My oldest daughter had a make-up test today. I didn’t know it, because I thought she was taking it yesterday. Yesterday, she came home from school expounding that it was a horrible day. I assumed it was from taking the test. I was wrong. Once she ate, she felt better.
She turned 15 this week, although she wants to continue to be 14. She’s in denial and so I am. Her story is that she is adopted from Guatemala, not as a baby, but as a five year old(or older). Never experiencing many of her firsts; like her first smile, her first laugh, her first crawl, her first walk, or her first run, I am more challenged with letting her go. I cling to every accomplishment, longing for the ones I missed. Hoping this could make up for the time when she was not in my care.
From the time of her homecoming, I have been by her side, nurturing her, mothering her, guiding her, assisting her, and loving her. She was an orphan, motherless and left to manage on her own. Thankfully, kind and loving people took up her cause, before I was there to “rescue” her. She has needed me and I have needed her, but our needs now have changed.
She is adjusting to this change, as she has adjusted to losing her birth mother, her language, and her country. Her calm and easy spirit propels her life forward, at an ever slow pace. My style is not her style. Calm and easy, although my goals, are not my natural state. Intense, focused, and determined, I challenge the world.
The life of a parent and the life of a teen are not always compatible, especially, with opposing personalities. We have to learn to need each other in a new way. Gone are the days she relies solely on her mother for support. Turning to her friends more often than her parents, she masters her surroundings. I must adjust, in order to survive. Finding myself in fear mode, I judge and offer advice, when advice is not sought. Understanding is.
Learning to quiet my mind and quiet my voice is a daily opportunity to hold space for her. She needs me to be her rock, her strength, and her constant, not her judge and her criticizer. Life is constant adjustment, in order to gain understanding, as your needs and the needs of those around you change.
Susan J. McFarland
Susan J. McFarland