she learned to walk it was TO ME. When she started Kindergarten she came home every day TO ME. I know. I KNOW. With all of my heart and soul and memory of my 15th birthday what this means. When she gets her driver’s license it will be because she will drive AWAY. FROM ME. I’ve cried a few times this week about it. I don’t understand where the time went. It went so crazy fast. And I know what this represents. Its the beginning of her leaving. She will no longer need me to drive her to practice, to go shopping, to her friend’s houses. All of those millions of moments in the car that we talked. REALLY TALKED.

Who will she talk to now? Did I say all I needed to say in 15 years? Did I explain all she needs to know? Did I teach her about life? Did I convey how much I love her. Shit. If I’d have known the time in the car was going to go so quickly I might have talked more. I might have shared more. Or better yet- I might have LISTENED more.

The truth is I didn’t obey every traffic law. I didn’t drive perfectly. I drove out past curfew. I did stupid things STUPID things. I had alcohol in my car and boys and holy crap. How do you tell a kid NOT to do the very things you did? And the truth is you CANT. She knows right from wrong. She knows. But now the choices will lie squarely on her shoulders and I wont be there. Patrick wont be there…to catch her, save her or re direct her.

More than any other thing they’ve ever done this driving thing is a real eye-opener. Because I know what it means to be 15. To be 16. I know how you think. And I also know once you walk out that door, and get in that Red 1987 Chevy Z24 you don’t come back. You just don’t. My Dad took off work the morning of my 16th birthday and took me to the DMV in Lewisville, Texas to get my drivers license. That afternoon, when I drove away for the first tim on my own…I finally now know how he felt. How my Mom felt. He was a mere 35 years old that day. As clueless as I am at 42. About this whole parenting thing. We do they best we can. They did the best they could. We protect and teach, and inform and then we have to let go and trust. I trust her. She’s a good kid. A very good kid. But Im not one of those naive parents that thinks their kids do nothing wrong. After all, I was once 16.

So for this type A, control freak of a Mom this is a big thing. A HUGE thing. And Im scared and Im nervous and Im worried and Im going to slap a GPS tracking deice on her car and lock her phone in her trunk and weld the back doors shut and any other shit we can think to do to protect her. Until we can’t. Until we just have to let go. Watching your kids grow is this beautifully, symmetrical act of simultaneous joy, fear, sadness, pride and love.

The song I listened to most while pregnant with her was “I HOPE YOU DANCE” by Lee Ann Womack. It says a lot about hoping your child embraces all that life will show her. And I hope she does. I hope she finds the beauty in a solo drive through the mountains, in a convertible on a pretty day, in music blaring from the car radio, in the freedom of being able to leave when you want to. And I hope once in a blue moon she drives back home…TO ME!

“Children Get Older and I’m getting older too…”
~Stevie Nicks, Landslide

BROKEN HEARTS and FIFTEEN

In 2008 Taylor Swift released her second album, “Fearless”. My daughter was 8 years old and already a HUGE Taylor fan. So was I. Maddie & I have never missed a Taylor Swift concert tour. Im ok to admit I love her. I love each album she makes more than the previous. I am a music lover and from Eminem to James Taylor to Boston to Taylor Swift I love all music. There was a song on that album that Maddie and I talked about. It’s called “Fifteen”. If you are a Mom, of a girl, you know it.

I remember at the time having the talk with her about sex and boys and love and decisions and high school. She’s always been very mature and she asked a lot of questions about the song. And about the decisions I made at 15. I’ve pretty much told my kids everything. We’ve always talked openly about sex and drugs and decisions and the things I did in the past. I was far from perfect. Still am. And I don’t expect or want my kids to be. And I don’t have the most conventional beliefs like some parents. I’m not the parent that says “NO SEX UNTIL MARRIAGE”. I’m not the parent who says “YOU’D BETTER NEVER EVER DO DRUGS”. I’m not the parent that thinks her kid will never take a sip of alcohol or go to a party or try to smoke a cigarette or make some seriously stupid decisions. Im just not.

And that may not be the way Im “SUPPOSED” to do it but I don’t care. I stopped caring what other parents thought a long time ago. I have good kids. And a real idea of what life is and throws at you. Perhaps brain rot and autoimmune diseases and my Dad’s early death jaded me….or maybe it made me face reality and know that not all people are blessed with a “charmed life” full of no loss and no hurt and no bad stuff. My kids are too smart and too in tune to what is happening to think life is perfect all of the time. Its just not an option for us. So we are REAL. It’s funny…when she asked if I ever did anything I regretted I could think of a few small things I did to hurt other people’s feelings…that makes me sad. I wish I could take back every time I did not take the high road. I wish I could go back and be nicer. But I have absolutely NO regrets about anything I’ve ever done. EVER. I am who I am because of those experiences.

And now she will be 15 years old in 6 weeks. Holy Shit! When I listened to the song I don’t think I thought of her being 15 one day. I don’t think I pictured HER in that scenario. And when It becomes a reality you freak out and don’t want your own kid to get hurt. So we talk about broken hearts. Because really…that’s what the song is about. It’s funny you’d think at 42 you would have escaped the whole “broken heart” thing. But you don’t. My heart breaks when my kids get hurt. My heart breaks when I watch brain rot progressing. My heart breaks for friends who are going through horrible things. And my heart breaks when friends hurt me…or turn out not to be the friend I thought they were.

So when she asks if getting older prevents heart break I have to be honest and say “no”. I was thinking about the real shape of the human heart in comparison to the sweet symbol we use for the heart in everyday life. When drawn on paper its a pretty, symmetrical, solid, flawless form of what looks like two opposite angel wings merging. Its easy to draw for Valentine’s Day and its easy to color in smoothly with a red crayon. The human heart….quite different. Many chambers and arteries and blood and pumping and moving and beating and detailed and intricate and not smooth and not perfect. And sometimes it breaks.

I wish I could paint her heart with symmetry and no flaws and complete. But the thing is…if you get to the end of your life and your heart looks seamless and pretty and solid and unbroken…you can bet you saved yourself a LOT of pain and sadness and tears. And you can bet you never felt love. And THAT is sad. I’ll take the cracks and holes and tattered up taped together heart I have at 42 over a perfect heart any day. It means I’ve lived. It means I’ve loved.

I hope she opens hers. Because as much as I’ll want to stop it—the pain and heart breaks and tears and joy and happiness and butterflies are all a part of life. And isn’t that beautiful.

“TAKE A DEEP BREATH AS YOU WALK THROUGH THE DOORS IT’S THE MORNING OF YOUR VERY FIRST DAY…..”
~Taylor Swift “Fifteen”

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