Parenting is hard.
My kid, the one to whom the word 'hard' is not usually applied, is having a hard time. She is 16. 16 is hard. What she's going through are her own things, and none of them are tragic, and none of them are horrendous, and none of them anything close to the sort of shit that too many other 16-year-olds (or 26-year-olds, or 56-year-olds) deal with daily. If I told you--if I thought it was appropriate to tell you--you'd scoff at me. Some of you already have. But for her, it's hard. She's having a hard time.
And that. That kills me. Which is why parenting is hard. Uniquely hard, even. Because I can't fix it. I want to. I can't. Not just shouldn't (which, yeah, shouldn't, because this person is getting closer and closer to ready-to-launch), but can't. I can't fix it, but everything in me wants to believe I can help. Or that I can try to help.
Did I mention parenting is hard? Because here's what makes it even harder. That trying to help part. That makes it even harder. Because I can feel it, the ways in which my trying isn't helping, and maybe is even hurting. I can feel myself flailing. I can see the boundaries, the places where I should stop. And then I don't. I want to, I want to say, "I trust you. You don't need to tell me anything or do anything or say anything." I want to say, "This really isn't such a big deal. It's OK." And I do. But then I think about some article or another, about a tragic ending for some child or another in which a parent inevitably says, "I never thought it would be my kid," and says, "If only I had gotten more involved," and suddenly there I am, asking a question that implies she DOES have to do or say something, or lay down a law that implies it really IS a big deal, or generally imply that I don't approve…of her choices, of her. I end a hug with a lecture. I go back into a room where I'm probably not wanted. I can't shut the fuck up, no matter how much I tell myself to do so.
I approve. I adore her. I just want to help. I don't want to destroy the incredible person she is, but I also don't want to be quoted in a newspaper article or on my blog here saying, "If only I had gotten more involved." I don't want to have to live with having ignored some kind of warning sign. I also don't want to have to live with having crushed my kid's sense of self or her joy or her passion.
And all this from 'just a hard time,' and not from tragic or horrendous or the shit that too many other 16-year-olds deal with daily.
Parenting is hard. I'm not sure I'm up to it. Actually, today, I'm sure I'm not.