Daughter is home for reading week. Unlike the holiday break, this visit has no sense of frenzy. It is like the old days. Except. It's. Not.
I've always felt that I've been about one or two steps emotionally ahead of her. This is to say that yes, I'm an emotional misfit and most parents I've observed seem to have a lot more maturity than I've ever felt.
This feeling was driven home last night and in fact I am now suspicious that Daughter's emotional maturity is starting to catch up and even surpass mine.
During last night's rather heavy dinner conversation I found myself unable to offer anything resembling answers to her questions. I hit the 'parenting wall'. I suggested that she try to nurture the type of relationship with her father in which she could ask him these same questions for I had no idea what to say. All I could do was listen and then offer the physical support of a long hug that seemed to acknowledge my failure to provide adequate guidance as well as provide the soul soothing comfort of physical closeness that used to be so central to our relationship. Our physical need for one another seems to have been misplaced during her teen years, as is healthy and normal.
Daughter, at 18, is now an adult. And she is facing adult concerns. As a fellow adult that also is her mother I think the most mature thing for me to do is step back from my parenting pulpit and remind her that sometimes all we can do for our fellow man is offer a hug that reminds us that we are - fortunately - not alone facing life's trials and tribulations.
Inside, I am swirling with chaotic protective emotions that are screaming to protect her. Demanding me (and my inner annoying maternal perfectionist) to seek out answers that will better my vacant "I don't know what to say" responses from last night. I have to squelch the urge to email or text her father and make demands on him that will fall on dead ears (history is a brilliant teacher).
I was told recently by a wise man with more than four decades of parenting experience that conversations with my young adult child would start to get very interesting. What I didn't realize when he said that was that the interesting bit was not necessarily just on the surface but would hit me in a place inside that until last night, I didn't know existed.