Friday, March 3, 2017

I Have A Teenage Daughter

"When Lucy was 4 or 5, we asked her what she wanted to try," I recalled. "Do you want to try soccer or tennis or dance? What do you want to do?," I told everyone I had probably read in a parenting magazine that it was good to empower the children and give them a voice in what activities they did. "Lucy looked right at me and she said dreamily, 'I want to learn to ride unicorns.' I was like whaaaaat?" We all laughed and laughed.

I told that story while we ate cake and celebrated Lucy turning 13. The other night we sat around the table as a family and each told a story, or two, about Lucy. It's a tradition we started on Peyton's 13th birthday. We needed a family ritual to honor the children becoming teenagers and storytelling seemed like a good one. 

Peyton told the story about Lucy saying she wanted to be "a cop" at preschool graduation. Wade and JT told stories about hanging out and playing with Lucy. Tim and I told stories about Lucy's independence and imagination and how she has always read at all the boys' games and her standing up for herself on the playground and making us laugh and more.

This is a timeline that Lucy made of her life in first grade circa 2010. She had to pick a few moments that impacted her life. She picked "helping get the president elected" in 2008. I have loved having her with me canvassing, at the rallies and protests and meetings over the years. I am glad it impacts her. I love watching her form her own opinions and beliefs about the world as she gets older.

I have a teenage daughter. That sounds weird. I feel like I just was a teenage daughter. 

My teenage daughterhood actually haunts me a bit.  It wasn't great. It was terrible actually. This is a story I didn't share the other night but it shaped who I am as a person and a mother. When I was 12 I started my period and my parents got divorced. When I was 13 I started acting out and my mother started having a mental breakdown. She and I both started drinking and smoking around then too. Three turbulent years later, both my parents lived in different states and I was living with another family trying to figure out how to grow up. It was a lot of life for both my mother and me.

Now that I have a teenage daughter of my own, I have mixed feelings. I can't imagine going through a divorce and a mental breakdown while having ego-centric/hormonal/emotional teenagers. My heart breaks for my mom and I understand her better. I understand a little more why she drank and self-medicated, not knowing the powerful and horrific genetic disposition for addiction she possessed. 

But I'm also terrified. I don't know how to have a teenage daughter.

"You are not mom," my sister texted me a couple months ago. It's a reminder I need a lot. I know I'm not. I mean I have a great marriage and a stable life. I'm not an addict. I'm not my mom. And Lucy isn't me.

Sitting at the table the other night listening to all the stories about Lucy and watching her smile and feel loved, made me so happy. Lucy is smart and kind and sensible. She loves to read. A lot. She is witty. She is quietly very brave and has very high standards. She knows she is loved. 

As we manage our way through these next few years, I will work on not taking things personally (holy shit this is so hard for me! Waaaa!) and not always expecting the worst things to happen. I will have faith in the foundation of love and stability that Tim and I  have worked so hard to build and provide our family. 

I am not my mother and Lucy is not me. Sure she'll make mistakes and so will I. But we are forging a new path of motherhood and daughterhood. Not my past, but our future. 

This is right after we gave each other makeovers (I went a little heavy on the makeup! lol) and we tried to do serious poses. Which made us laugh and laugh because we looked like some cheap poster for a creepy low-budget Lifetime movie about a tired mom and a rebellious teen. LOL.

Based on what I've read in parenting books and seen on TV and movies, it's going to be a bumpy ride but we'll get to the other side. And yes, I secretly hope we'll be best friends on the other side and tell each other everything, but trying not to put too many expectations or pressure on that. Lol.

So, hello 13. Hello having a teenage daughter. Here we goooooooo!

She's the Rory to my Lorelei. She is serious and sensible and witty. I am more immature at times than she is. 

She's got the teenage selfie/pout face/duck lip thing down.

She's a good big sister most of the time.

She and Tim are very close. She has a great father.

I love her so much.


  1. You are an amazing mom for your teenage daughter! Such an inspiring story! Thanks for helping me to believe that being a mother of a teen may be lots of fun and joy! You look more like sisters or friends! The best mother-daughter relationships I've ever seen or read about! Great job!