Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Home is a springboard

We were in line for the drive-thru behind a car filled with teenage girls. They wore uniforms of some team, maybe soccer or softball. We could see the matching sunshine-yellow shirts. The ponytails.

The laughter.

I had one of those weird moments where I rapidly aged my daughter. Put her right into her teens. Into that car, packed with friends and the salty, greasy smell of In-N-Out burgers on a gorgeous day in a beach town.

That feeling of invincibility. Immortality. The endless possibility of what the day will bring.

I thought about her first crush, her first date, her first boyfriend. Prom. Best friends. College.

She has so much ahead of her. So much. All my kids are only beginning. They don't even yet realize what life can offer.

But we do. We do. I remarked to David, as we watched this carful of girls, about how that's going to be Sage some day. And that it'll never be us again. We'll never have that same kind of magic, ourselves. We're middle-aged. We've been there. It was amazing, sometimes. It was awful, sometimes. We really, really get the adage of "youth is wasted on the young." It so is, isn't it?

This is not to say we won't have our own personal achievements, or that we won't have amazing moments together. It's just different.

And it's okay. It's a little sad, but okay. We've lived.

It's our childrens' turn. I'll probably be envious at times. Even of the heartache. When else do you live as fully? Feel so much?

Thing is, my kids have a solid base: their family. We are here to guide them, cheer them on, support them, love them. They live in a society that encourages independence (despite occasionally needing some reminders).

They can fall in love and, hopefully by the time they're ready, can marry who they want. Or they can choose not to marry.

I read I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced, in which a 10 year-old Yemeni girl is married to a man more than twice her age, and then, despite assurances by him to her parents that he'll wait for her to reach puberty, he rapes and beats her almost immediately after they wed.

It's a horror we can't imagine. The betrayal by her parents, who hide behind religious tradition, is beyond tragic.

Nujood escapes and, on her own, travels to see a judge and eventually is granted a highly-publicized divorce.

And then she goes back to her parents. Because she was only 10 and where else could she go?

That's not what home is.

It's a springboard. But it's also a safety net.

This post is part of the SV Moms book club selection. I was sent a copy of the book because of my participation in this group.


One Photo said...

Oh wonderful post Cheryl, I just love it. Although my daughter is only three I often think of those teenage years and in fact all the stages of life ahead of her. But being a young adult is a special time, life seems to vibrant yet so somehow daunting at times also.

My husband says he is going to get a gun when our daughter starts dating and display it prominently when any potential suitor calls (he has, by the way, never owned or even handled a gun before). He also says he will follow her on every outing to make sure she is OK. I think I might have to leave home for a few years, he will drive me crazy!

Cheryl said...

Yes, my husband also has some plans when the time comes, also involving firearms and several of our large neighbors.


I have those weird moments all the time where my adolescence flashes before my eyes as I simultaneously imagine hers. It is such a privilege to get a taste of childhood again through her eyes. But why oh why, Great Mystery of Life, is youth indeed so wasted on the young?

Sarah at The Stroller Ballet said...

This is a great post. I do that often when I see teenagers - age my little girl. And I've had a lot of the same thoughts you have - about it being sad that I won't ever experience that time again. I guess that's good, though. That we look back on it with a sense of nostalgia that almost makes us sad?

Varda said...

Cheryl: Lovely post (as always). I, too sometimes look at teenage boys and think wow, I'm going to blink and that's going to be my boys. I both can & can't imagine it. At nearly 8 they are so on the brink of big kid-ness, and then they'll curl up in my lap like kittens again. Sigh. Oh, also come over to my neck of the woods, I've FINALLY got a new post. It's called "From Autist to Artist" and is, of course, about Jake.

Jen C said...

Great Post! I've had the same thoughts. I've imagined what my kids will be like later in life. Parts of it I'm looking forward to. Parts of it I'm not.

The story of Nujood is a tragic one. You're right, that's not what home is.

(oh and last two lines of this piece? Brilliant!)

kirsten said...

this is a beautiful post, Cheryl. But you know, I'm not sure I want that part of life again - the insecurity, the intensity, the DRAMA. (And I was a pretty low-drama girl!) You sure couldn't PAY me to be 13 again. Not any amt of money.

Having said that, give me my twenties again? Aw hell to the yeah. That was a much more fabulous time for me.

Cheryl said...

Momsicle - You know what's really wasted? Their energy! I get exhausted just watching how busy kids are!

Sarah - I'm glad I'm not the only one. I guess I'm sad I'll never have that thrill again, that happiness w/out responsibility, you know?

Varda - Your post? Brilliant!

Jen - Yeah, some parts I'm DEFINITELY not looking forward to. Namely, the attitude!

Kirsten - Yes, my teen years weren't exactly filled with glee. I am totally w/ you on redoing my 20s, tho!

Karen Mortensen said...

What a very thoughtfull post. What a story you read. Wow.
Today my husband and I were talking about what it might have been like if our son had been born normal.

Cheryl said...

Karen - I don't even know what to say. Hugs to you.

Hyacynth said...

Oh my. I know that feeling -- knowing you'll never be that young, that innocent ever again. It's simultaneously heartbreaking and reassuring. Sometimes I feel lime the older I get, the more complicated my emotions become.
Great post. So glad you shared.

Jill said...

Another great post. My mind floats there often. Especially at weddings... I put my kids in place of the bride & groom. I can't image letting them go right now. Sport is 9. I'm 1/2 done with him! That's just crazy.

Anonymous said...

this gave me shivers

Heidi - D said...

Wow. So true. I am just now beginning to realize that the mystery and excitement of my youth has passed me by - this post expressed that feeling SO well.

Thank you! Stopping by from SITS!

Elise said...

I loved this post. Emma is eight and already itching for independence. I do hope she doesn't follow in my footsteps, because of course I was the bad girl with the hidden pack of cigarettes in the glove compartment... Ugh. I fear my karmic payback!

kris said...

My girl are a little bit older, and sometimes I can so clearly see the women they will be. It is delightful and also scary, those sudden flashes into the not-so-distant future.

I'm not sure I am prepared.

But I look forward to seeing what happens next, and their Daddy and I will be here for them no matter what.

Springboard . . . I love that!

Eli's Lids said...

Ha! Whenever I see a group of teens I try to pick out the ones Eli and Cora will be like.
What a shame that thousands (if not millions) of children around the world are robbed of their childhood/teen years!

Cheryl said...

Hyacynth - I know what you mean. DEFINITELY more complicated as I'm older, with all I've learned and all that I still have to learn - and not all of it pleasant!

Jill - You'll never be done with them, right? I wonder if we'll always see our kids as little, even when they're parents themselves. I'm guessing yes!

Mombshell - Hopefully in a good way?

Heidi - Yes, it's a sad realization, isn't it?

Elise - But look how you turned out!

Kris - I'm not sure if we're EVER prepared, you know?

Kara Noel - I'm always hoping my boys won't be the one riding skateboards with dyed black hair and a cigarette dangling from their lips!

Rudri said...

I love the metaphor for the springboard. I also like how you weaved the post from light to serious. It breaks my heart to hear about that ten year old girl. Unfortunately I know it is a horrific reality for some.

Kara-Noel said...

Ha, just read your response when I came across your post on the SV Moms list. (I'm FINALLY going through all the post... super fun!)
I'm leaning toward Eli being the tall handsome popular but not cocky teenager. LOL! No high expectations or anything. Boys don't worry me as much. For Cora I just pray she isn't one of the mean girls.

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