Wow, three months since my last post. A lot has happened.
It is funny how life is in a constant state of flux. Nothing ever stays the same. It is a lesson that I have been slow to learn and I still struggle to accept. Today, I am having to cope with yet another major change in my life. Our 18 year DD is ‘leaving home’. I put the words in inverted commas because she isn’t really leaving home in the “this is it, I now have a new address” sense. Rather, she has a new boyfriend and now spends more time at his house than she does at home.
I am surfing unfamiliar territory here. My darling hubby is totally accepting of the situation, citing that this is natural and exactly what should happen. I am less accepting of this situation. As if the loss of my mom was not enough, I feel a deep sense of loss for my daughter as well. I know that technically she still lives with us, but we recently went on a two week holiday, and she opted not to come with us. Then when we returned she opted to stay with her boyfriend and told us that she would see us “sometime on the weekend”. Ridiculously, I have taken this totally personally.
My mom was my best, and at times, my only friend. I struggle to make friends largely because I am a bit of a homely hermit and tend to stay indoors a lot (plonking away on my computer or surfing the net on my insatiable quest for information). When I lived in the UK, my mom and I would meet up three or four times a week and talk and window shop for hours (I have mentioned this before). I guess my expectation was that my relationship with my daughter would be the same. I had this idea that she would want to spend time with me and we would talk for hours on end laughing and revelling in each others company. Romanticised, hey? But our relationship is nothing like it. Our DD is head strong and quite independent (except when it comes to getting a job and earning her own money, but more of that another time). For the last two and a half years at least her friends have been far more important to her than her family. I have no way of knowing if this is normal. I never had a huge circle of friends and up until the age of 38 stayed very close to my parents and in particular my mom. I do remember my boyfriend being more important to me than my parents and lying to them to be with him when they forbid it – does that count?
My husband says that it is perfectly normal and a good indication that we have done a good job. She feels confident enough to go out into the world and be her own person. I still worry and I am not enjoying this new change that is settling on our family. Our son is now essentially an only child (which, frankly, he seems to be enjoying just a bit too much). I feel like I am going through an empty nest syndrome without all of my children having left home!
We have yet to meet the boyfriend, but when I speak to her on the phone, she is elated with him. He seems to tick all the right boxes – good education, employed, independent – but that doesn’t mean anything really, does it? I just wonder if I am being over protective or, dare I say it, selfish. The last two years have been difficult for her and I. I am strong and quite volatile. I was brought up fearing the wrath of my father, and fear him I did. At times I would “lose it” and apply the same tactic with her, especially when I felt disrespected by her but she would respond by being more head strong and simply doing her own thing. It created a huge rift between us. My mom said that it was karma because I was the same when I was her age but I don’t remember being quite so headstrong. Maybe I was, I don’t know.
The upshot is that I don’t want her to leave home. I want her to stay a little longer so we can become friends and mend what I perceive to be the rift. I feel desperate, like a child. She is the mature one – independent, knows her own mind. I have never had that confidence. I’ve always second guessed myself – even now as my daughter prepares to venture into the world, I am wondering if I have done a good enough job and feeling wounded by the fact that my 18 year old doesn’t want to spend more time with her 42 year old mother.
Of course, as I am writing this, I realise just how full of self pity I am and how much “it’s all about me” I have become. I have probably been this way for at least five years, but no doubt longer. Our daughter is safe, well and happy. Why can I not be happy for her and for the fact that we have brought her up to know her own mind? Because in my mind, I expected her to fill the role that I filled for my mom – as friend and confidante. You see, I am realising with me that it is all about expectations, of which I seem to have many, and that when those expectations are not met, and they rarely are, I am almost devastated. It takes me a long while to adjust course and be happy with the new direction as it were.
I am reading a lot about living outside of oneself. Living to do for others rather than concentrating on what is going ‘wrong’ in one’s life – the perfect antidote to self pity. I think that I realise that I have lived a great deal of my life lamenting what has not gone according to my expectations and that I need to start living outside of myself. It is hard for a person that is very introspective, rarely ventures out except to work and shop and is used to getting her own way to accept this, but accept this I must. At the age of 18 my daughter is brave and strong and able to face the world and 42 years into my life, I must do the same.