Monday, April 6, 2015

When Vacation Days Collide
My daughter's school is closed today. I have mixed emotions about that. I love having her home, but a day off with a teenager whose plans include homework (or the constant procrastination thereof -- can't imagine where she gets that from), followed by a succession of back-to-back plans is quite different from those warm, cozy days off with a first grader. "No school" days with a first grader were bonus days, found time. Opportunities to play together or make special plans.

These days, her special plans are made with friends. My role is to be available on her terms. Conversations on topics of mutual interest may or may not occur, and if they do, they're likely to pop up just when I've decided that she's otherwise occupied and I can dig into some of the work on my desk. Just when my train of thought gets rolling, she appears in the doorway, seeking my undivided attention.

Or, worse yet, she doesn't.

From the day she was born, my daughter has had an independent streak, one I have nurtured. I want her to know who she is and what she wants -- to stand on her own two feet.

Which she is using to walk away from me. Which is exactly what she's supposed to do.

So, on these days off, I find myself not quite starting anything, procrastinating more than usual, being available "just in case."

There is no one else in the universe I would do that for. Wait around for a potential scrap of attention?
Drop what I'm doing to make myself available? Subordinate my work, my projects, my to do list to the whims of another person?

Sounds like the makings of a dysfunctional relationship...unless you realize that someone else is a teenager.

More and more these days, I realize that these days are numbered, so I try to be patient. I try not to grimace when, just as I sit down to concentrate on something, she decides it's time to turn on music at full volume (is there any other volume when you are seventeen?), blasting whatever coherent thoughts I might have had straight into oblivion.

Why don't I just tell her to turn it off? Why indeed. The temptation is great, but tempered by the fact that I would have missed out on so many conversations about music, people, opinions, society....if I'd just told her to turn the music off.

The music, the noise, the random, "Hey, Mom!" chats -- all a window into her mind, one that is quickly closing as she becomes her own person and cares less about my opinions and more about her own.

Today, between blasts of music, she's curled up on the living room sofa with a book and I'm one room away, writing this. She is nearby, sharing random snippets and reactions to her book -- at least for another forty minutes before she drives off to lunch with friends. Then, I will get the quiet I am seeking -- the quiet I'm used to on weekdays when she's at school and her dad is at work.

The quiet I'm not so sure I want after all.

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