In a little over a week, I will have two teenage daughters. Something about the younger one turning 13 feels very strange, and slightly scary. So does the fact that she rolls her eyes at me now, and I can tell when she's disappointed by the way I say or do something. Until not all that long ago, she was just openly adoring of me. Oh, well.
But it is, it's a strange new world with these young women. I feel them moving away from me. I write about this all the time because I think about it all the time. It's a sea change, and it's one that's supposed to happen, and it's been happening, and there's nothing to do but let it happen. But there's pain that comes with it.
I'm getting better at feeling negative things and just letting them be. I'm starting to see that we never just arrive a place where everything is great and happy and good and just right. Those things exist along the way, they happen every day, but along with them comes bad and worse and fucking awful, and it's all interwoven, and we just need to move through it as gracefully as we can.
It's good, or "good," or the way things are supposed to happen, or maybe not "supposed to" but simply how they do, that children get older and they start to have more of a sense of themselves in the world, and the outside world and the people in it (their friends) become more important, and their focus turns to that. They still need and love us but they want us to be their touchstone, not the center of their universe. They are currently the center of their own universe; that's what adolescence is, and this is how we grow, how we become adults.
I can remember being a teenage girl. I don't remember thinking all that much about my mother's state of mind, about her emotional life. We have a different, more distant relationship than I do with my girls, and I always felt she couldn't handle my emotions; that created a wall between us that doesn't exist in my house. But I see my daughters seeing me differently, seeing my faults and my missteps in a way they didn't used to. It's not that they judge me harshly; they are just aware of me in a different way. And that's also okay, the way it's supposed to be. But I'm wistful, too.
Those days when they hung off my neck or my arms, when all they wanted to do was be touching me. There were moments I relished but plenty more when I just wanted my space, my own body back. We still have our moments of cuddling and our walks hand-in-hand, but it's usually me who reaches out. Now I sometimes feel a stab of completely selfish pain when they'd rather hang out with their friends than with me. That's not to say they don't also sometimes text me things like "Mama, I'll spend all day with you tomorrow!" when they can tell I'm sad. Then I text back, "No worries, have fun," because I'm not trying to emotionally exhort them. (Am I?)
It's not so many years until they will be gone. I think about that a lot. Instead I should think about the fact that they are here, and how lucky am I that the care and raising of them was granted to me.
It's just strange, it's weird, being a mother, being a woman, being a human. Moving through these different seasons governed by different moods and emotions and priorities and definitions of what's good, what's right, what's supposed to be. And trying to match that with how each season makes us feel, and not feel guilty about that, about any of it, but just let it be how it will be.