Maddy & I have been doing our own things the last two weeks. I'd say I'm really enjoying this phase, but, truthfully, I've loved every phase of parenting, each more compelling than the last. Infant to toddler, diapers to her own wildly mismatched outfits, dress-up to Barbies to school dances ... just a blink ago she required the structures of mid-adolescence -- curfews, "What are you doing and who's going with you?" and house rules intended to sustain adult authority and parental protection. I even got into being the most annoying mom in the world.
Now we've landed on less hands-on parenting but more mutual respect, and I'm loving these deeper shores, too.
The new transition means we text each other our whereabouts rather than ask permission (her) or feel guilty when extending a business trip to play (me). She goes with her friends to out-of-town concerts, tours UNC-Asheville alone with Lou and Laurie, checks into a Winston hotel with three friends ("Mom, we had to shop since the mall was right next door, and the jeans were such a good deal ...") and then next morning they get themselves to an excellent CapEd's SAT Boot Camp. Even when we fight -- and we are fiery screamers -- we both know when to retreat, laughing civilly through our cell phones when face-to-face embers still smolder.
Last week while I was in California Maddy took the SAT, arranged letters of rec, drafted application essays, and painted the bathroom. (John keeps our homefires ablaze and our kids blissfully humming when I'm out of town, and I hope he knows I am the most grateful wife on the planet.) Tonight she made a 3-course dinner merely because she was first to reach the kitchen. When John and I go to Atlanta next weekend she'll take the dogs for a run and make sure her inevitable party doesn't attract the cops.
This is a cool phase, even with that party thing.
I do get wistful remembering a passel of cherry-cheeked kids on those luxurious snow days when I was still an ever-present mom. They'd sled and shriek for hours, speeding furiously all the way down to our distant mailbox if the snow was just right. I'd hand out wool socks and prepare hot-chocolate warmth and bottomless pizza, lugging the big tv into the living room so they could watch a roaring fire alongside Julia Roberts (for the zillionth time). I loved those days something fierce, even mopping up the puddle of snow gear abandoned by the front door.
But I feel a holy passage as I migrate from life director to awed witness of an unfolding adult. My daughter is an amazing person, and this phase offers a miraculous glimpse from a brand new perspective.