The season of transformation

The rink my daughter and I visited yesterday did not evoke any memory at all for me. She however remembered and mentioned the name of her coach from that game they played there.

“We were here with coach John,” she said.

“You were really young then,” I said. “Like 6 or 7.”

She’s 15 now.

The facility was modern with two ice pads. The one we were not using had a mirror along the length of one side, like in a ballet studio. I would have remembered if I had seen this before. That’s an unusual feature, and given how many rinks I’ve been to in 13 years of hockey and 8 years of ringette, I would have remembered this facility. Perhaps her dad took her here? He used to help out with coaching the girls before our son’s hockey got busier…

Anyway, what a game. We ended up with a 2-2 tie (Sonja had 18 shots on net and scored the first goal!) but the refs put everyone, on both sides, in the penalty boxes. It was weird how many penalties they gave the girls; neither team was particularly aggressive. We’ve certainly played against much more aggressive teams before… Sonja didn’t get a penalty herself, but some of the girls got repeated ones. It was… weird.

Ringette is a sport similar to hockey, but designed for girls. There’s no contact like in NHL hockey, but our girls are in the U16/19 division and sometimes peripheral and unintentional contact happens. Still, they’re well protected with their gear and helmets, and you can see how much they enjoy the game. Even before and after, the girls are chatty and giggly, and it’s nice to see the relationship bonds are so firmly anchored.

For many girls, ranging from age 14 to 16, the pandemic years were difficult. I listened to one of the moms yesterday who outlined almost identical challenges with her daughter as I experience with mine. After she finished, I thanked her for sharing (it was brief and without too many details but enough that I understood). I told her knowing that others struggle in similar ways makes me feel less alone.

And there it is, isn’t it.
Feeling alone.
That repeated invisibility I’ve talked about in this blog on and off for years.
The isolation and loneliness.
Midlife invisibility.

It touches us women in a variety of realms right through the very difficult adolescent phases of our kids. It causes identity crises (at least for me) right alongside those of our daughters, and often, a rift rather than a bridge appears between mom and kid (especially mom and daughter who should be, theoretically, bonded so deeply to one another that nothing can sever it).

I’m not interested in guiding the kids to the degree of insisting they do what I think is best; I’m perfectly willing to let them carve out their own path. But, I see stuff which they don’t, and herein lays the problem: teenagers always know better. And us moms and dads, we have to listen, and not speak.

This is very, very hard.

I used to think I would suffer during the transformation of the teen-separation years, you know, going off to University or what have you, but in fact, I look forward to it now. I want them to go and live life on their terms. I can’t wait for them to evolve and mature into the amazing individuals they’re already forming into now.

To be clear, the pulling-away part (me from the kids) happens internally in self-dialogue. It doesn’t come from partner or extended family, or even the kids. They’re not pushing me away but I feel the pull away regardless. It’s difficult to explain. I believe it’s my own internal dialogue that keeps me stuck. I cannot even admit to how often I berate myself for saying/doing/acting wrong (in their eyes which then makes it so for me). I keep thinking, I know better than to engage, to push, to invite to talk when clearly, they want more space and less taking.

My headspace makes me think of aviation:

I’m the plane that has pushed off the gate.
I’m taxiing toward the runway, but Air Traffic Control won’t clear me for take-off.

This week, the kids are in exam week. My son is in grade 12 and Sonja in grade 10, and neither has experienced an exam in a lecture hall or auditorium. Remember those? It was one of those events that was removed during the lockdown years for fear of spreading viruses here in my province. Now, suddenly, it’s ok to have exams in large spaces again and off they go into auditoriums. The sad thing is, neither kid will talk about this to me later. They’re both in the “the less said to parents the better” mentality. I accept this as normal; in fact, I remember I was the same way when I was 17, and, my mom just recently told me she, too, experienced a deep desire to disconnect from family when she reached the end of adolescence. (She moved from Switzerland to Australia by herself around the end of her teen years.)

But I still want to know how they felt, those humans I birthed.

Well, in recent years I had to learn to let go of everything: expectations, desires, hopes, dreams… For them and for myself. I know they will return and invite me into their lives again eventually (or ask for money, ha), but for now, we live parallel lives in a shared communal home which I flee every so often when I escape into the suburbs to decompress in my room with a door.

