Monday BARB UP November 25, 2019

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You know what’s on my mind: The Teenager. She’s coming home in two mother-effing days. I get her on the other side of my bedroom wall, her sleeping soundly in her bed, for five nights. She has not been home in a while; the last time I saw her was when I visited her at her college, being a guest in her home, for a cozy weekend. Now. To be clear. I’m lucky in that The Teenager texts me every day, or responds to every text I send. She Facetimes and she calls and she will on occasion, slide into a DM. But. And you know this but. She’s not here, she’s living in another city, diving into everything that city has to offer her, she’s happy, she’s empowered, she’s independent, in ways that living with her mother does not allow her to be, because when she’s home? She’s accountable to me. “When will you be home?” It’s a constant text, particularly as I go to bed twenty minutes after the sun sets, and she, she will stay out and up. When we’re living apart, I have to force myself to turn that part of my brain off, the one that looks at where she is on the Find My Phone app, or the one that texts “Good Night,” hoping to get a response, which is code for an assurance that she is healthy, that she is safe, that she is in bed. This, this is the thing you learn to accept, to allow that acceptance, when your child leave your home for college, or elsewheres, this mandate that you let go of your child’s hand, for her own sake. I’m leaning into it, this acceptance. I’m leaning into this life with her as an adult. I’m leaning into my own sense of independence, that I have put on pause since the moment I knew I was carrying her life within my body, knowing that every step I took was a step that impacted her in some way. Now, now I can choose to be out, I can choose to stay in, I can choose to eat a piece of salmon that I accidentally overdosed in olive oil, without it impacting her. I can make choices, in ways I did before I discovered this complex part of me, how deeply that thread weaves itself in and around my being, this part of me I have embraced, I have loved, I have nurtured. It’s at times foreign, to think in this way, requires an extra amount of effort, of lack of consideration, and that, that latter bit is not natural to me, having known what it is to be a parent, to always consider my child’s needs. And The Teenager, this person I adore unconditionally, she comes home in two days, and all my choices, everything I do for the duration of her visit, will be in celebration, and I am so very much looking forward to it, to flexing that muscle again.

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