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Sweet 16

A couple weeks ago something terrible happened to my daughter. Brace yourself. Take a moment if you need.

I don’t know how else to say it besides just coming right out with it: It was a Friday night and my teenage daughter had no plans.

It was tragic.

She had no other alternative but to hang out with her lame parents on the couch and watch the dumb movie they rented from Red Box.

She was in a dark place mentally so in anticipation of the evening she asked if she could take a quick drive around the neighborhood in the golf cart to clear her head. We agreed it was a good idea. We had to help get her through this however we could.

She was gone for all of 5 minutes when my husband’s phone rang. He sprung from the couch yelling into the phone, “Where are you? Are you okay? I’m on my way!” He ran out the front door shouting, “She wrecked, but she’s ok!”

Before I could get past our front porch she was already home, being delivered to me by her dad with a blanket around her shoulders. Crying hysterically.

After I tended to her bumps and bruises, checked her pupils, looked for broken bones…all the normal mom checklist stuff…I asked her what happened.

She told me she was driving down the street when she saw the headlights of an approaching car. She did what any clear minded person would do. She turned off the headlights from the golf cart. Duh. After they passed, she turned her headlights back on at the exact moment that she plowed into a truck parked on the side of the road.

“Why would you turn off your lights?” I asked in the calmest most chilled tone of voice I could muster.

“Because it was embarrassing for anyone to see me all alone on a Friday night, driving a golf cart around the neighborhood!” she said.

Of course! Totally logical.

Her dad comes back with the golf cart. The pieces of it, I should say. When she hit, she flew through the windshield and landed on the pavement. Hit so hard the axle snapped in half and the wheels fell off. It’s a miracle she wasn’t seriously injured.

This is not what’s bothering me really. It’s just what led me to tell you what is.

Today is her 16th birthday. I’m taking her tomorrow morning to the court house to test for her drivers permit. Instead of a golf cart she will now be driving a 2-ton car.

Hide your kids. Hide your wife.

Will she turn off her lights on a Friday night, when she’s all alone, driving 60mph on the highway, to spare herself the embarrassment of being seen?

Will she walk away unhurt if she ever gets flung through a windshield again?

As I’m driving about my day, I get a panicky feeling now when I see a moron driver because I immediately think of my baby sharing the road with him.

Will she know how to handle driving on black ice? I don’t, but I really hope she does.

Celebrating her sweet 16 today makes me thankful. It’s been an exciting 16 years watching her grow into her own independent person, but it feels like with that independence that I’m letting a piece of her go.

I’m losing some of that comforting pseudo control I think I have. It sets my anxiety into overdrive. I’m not ready. The 16 years went by too fast. AAAAHHHHHH!

“Ask and it will be given to you…” Matthew 7:7.

I’m not sure I buy it exactly. I’ve asked many times for things and was not given them. Nevertheless, I keep asking. I gather that when I ask for things that are heavenly and pure that it may be the sort of thing he’s speaking of giving to people when they ask. I bet if I prayed to hit the lottery he’d be less likely to say yes then when I pray for more faith. The whole “blessed are the poor” thing probably knocks me out of his favor with the ole lottery prayer, but I must think he wouldn’t be stingy on my request for peace and deeper faith.

It’s my only hope. Praying for faith.

Faith that he will look over my girl. His girl.

Faith that he will protect her. Faith that his control is good and sufficient.

Faith.  I’m praying for more of it.

It’s the only way to keep from suffering a nervous breakdown over this.

I’ll also try to focus on the upside.

I’ll have a runner now. Someone to make trips to the grocery for me. Someone to drop off our dry cleaning. Someone who understands the importance of headlights.

So Happy Sweet 16th birthday baby girl. Momma loves you. Call me when you get there. And when you leave. But not while you’re driving.

In the meantime, I’ll be sitting here praying for faith to relax and enjoy it all. That and stiff cocktail should do the trick.

Unfriended

Dear Teenage Daughter Of Mine,

I’ve given it a lot of thought and I’ve decided that we can’t be friends.

It’s not me. It’s you.

You help me understand why some animals eat their young.

