Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Absent Adolescent Angst

Addie spent the afternoon shopping with my mother. She texted me when they'd been gone for a couple of hours to ask permission to get her hair cut. I texted back that it was fine, and then she walked in a little while later looking like this:

I pretty much burst into tears. She is just so beautiful and smart and kind and ... well, amazing in every way. It occurred to me that she will be getting ready for high school graduation (and college ...) in just two years, that this child I have loved and nurtured and laughed with and cried with is going to be on her own in just a few short years. She will always be my baby, of course, but she will be making her own decisions and dealing with their consequences for herself.

It always scares me to put this into writing (it's sort of like asking for trouble), but Addie is such a blessing, the great gift of my life. The kids I teach now are in her age bracket, and I thank my lucky stars for the absence of adolescent angst that Addie has always epitomized. I know you can never know your child 100% (or even 85%, and that's if you're really lucky), but I trust that Addie hasn't been to those wild parties I experienced when I was her age and that she has never touched alcohol or drugs (in large part because she's seen firsthand how addiction can ruin lives).

She is starting to really come into her own, though, and her beauty is only part of it. She is brilliant, a musical prodigy, and most importantly a kind and thoughtful young lady. She has brought me such joy, and it kind of bothers me that this hit me like a tons of bricks when she walked in with her new haircut and her eyebrows done, looking like a young lady instead of an awkward teenager.

There's a bittersweet element to parenting that is new to me (like, only a few hours old). Why is it that my heart is swelling with love for Addie and pride for who she has become even as it is simultaneously breaking a little bit at the realization that Addie is becoming more of her own person--more of an adult, though it pains me a bit to say that--and will be slowly but surely severing her ties to me with each bit of growing up that she does?

It's the most beautiful, terrible paradox I've ever seen ...

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