This is for the moms who are missing their teenagers.
Yesterday, I told my daughter I missed her when she was standing not five feet away from me in our kitchen. I’d been hit by a wave of longing for her while I was eating chicken tenders, of all things.
I’d remembered how, when this second and last baby was younger and we spent a lot of time together running errands in between her big sister’s practices and classes and events, we’d often pick up a couple pieces of chicken from the grocery store deli counter because they provided some on-the-go protein for my girl who isn’t otherwise a big meat-eater. For years, I had chicken-tender shrapnel in the crevices of my minivan.
I thought about all this when I was driving home, eating my portable lunch, and so when my daughter stopped by after school for what we refer to as her layover before dance, I told her, “I miss you.” She said, “I miss you, too,” without requiring explanation.
Oh, mama, maybe you’re missing your teen who just started driving, and while it’s mostly fabulous not to be a full-time chauffeur anymore, you have given up car conversations or at least the comfort of being in the same space at the same time on a regular basis.
Maybe you’re missing a teen who has pulled away from you.
Maybe you’re missing a teen who has run away from you.
Maybe you’re missing a teen who has changed so much they seem like a stranger.
Maybe you’re missing a teen who is just so busy with good things they’re rarely home.
Maybe you’re missing a teen whose heart—or a big piece of it, anyway–now belongs to a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Maybe you’re missing a teen who hasn’t done any of these things but might be getting ready to, and you’re missing them ahead of time.
We want to give this missing a voice and listen between the lines to what it’s saying. It speaks of relationship and connection. It speaks of a history together. It speaks of shared memories. It speaks of future memories to be made. Loudest of all, it speaks of love.
Most days, I’m truly glad I miss my teenager, because it means there’s so much good to miss. I dare not take this for granted. It’s good from our shared yesterdays (chicken tender shrapnel and all). It’s good that makes me look forward to what we might share tomorrow.
So while I loosen my grip on what was, I’m holding on tight to the hope of what might be. I don’t want to miss any of it.