I’m not sure when it happened, but almost overnight my 13-year-old has gained an independence that I think will serve her well throughout her life. She went from needing me for the most mundane tasks to taking charge of everything in her life and asking for my help only on rare occasions.
“I’m sorry,” I tell her in the car about forgetting to fix something on one of her nine dance costumes.
“Don’t worry about it, I worked it out,” she replies with the steadfastness of an 80-year-old woman who knows her mind.
“But, really, I should have been more involved this year. I really dropped the ball,” I lament.
“No, Mom, actually you did me a favor. It makes me have to figure stuff out for myself. I’d hate to go to college and not know how to do anything for myself.”
Such wisdom from a 13-year-old.
In the true vein of a second child with busy parents, she has figured a lot of stuff out for herself — from parsing the many emails about dance rehearsal times, changes and what to bring, to organizing her costumes and accessories for her competitions, to even coordinating rides with other mothers when plans change and I’m not available. It’s actually kind of amazing when I think about it.
“So, it doesn’t bother you that I work and can’t be there a lot?”
“No, as long as you’re there to watch me at the competitions, that’s all I care about,” she says, flashing me a stage-worthy smile.
This morning, as she prepared for her first competition of the year, we went through her checklist of items and put them in the dance bag together. She really didn’t need me, but it felt good to help her get ready and it felt good for her to want my help.
“How about your hair, can I help you with that?” I say excitedly, fresh off the high of meticulously folding the costumes and arranging the shoes in the bag she has long outgrown.
“No way. That’s where I draw the line, Mom!”
At least I tried …
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.