Lula surprised me on Friday with an invitation to the nail salon. It was a treat for my recent birthday, and it really was a treat because I don't do those things for myself, or rather... I do do those things for myself...myself. (that sentence almost made my brain bleed)
So it was a wonderful surprise! Not the getting my nails done part, although that was nice too, it reminded me of when she was little and I used to paint her toe nails like smarties to cheer her up if she was sad. The nice surprise was that she asked. The nice surprise was that Lula wanted to do this with me! We've been in that place... that place you never think you are going to end up in when you are busy changing diapers and fixing ponytails. We were at the place of differences.
The place of differences is that span of time in which your teenage daughter thinks the best thing for her is the exact opposite of everything you say and the best place for her is anywhere you are not. It is the time span in which you wonder if the little girl who used to need you to tie her shoes really has the capacity to handle her own life. It is the time where you make a mental list of all the things you overlooked, failed to teach or downright forgot to tell her. Have you heard the forensic theory that says 'if you commit the perfect crime and replay it back in your head; for every one thing you realize you may have forgotten there are actually twenty five things you did.'? That is what it feels like, the place of differences, and I don't care if you are the most involved, dedicated, open, loving parent in the world at some point we all end up in the place of differences. You will bang your head against the wall, seek advise from anyone and everyone, you will cry and scream and you will nag and you will talk. You can equate your parental effectiveness to a 'do-nothing' and you will sound like the teacher from Charlie Brown. At one point I wasn't even listening to me anymore!
All along the way there were people wiser than me, those who had gone before me into the abyss who said "just keep talking, just keep hugging, just keep loving". I'll be honest here I spent a lot of time nodding my head and thinking to myself... "do you remember being here? Nobody can come out alive or at the very least remotely as sane as they went in! Did the fumes of teenage angst affect your memory?" These people all said "They come back" and in my head I thought "Not mine, I've outdone myself in the alienation department."
But they do, and that was the surprise.
Gratitude today to all the people who went before me who said it would happen, I apologize for questioning your mental stability. You were right and thank you for believing it would happen for me too. Yes, I know this might only be a visit. (I'm surprised, not stupid) but I can glimpse days to come and it makes me smile.
Gratitude to my Lula for inviting me along, for surprising me. I want you to know that in the Place of Differences, when you thought I was only nagging, I was also watching you grow. You've given me a lot to worry about but oodles more to be proud of....I think you are going to turn out ok ;)
To God, Mother nature, and the Overlords of adolescent/parental survival....gratitude for spacing my children far enough apart that I get to do this one at a time! one down, two to go.
Gratitude, Hope and Smiles are meant to be shared (so are stories of surviving)