You had been told that this would happen. This ever-increasing independence. The wings starting to flap. You’d read about it in books. You’d been told, many, many times by all the people who came before you but still, for you, you weren’t quite ready.
No, you’re still back in preschool when she’d cry and call out for you as you turned to leave and you’d have to practically run to the car so she couldn’t see that you were crying too. Or in the first grade when you were the only mother still walking your daughter to her classroom everyday because she didn’t want to leave you. Or, in the third grade, when you skipped out of town for a romantic weekend with the Rooster, and your daughter, back at home, laid photos of you across her bed every night and cried because she missed you so.
And now, when you are with her, her thoughts are a million miles away. She may be looking at you but she’s not really seeing you. No, she’s thinking about what he said or she said. Who’s status update is coming in next on which device. What she’s doing Saturday night.
And you get it. You really do. Because, you were once that 14-year-old girl too. And what she’s doing and experiencing right now is fun. It’s exciting. It’s all the things she should be doing. You remember.
And yet, for the Mom at home, it can be stressful. This increasing independence. This letting go of control. And, it can also be a little wistful because if you are perfectly honest with yourself…it’s not the late hours, the constant texting, or the teenage drama that are the sole source of your angst, no, it’s that you miss her. Miss spending time with her. Real time. When her mind isn’t far, far away. And, you miss her, wanting to spend time with you, too.
You find yourself seeking advice from a very, wise woman, one who knows your own 14-year-old self better than most anyone. You tell her the “I miss her”, the “it’s stressful,” the “she’s never here,” and this wise women agrees with you, “Yes, it’s hard.” Then, she looks deeply into your eyes, a little smile on her lips, and she tells you what she’s always told you about the teenage years, “Just get ‘em through it.”
This wise woman, not being one for pity parties, snaps you right out of yours because, really, she’s right. What else is there to be done than to just “get ‘em through it.”
You find yourself taking a deep breath, knowing that she’s right, and hoping you can do as good of job as she did.
To soothe yourself, you turn to cooking. Your daughter’s thoughts may be far away, and she may want to do anything besides stay home on a Friday night, but she still has to eat. And one of the things you love best about her is that she’ll eat whatever you cook, and thank you, genuinely, when she’s done.
Before a month ago, you’d never actually made homemade meatballs. No. And now, here you are, reaching for that Turkey Bacon Meatballs recipe for a second time.
You set your wedding ring to the side, and dive into the bowl of meat and egg and breadcrumbs, mixing it all together. With your still messy hands, you form the mixture into golf balls and place each one on a cookie sheet.
While you work, you think about your hands in the mess. About how not using your hands would make the process twice as long. About how very tactile it is to make meatballs.
When your daughter was little she loved to feel different kinds of fabric. She was a magnet for sensory tables. The play dough station. Finger painting. And even now, she would be right at home in a country full of people that eat with their fingers.
Your tall, beautiful daughter breezes through the kitchen, moments before you call everyone to the table, and asks, “What are we having for dinner?”
“Those turkey and bacon meatballs with spaghetti.”
“Yum! I love those.”
She grabs herself a bowl and dishes up.
She stays at the table long enough to eat her dinner and share a few snippets of her day and then, she’s off.
And you know it’s brief. This small bit of her undivided attention. But you’ll take it.
Knowing that she still needs you for something, even if it’s meatballs, is somehow comforting.
Would love to know how you comfort yourself, or how you imagine you would comfort yourself, as your kids, or kids you are close to, grow more independent in preparation for leaving the nest. Those of you who have already been through the whole process, any thoughts? You know, just in case I rejoin the pity-party.
|Turkey and Bacon Meatballs||
- 1 med onion, coarsely chopped
- 6-8 sliced of bacon, cooked and chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic peeled and minced
- 2 pounds ground turkey
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ c bread crumbs
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- marinara sauce
- Turn on your broiler.
- In a food processor, combine your onion, cooked bacon, and garlic; pulse until finely chopped but not so long that the mixture turns to mush.
- Transfer to a medium bowl. Add your turkey, cheese, bread crumbs, eggs, salt and pepper. Mix gently to combine.
- Line a cookie sheet or broiler-proof pan with foil. Form the meat mixture into 1-inch balls, and place on pan.
- Broil, turning once, until cooked 10-12 minutes.
- Cook your pasta according to the directions and heat up your marinara sauce.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and dig in!
- Yield: Two dinners for a family of five.
La Pomme Elsewhere:
The kind folks up at Calgary’s Child Magazine included my article, Cabin Fever Busters – 6 Creative and Entertaining Days Sure to be a Hit with Kids of All ages, in their Jan/Feb 2012 issue, on page 35…should that interest you.