Thursday, October 22, 2009

Regrets 'R' Us

My, I’m full of angsty goodness today. My wonderful kid just turned seventeen. Seventeen! Let me say it a few more times so I can get used to it: Seventeen. Seventeen. Seh… ven… teen. One-Seven. Seven-freaking-teen. Seventeen-seventeen-seventeen-seventeen.

Nope. Soooo not feeling it.

I want it on record that I expressly forbade her from doing it. Even threatened to ground her for the rest of her life. But that headstrong kid of mine completely ignored me and turned seventeen anyway.

So…about my kid. She’s a shining, ancient soul; visionary and full of talent, which she doesn’t like for me to notice. And while her vision is a great gift, I think it is sometimes a heavy burden as well. Being seventeen doesn’t make that any easier. As a result, sometimes she suffers. And I suffer for her, alternately blaming God and myself (well, mostly myself) for her dysphoria.

As we approach the day when she leaves home (she wants to move to the West coast the second she’s done with high school), I find myself increasingly frustrated by the many mistakes – some very serious – that I made as a parent.

Yet I know that regretting the past – and dreading the future, with its bleak empty-nestedness – accomplishes only one thing: it pulls me away from my amazing kid, who is still at home and who resides only in the here and now.

Seventeen. Maybe there’s some parallel universe where I got it right. Where she got to be her age every single day and lived in a reasonably clean house. Where she didn’t have to compete for attention with a chaotic mélange of animals and filth and cold water. Where I only made promises I could keep. Where I baked pies and cakes, and cooked real meals in a real oven.

As I sit in this place full of regrets, though, it’s only fair that I credit myself for three things I’ve done right, at least most of the time: I’ve loved her, I’ve let her be who she is, and I’ve enjoyed her. Those were the three things I set out to do when I became a mother. I still think those things are important.

And one more thing that probably matters: My kid has never seen me drunk. Whatever else I screwed up, I got that much right. I’m hoping that counts for something in the grand scheme of things.

Still… Sometimes wish I could go back and do it right.

Oh, all right. Seventeen… Seventeen. I’ll get used to it, eventually. Yeah… Probably about the time she turns eighteen.


  1. Anonymous8:29 AM

    There is no way to do it "right." I think you got the most important things right. Stop beating yourself up.

    BTW, when I read your line about being middle aged it really stopped me. I can accept being old myself, but you and Robin will forever be kids.

  2. Yes, stop beating yourself up. If you were a title fight, the referee would have stopped it ages ago.

    As you suggest, regrets (and fears) keep you from where you are -- in the here and now. And that means missing a clear view of this gorgeous, talented, amazing kid you've shepherded through childhood.

    What a wonderful job you have done! So dial down the self pity.

    And look how astonishing that kid is today! Well done, Mom.

  3. I share your feelings. ~Bea