When you were born you were exceptionally adorable, far surpassing the adorableness of the other babies born that day. I’m sure the other mothers looked at their newborns that day with great disappointment. You were such a good baby. You took long naps so that I could get a break, you slept all night in your own bed. You ate anything, which made me feel superior to the other moms complaining about their picky eaters. You were independent and had a desire to do things on your own. You took crap from no one, even as a toddler. When the sweet old man from church would touch your hand and smile at you, you would respond by pulling your hand back and throwing a ‘go to hell, go straight to hell’ look at him. You were so cute though that he would just laugh and try again next week. You were pretty perfect, actually. I had high hopes for you.

Now you are a teenager and at only 14 years old, you are equipped with a super model body and killer eye lashes. You draw attention of older boys because you don’t look a day younger than 17. This is not fair to me, being that I’m a full 7 inches shorter and 15 pounds heavier than you. You are still very strong willed, smart, creative and totally hilarious. You still will on occasion shoot a death glare at anyone talking to you whom you are not fond of (it’s something we are working on). However, none of this is why we can’t be friends.

You have turned from a sweet wide eyed little girl who loved zoo animals and American Girl dolls into a hormonal, irrational, emotional teenager. I have to strategize how I’m going to approach you about topics I fear may set you off, like trying to tell you that the wait at Olive Garden is too long and we are going to have to find a plan b restaurant to eat. When you are hungry you are especially scary. Full disclosure, you get that honestly. You may have inherited that trait. You bounce back and forth from being a child to being a fun loving, energetic teenager to being an immature adult. This is why we can’t be friends. People have warned me about this teenager thing, but I didn’t believe them….not my baby. Turns out they were on to something.

We can’t be friends because you need my help to survive your teen years and become an adult who people don’t avoid at parties.

Right now you don’t really need the other half of my BFF heart necklace. You need a mom.

When we argue because you have decided to wear your new fall outfit that includes an adorbs boho top layered with a long cardigan and skinny jeans with ankle boots on a day in early September when the weather forecast calls for a humid 92 degrees I am reminded that while you may not like me, you need me. Literally, need me to save you from heat stroke on the bus.

When you roll your eyes at me and mumble something hateful under your breath as you walk out of the room because I won’t allow you to ride in a car with the 16 year old boy you are crushing on I can see your innocence and how short sighted you are right now. You don’t see all the life altering consequences that can come from it, but I can so I’m willing to let you treat me like I’m the one being unrealistic in the matter.

When we are on a paradise beach vacation where everything seems perfect, yet when one little thing doesn’t go your way you curl up those long legs into a ball so that you can get in my lap and nuzzle into my chest to cry I’m yet again reminded that even though you are getting closer to being grown, you are still a child. You need me.

Let’s be honest. You have friends. I have friends. We don’t need to be each other’s friend right now. I make you insane with all my dumb rules and frankly you aren’t always a peach to live with either.

Never mistake my determination that we can’t be friends as a lack of love. I’ve prayed for you since the moment I discovered I was pregnant. Every day. My prayers have shifted as life has shifted. I used to pray that you would sleep well at night in your crib. I prayed that your diaper rash would clear up. I prayed that you wouldn’t get too hysterical over the shots you were going to get at the doctor’s office. I prayed for your self-esteem as you went through that awkward phase of snaggled teeth and crooked glasses. I prayed that your 1st day of high school this year would go great. Daily, I pray for your health, your safety, that you will make wise decisions and that you won’t get involved with the wrong crowd. I pray that as you edge closer to those dating years that you will know a douche bag when you see one. I pray that you will find a balance between confidence and humility.

It’s hard for you to understand and I don’t expect that you will ever fully understand until you have children of your own how deep my love is for you. You are the best part of me and your dad. You and your brother are the beat in our hearts. When you hurt, we hurt. It’s our job to raise you to be an adult who is kind, responsible, respects herself and shows respect to others. We want to send you out into the world as ready as you can be for what life will throw at you. We want you to be fierce and strong.

As it turns out, to fulfill that mission, this love I have for you is not well received all the time. It sucks and I wish it wasn’t that way, but I have hope it won’t last forever. It’s okay that you don’t always like me or think I’m cool.

So when you yell at me to come into your room to curl your hair in the mornings, complain about how it looks afterwards, ask me to iron your shirt, make you some breakfast then on the way to school remind me of a 3 page form I need to complete before I drop you off at school or you won’t be able to attend the field trip I knew nothing about, I will take a deep breath and do it.

Because I love you.

Also because I have been praying to God that you will have a daughter exactly like you one day. That, in itself, will be the reward I need to make this all worth it.

I hope you understand. Don’t take it personally.

Love,

Mom