Deep breaths. Sometimes that's all there is left to do. Just deep breathing and trying not to sob. It's been a week around here. Not all bad. But the good stuff just doesn't feel big enough to keep me balanced, and I'm walking around trying to swallow one of those obnoxious lumps in my throat. Not wanting to be a mopey mother but also wanting nothing more than to crawl back into bed for the rest of the day.
Haley and a friend—a very good friend, a besties-forever kind of friend—had an enormous blowup last week and are now not talking to each other. Watching this happen, and trying to give advice to my daughter, and thinking about adolescence and boys and friends and who you can trust in your life has brought up a whole bunch of my own old issues. Interestingly enough, it also feels like I have learned some things about my teenaged self as all of this has gone down. (Nothing like 20-years-too-late epiphanies!) I had forgotten how intense and consuming that first-love feeling is, how it can drive you to do illogical things, and how its rejection creates all sorts of negative energy. Haley's friend is turning that negative energy towards Haley—which is probably healthier than what I did, which was turn it all inward, towards myself, but still: the destruction hasn't been pretty.
I keep thinking about how hard I try, on Sundays, to make stuff like Isaiah interesting when I teach the 14- and 15-year-old class, and how while it is important to understand and know the scriptures, maybe there is something more we need to be teaching our teenagers. It's a pretty big leap from the Old Testament to self respect, and maybe right now what they need more of is the self respect. I know all too well how their decisions now will affect so much of their future lives and I wish I could be more competent at helping them shape something strong.
Since I discovered Haley was a girl, I have worked hard at discovering ways to help her know that she can be strong on her own, that she doesn't need a boyfriend to define her happiness, and that she needs to understand herself before she can be happy in a relationship. Especially as she's gotten older. As she has handled this experience with her friend I have seen that perhaps this one lesson is something she has internalized. I think—I think—that she gets it just a little bit. Of course, it could also be that she just hasn't been hit hard yet by the first-love feeling, but I hope that even when she is, she'll not forget. What she does know for certain is that friends should be more important than boys, especially when you're fifteen, and I really, really wish her friend knew that, too.
Being a teenager is hard—you get reminded of that when you have your own teenagers. There is so much hurt in the world and so little that we moms can do about it. Toss in family dynamics and the constant tearing that is mother-teenage-daughter relationships and yeah: I have found myself thinking "just breathe" quite often this week, overcome by things I thought I had left behind, and by the reminder of just how swiftly my children have grown, and by unexpected emotional complications (who knew that this girl I've tried to help and take care of would turn so swiftly, and how that turning would make Haley miserable and me miserable about her misery and sad on my own and plus I still feel sorry for the friend, too, who is obviously hurting and it's like trying to bash away a brick wall with a toothpick—moving beyond this seems impossible).
Just breathe. Through the aching and the memories and the disappointment. What else is there? Breathing, and staying awake, and being here for when she might need me.