Maddie, my almost 13-year-old, middle school kid, is growing up.
I don’t like it one bit.
Because in my eyes, she’s still my baby.
I mean, it seems like it was just yesterday that she was born, and nursing, and attached to my hip as she insisted on being carried everywhere. Even until a few months ago, she begged to still sleep in my bed and fought with Luke to sit next to me on the couch.
But, now she grows. Away from me.
Sure there are still times that she wants to sleep with me and times when she comes up and hugs me, but they’re rare. And I know they’ll become even more rare over the next few (several????) years.
I wish I could say that I’m accepting this like a mature adult, but I find myself throwing tantrums all the time, and behaving more like a toddler.
Inside, that is. On the outside I’m trying to keep it together. I’m barely accomplishing this.
Like today, for instance. I pick Maddie up from school and she gets into the back seat.
“Guess what happened today Mom,” she says, hands clasped together and bouncing in her seat.
“What? You got a 100% on your Spanish test?”
“Noooooooo. I mean maybe. I don’t know yet. Something better, Mom.”
“Maddie, I’m tired; it’s been a long day. Just tell me what happened.”
“I got asked out!”
“What,” I say. “By whom?”
“Well, what did you say,” I ask.
“I said YES!!!”
“You said yes?”
“Yeah, Mom. I really, really like him. I’m so happy!!!!!!!!!!!”
Inside I start panicking. My brain starts searching for answers: Images of locking my sweet baby girl in a closet flashed across my mind. No, I could go to jail for that. Homeschooling! That’s the answer, I think. Wait. I don’t even have the time right now to check her homework, so how will I home-school her? MOVE!!! Yes, we’ll move away to a different town. A smaller town. A town with no boys!!!!!
On the outside, however, I just calmly say, “Hmmmm. I trust you to make good decisions, and I’m sure this boy is nice [side note: I’ve heard he’s NOT! from an inside source], but I’m in a little bit of shock and I’m not sure how to handle this, so you’re going to have to give me 24 hours to let me absorb this because, you see, in my eyes you’re still my baby, and this is hard for me–you growing up. BUT, I’m really glad you told me.”
I think this was honest and mature. But since then, I’ve picked apart our conversation and thought about what to say tomorrow, but I keep sticking to one thing that’s really bothering me:
She said, “I got asked out.”
Maybe it’s the feminist in me, but really? It just seems so passive. I know, I know, this coming from me who didn’t–and said over and over I can’t and I won’t–want to ask out a man. But I
have had self-esteem issues. Maddie does not.
Or does she?
See, this is what’s bothering me.
In a bit of weird irony, tonight Maddie finished reading Jane Eyre, and she came downstairs to talk to me about it. I took this as the perfect opportunity to teach without preaching.
“Let’s talk about the ending, Maddie,” I said.
“No, let’s talk about the crazy wife in the attic,” she said.
“No, that’s sooooo boring,” I lied. “Let me read you my favorite line: ‘Reader, I married him.'”
“Um, that’s your favorite line?”
“Maddie, Jane is a feminist! She didn’t wait for someone to come rescue her, did she? Did she wait by the fire for someone to ask her out? No. She said NO to men!”
“Well, she said no to St. John, but she did say yes to Mr. Rochester.”
“O.K., she did. But she was a strong woman! She’s my hero Maddie. She should be yours.”
“I’m just glad she’s rich and married in the end.”
Reader, I let it go.
I’m going to bed with the intent of letting it all go for the night.
By tomorrow I will have a plan of how to deal with Maddie having a boyfriend (this is so difficult for me to even say aloud let alone type) that will be fair and goaded by trust and honesty.
I will grow up.
Because Maddie sure is.