I took my oldest daughter to a State Champs concert on Friday. It was a late birthday present to her, but it was just as much for me because it’s one of my favorite bands. We entered the club, where her hands were promptly marked with giant X’s to indicate that she is a minor. I wanted to take a picture; I told her it was funny. She would not let me, citing embarrassment. When I kindly reminded her she would not always be a minor and I should take advantage of this opportunity, she said, “Mom, it’s not like this will be the only concert we go to. You will have other opportunities.”
We would have other times to do this because she actually wants to hang out with her mother. Even at concerts where I feel like the oldest person in the room (and am definitely not); even at the mall drinking coffee and window-shopping until our feet hurt; even at night while she laughs at how funny I find cat videos and Deadpool.
My kid actually likes me, and I actually like her.
Not much of a revelation? For a 15 year old, this is huge. For me, it is even more because that is all I’ve ever wanted with my children. I want to be a mother and I have to be. I have to discipline. I often must be the “bad guy” when they are wrong or do something in error. I cannot be a friend, per se. But I want to be close and to truly enjoy our relationship. I dreamed of a Lorelei and Rory Gilmore type relationship, although I would stay married. That small statement confirmed that so far, I have it.
I had a very close relationship with my mother and still do, though it has changed the longer I have lived so far away from home. I shared with her and could talk to her about difficult things. She was a mother first, and I did plenty of stupid things that landed me in trouble. But she was also the person who comforted me in heartache and during disappointments. She gave me a wonderful childhood filled with opportunities, happy memories, and experiences.
I will not pretend that life was always good – there were bad days, moments, and times. That is how life is for everyone, and trying to pretend it was not benefits no one.
But even when she had to be tough, she was still someone I wanted to love and have in my life. When I bounced 5 checks right before Christmas because I was 18 and stupid with money, she bailed me out. When I told my mom I was pregnant just a month shy of graduating from high school, she handled it so much better than I expected. When I was married young, she was my maid of honor. When I was pregnant and my husband was deployed, she drove me 8 hours home to get my ribs put back in place after no chiropractor in my area would touch them (because yes, my daughter kicked my ribs out of place in utero. I never let her forget it).
She has been there for all my babies, even when I had my son in Germany, no matter the cost or time away from her life. If I have needed anything, she has tried to help however she can. I am not even listing all the ways she has been supportive over my 34 years because that would be a book, not a post. And even when we make each other crazy or think that the other is just awful and mean, my mother is still someone I want to be around. I wanted that same thing for my children and myself.
Anya and I have always had a different kind of bond.
I had her when I was only 19 years old. She changed my life and has been my little companion and friend for so much of this military life. She has traveled with me all over the world, and I have loved our solo trips together. Many times, she was the only one with me while the husband was gone for training and deployments, so we grew to depend on one another in a good way.
Anya has watched me grow up as much as I have her. She has watched me struggle and succeed. She and I share the same tastes in music, clothes, coffee, horror movies, and more. The older she grows, the more I love the person she is becoming: a confident, smart, and beautiful girl and almost woman (that was weird to type). I find that I want to spend time with her, even if it is as simple as grossing each other out with a horror movie. I have always wanted to be real and honest with her, even in the ugly moments, and she appreciates the reality of our life and relationship.
Of course I love being around her. How do you know your kids actually like you?
Because as I stated before, I have to be a parent. I have to correct her when she is wrong. I have to tell her to change when she tries to wear a crop top to school or when her makeup is too much. There are chores and tasks expected of her, and I have to discipline when these are not done. She pushes her father and I with her attitude and comments, which I cannot always ignore. I still have to be a mother.
So those little statements and affirmations that your child actually likes you are your validation. They remind me that while I am still her mother, my child does not hold it against me. My daughter and I can maintain our bond and enjoy one another’s company. She knows I am her mom, but I’m her mom that she is not embarrassed of and wants to spend time with. It is all I have really wanted with her and her siblings.
I cannot guarantee that this sentiment will last or that I will have this with all the children, so I’m riding this wave while it is here. If my own experiences with my mother are any indication, I think we are going to be enjoying each other’s company for a very long time.