March 27th, 2013 by Karen
Thirteen years ago, my life was forever changed. For twenty three long years, I was Karen.
At 6:10 pm, on March 27th, 2000 my name became “Mom”.
It wasn’t the easiest thing I’d ever done…I’ve always told friends who have yet to have children that it’s like signing a contract without reading the small print. A thousand things you didn’t expect will irreversibly change. Sure, there’s the laundry list of the usual suspects like “You’ll never sleep in again” and “You’ll never go out”, but then there’s the weird little things like taking six years to be able to look at Mac and Cheese again without gagging because the mere smell would make me ill when I was pregnant, learning to sleep on two inches of bed because some little person had claimed the center of the bed (sideways, naturally) and don’t forget the fun things that happen when you sneeze.
For years after having kids, you’ll make bizarre choices that make sense to no one but other parents, like choosing which park to go to based solely on it’s bathroom or exhaustedly watching “Cinderella” for the 8th time in a row in as many days. Somehow though, we got through those long years of spills, Cheerios, crayons, finger paints, and tears over sharing incidents and today, my daughter turned thirteen.
Holy cow, I remember being 13…wandering around Carnegie Middle School, awkwardly not fitting in, my first “real” dance, learning to curl my hair without burning myself, learning the Fosbury Flop for track meets, going to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland as part of a field trip, being bullied and insulted by guys in my High Achiever classes who called me “Fat Cow” (I was a size 6. I still remember all their names. Jerks.) and crushing on boys in my class that I felt were out of my league. I had my first ‘real’ boyfriend at 13 (and broke up with him for stupid reasons, yet we are still friends). I met my best friend when I was 13 and she’s still my best friend. I saw my first PG-13 movie without my parents (it was a double date to see Ghost and the guy that took my BFF to the movie dropped his retainer on the theater floor. Ew.)
All this makes me both excited for my daughter as well as terrified. She’s on the cusp of so many amazing things as well as all those awful things that we want to protect our children from. Those deep yawning pits of problems and drama scare me…I know that I can’t protect her from them all, nor should I, since how we deal with adversity as adults directly correlates with how we learned to deal with such things as kids. But I can’t help but want to smooth the rough edges for her.
Thirteen is important. I know it’s important because of what’s coming next for her. It’s important to her because now she’s officially a teenager. No longer is she trapped in that no-man’s ‘tween’ land of crappy music and ill fitting clothing. She finally feels free to shed the butterflies and bubblegum pink glitter and select soulful blue hues and pick music outside of the mainstream. It’s a thrilling thing to watch.
I’m sure we’ll butt heads through the next couple years over clothes, dating, and curfews, but regardless of what’s over the horizon, I’m so proud of her and I know that she has the potential and the ability to do so many incredible things with her life. She’s sweet, funny, smart, helpful, and loving. She’s becoming a wonderful young woman.
What more could a mother ask for?