Monday, December 10, 2007

first date

Teenage Daughter went on her first date! It feels just like yesterday that I dressed now Teenage Daughter in her purple little snowsuit and strapped her into the car seat. And now she went on a date!
On Friday she asked if we could drop her off at the movies on Sunday afternoon. She wanted to see “The Golden Compass” with Tall Guy. I have never met Tall Guy, but his name has been mentioned occasionally when Teenage Daughter talks about school. I asked what Tall Guy’s parents did, and was relieved when I heard the dad is a prof. What does that say about me? That I am an educational snob? That I trust profs entirely? I want to scream NO NO NO, but she is my daughter and I just need to know!!! But I know, she is fourteen after all, and there were also other kids. I did not drop her off out of fear to get out of the car and give in to my curiosity. Most Special Spouse took her to the movies, and picked her up. Did I manage to make a fool of myself? Of course! Before Teenage Daughter left, I told her not to do anything she did not want to do, and she just replied: “Mama, I am not stupid!” I apologized right away. After Teenage Daughter and Most Special Spouse returned, I asked TD how the movie was (“great”) and MSS if he had seen Tall Guy, but the only info I got was that Tall Guy is tall.
I have to say that Teenage Daughter is blessed with good looks. She is also tall, and I do not know how often people have told me - in her presence - how beautiful she is (“she should be a model”), and I am left standing, not sure what to say to a perfect stranger in the Target sock section – yes, we worked very hard? So she is tall and beautiful, and it was a matter of time when this first date would come around. Maybe if this whole thing would not have such a serious word / concept. In countries over there the concept of ‘date’ is alien, even though the English word is now used more and more. You go out in a group, then maybe alone with someone, but everything is more relaxed, not so much pressure as with a date. I am trusting Teenage Daughter. She is an only child and extremely independent and mature, but still, her brain is only fourteen. And if you wish to read more the about brain of a teenager and get scared, just read Inside the Teenage Brain, a Frontline interview about a study on the teenage brain.

And then I am never sure with my “mothering skills.” Since my mother died when I was five I do not have a natural model. Several years ago appeared Hope Edelman’s Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss which I came across last year. I only recently learned to go to this dark place in my soul. The book is fine, but I did not experience this revelation other women expressed about the book. Edelman lost her mother when she was seventeen, and that is tough. The loss of the mother is tough no matter how old you are. But the experiences of most women in the book did not speak so much to me, since they knew and remember their mother. I could relate much better to The Loss That Is Forever: The Lifelong Impact of the Early Death of a Mother or Father by Maxine Harris since it addresses the void that cannot be filled even with memories. Hope Edelman has now a new book Motherless Mothers: How Mother Loss Shapes the Parents We Become. I probably should read it, but I think I already know what I will find, that motherless mothers protect their family, always with the possible loss in mind you wish to spare your own child. It is so exhausting to go this dark place in the soul, but maybe I need to read the book just for reassurance, that is fine to feel insecure, that there are no perfect mothers, and that you would not even like to be a perfect mother! Imagine the legacy for the child – mother did always and everything best, you are doomed to fail!

And speaking of dark places in the soul: In one of my courses we also had read The Sorrows of Young Werther by Goethe. It turns out that one of my students had likewise experienced unrequited love like Werther. He told me today after the final that he had attempted suicide when he was fourteen years old and showed me the scars on his wrist. Fourteen – what a vulnerable age. I am glad he did not succeed.

Time to think of eight things that make me happy...

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