Honestly I was more afraid of her turning 16 than she'll ever know. My bff Teri is my witness, after attending a driver education seminar at the beginning of the school year I literally had a major melt down - tears and all. You see five or 10 years ago if I'd even thought about now (which seemed so very far away then) I never imagined that single parenthood would be more than a chapter in our lives, as fate would have it, it's pretty much the whole novel. As she entered her teens it crossed my mind that failing my success finding a mate, we had my Dad as our "go to" guy. A man who with the patience of Job taught many a family member, myself included, to drive. It was a forgone conclusion, to me at least, he'd do the same for his beloved Boobie. When necessary, he could hightail it to Smallville to instill fear in some horny, smelly, overly cocky teenaged boy sniffing around my gurl. Alas it was not to be, God had other plans. But somewhere between my meltdown and the many sleepless nights about other things, I earned the grace to see clearly that this lovely gurl and I have indeed come a very, very long way as a twosome - again not at all the road I envisioned but our path nonetheless and mostly unscathed to boot. So I decided to own that I did indeed have it in me to have "the talk" about what to expect from a potential suitor whether it has materialized for me or not, that trust and respect can be both tenuous and formidable concepts but must be embraced and observed by those you deem worthy of your company. That both driving and dating are steps not stops in the journey. I'm even planning to purchase a Louisville slugger to accompany me at introductions just to let the boys know this Mama bear has zero appetite for shenanigans.
Yes, I expect for her to learn to navigate the dating pools, through first kisses and heartbreak and maybe even lightly rear-end a neighbor's car while learning to parallel park (when that finally ensues). Things that at 16 seem monumental and/or devastating but in the eyes of a 46 year old are nothing but sweet! Of course last evening's soiree resembled not a hair those tricked out messes reality tv. It's not in the budget nor necessary. Those kinds of parties should be used to indulge real achievements like college graduation not some young'un just turned loose on the highway. She had a very lively party of her turned sleepover. But not fancy electronics, precious jewels nor cars larger than toy models will rear their head today. She will get something more precious and personal from me whether she realizes it today or not. Its something that I heard about 4 years before she was born and knew I wanted to repeat as soon as I heard it but until today was never quite sure when I could genuinely articulate it. My all time favorite movie is the Joy Luck Club, a story about mothers and daughters. It came on television the evening she was born. I remember vividly that I began watching it when I was interrupted by my little brown bundle and her nurse insisting we learned to latch on. Another coincidence- maybe. A story is about an Old Chinese woman (all the women in the movie are Chinese) has a swan feather and wanted to give her daughter the feather and tell her, 'This feather may look worthless, but it comes from afar and carries with it all my good intentions.' And she waited, year after year, until she could tell her daughter this in perfect American English." She died before she was able.
This post is just that feather I have literally been searching for 16 years - it carries all my love, best intentions and aspiration for limitless possibilities that the threshold of sixteen embodies. The beginning of a prayerfully phenomenal lifetime of devouring every voluptuous thing this world has to offer - Kathmandu, scuba diving, archaeologic digs, writing, meeting another Top Chef and the PotUS, UN Secy General; savoring the many and exotic notfinding herself stuck with few and familiar, being out there, being flexible, personifying joy. She needs to know and believe that in some way possibly intended, possibly serendipitous anything and everything imagined can come true. The fragrance of that thought alone is sweet enough for me.
HAPPY 16th BIRTHDAY MY WUNDERKIND