It’s time for me to focus on self more than ever while simultaneously keeping an eye on family circumstances from a perceived distance (within the house and from the suburbs during my sabbaticals). Somehow, I have to emerge out of this rut and prepare for lift-off. I can see, feel, that the circumstances keeping me stuck are losing weight.

I will find a way and the kids will be alright.

Meanwhile, it snowed yesterday, just in time for us to leave the rink. It took twice as long to return to Toronto’s west end in the snow, and traffic was a nightmare, but something amazing happened: my daughter introduced me to some indie music she enjoyed listening to while we inched along through snow-covered traffic and then…

She sent me her playlist. 🥰

I know nothing about her type of music but we listened to some of it in the car, and I kept asking her the name of the singer or band. When she offered to send me her playlist so I could see the names for myself, I was both pleasantly surprised and happily elated.

I think I will cook and clean the house today while listening to her songs. How’s that for a happy ending to this post?

Thank you for reading my post, and for following and commenting. It means something to me, and I appreciate all of you. 🥰



11 thoughts on “The season of transformation

  1. Totally get how you’re feeling! Seems like no one talks enough about how to handle this parental transition, finding the balance between showing up enough and backing off. Now that my eldest is working full-time, I’m appreciating her ability to become more financially independent and take charge of her own self, overall, but I do still feel like inserting myself when it comes to some of her choices. Learning to take a step back is definitely easier said than done.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just before reading about the Playlist, I was thinking about how I kept connected with my teens thru music. I took the older to a concert at 12 and the younger was 13 for their first. We still go to concerts together.
    It’s a good bridge to have! That and money of course😝🤣🤣🤣🤣

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Been there, done that, don’t want to do it again. I have sons who were extra private and closed me out of their lives as teenagers & 20 somethings. Between them and introverted Hubs, there was nobody to talk to at home. My friends and work and volunteer activities and spiritual activities were my lifelines and helped me grow in different directions (apart from being a parent). Now that my sons are 40 & 39, they are better, but they still hold us at an arms length and don’t let us get too close. About all I can do is just continue to love, support them, listen to them when they do talk, and make sure they know I will always have their backs. But I know without a doubt that they love me ,and I know your kids love you, and in the end, isn’t that what it’s all about?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You know that there is life after kids but as a mom there’s such an internal tug of war because we often feel our entire existence and meaningful purpose is wrapped up in growing good humans that also reflect on the job we did. I have always felt really lucky that I had semi cooperative and reasonable kids. Of course there were days or weeks that I would have given them away to the highest bidder, but now I remember none of that. Now I look at these three adults who are amazing and it’s not so hard to look at the days of sacrifice, the overwhelming desire for time just for me, and those moments when running away seemed valid. It would be easy to run, and I bet there isn’t a mom who hasn’t thought about that very thing- yet when they fly higher than you could ever imagine none of the hard stuff matters.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just feel so tired of the stuck feeling. I question everything I think and do all the time.

      Thank you for the glimpse into your experience. I look forward to the future but realize the gift is in the present. It’s so helpful to know people who’ve done it have survived and are still standing. 😊

      Maybe I’ll be normal-ish again by spring. 😀 The season right now, the gloomy weather, it’s making me crazy which doesn’t help.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I remember being in the space you are currently occupying. It’s not easy allowing individuals who were completely dependent on you minutes ago to go skipping off into their own reality, one they prefer I not clean, council, or command. What the hell? When my oldest two, both girls, entered high school, I had a nightmare one night. I dreamed that I couldn’t see their faces anymore. They were blank, just skin, no features. I woke up in a sweat. I think I was processing my inability to know and be a full time participant in their lives like I had been for 16 years! I was not longer able to see a big chunk of their lives and it was difficult to accept. But you do, it’s part of the parenting process, and as they move into their adult selves, I have to admit, it just keeps getting better and better. I hear you Claudette and you are doing a fabulous job, and now you have a cool play list! Hugs, C

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is some visual, faceless kids. So interesting! And scary! I appreciate you sharing this memory with me, thank you. I’m tired of being suspended in this phase, ugh, but I understand it’s going to take a little longer to get through. So nice of you to send encouraging words my way. Thank you Cheryl. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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