Today my eldest “baby” turns 15. Fifteen? How did that happen? Anyone who is a mother knows the ups and downs of herding cats. . .erhm kids and parenting. I do not think every woman should mother. My sister does not have kids and JoAnne does not have children. They actually would be GREAT moms but they chose to be childless for their own very valid reasons. I am glad my daughters have all kinds of women role models so they can make educated, mature, balanced choices in their lives. I have never been a mom to teenagers before. I did not have good modeling when I was a child but so far so good. This year was tough as I felt that I did not “get” my kid as much as I used to. Fourteen year old brains learn to distrust adults, start forming their own opinions and are influenced by people other than parents (GASP! THE HORROR). Honestly, it is kind of daunting knowing ONLINE INFLUENCER FLAVOR OF THE DAY or some other jack hole will help mold your kiddo’s lifestyle (shudder). Thanks to COVID we were around each other a lot more and I started noticing things I had not seen before. So I thought we should have a Mother/Daughter day and we spent all day together. At first she loved the idea of getting to order what she wanted to eat and lie around binging anime on her iPad. Then I wanted to “talk”. She rolled her eyes so far back I had a flashback of The Exorcist. I took a deep breath and continued. What I learned was that I had lost touch of what was important to her. I was still parenting her the same way I had done before. You just can’t do that – THEY are not the same so how can YOU be the same? Then I made a huge parenting mistake (also can be a dating one – you’ll see what I mean). I asked “Do you love me?” WTF was I thinking? How can you put anyone on the spot like that. Hello? Earth to Mom! Of COURSE she did not answer. Even though the sane side of my brain was saying, breathe it’s okay – my heart cracked in two. That’s what I get. I tried to adult and not show my feelings and said all the right words like “Sorry about that – you don’t have to tell me anything if you don’t want to” and then we spent the next 3 hours in awkward silence diving into the blessed mess of the Internet and Netflix so we could be together and not together. Finally, hunger drove us to discuss our next meal and we settled on Asian takeout and then slept fitfully. As it turns out this was a GREAT experience for both of us. She spent the next 2 weeks telling me she loved me at every opportunity – poor kid – I told her that it was really okay. I spent the same block of time researching Psychology Today and emailing my therapist about how to be a better parent of a teenaged daughter. Now I feel the the imaginary people that had been hired to build the “wall” between us has taken a break and we are communicating more openly. Oh, don’t worry – I’m not in some delusion that we are buddies (which I never want to be) or that now she thinks I’m awesome (ha! what kid does?). What I DO feel is that I have learned to respect her privacy a bit more and I see her differently. So when she had friends over in the driveway last night for a social distanced fire pit gathering for her birthday, I stayed in the house only peeking out to make sure they were okay now and then. I have no idea what they talked about and that is fine by me. What I know is that they laughed A LOT. Five great kids were in my driveway eating pizza, making s’mores (all individual portions – I got each of them their own pizza so they did not cross contaminate so I was cool for a whole FIVE minutes – WOOT!) and talking about whatever they wanted to. Each kid got picked up after Four to Five HOURS and were all grinning. We had all missed socializing ‘LIVE’ and I got many requests to do it again even if there was no birthday. I definitely will make sure it happens. Happy birthday to an awesome teenager and happy BIRTHING day to me (pats herself on her shoulder).