My youngest daughter turned sixteen yesterday. After already surviving her two older sisters, I think I have mellowed quite a bit and this is a good thing. Teaching them how to drive and how to be disciplined enough to go to school, keep up with their studies, and participate in a few extra-curricular programs such as sports or fine arts can be taxing on a mother-daughter relationship. Throw into that their growing independence and the strain can be almost unbearable. And clearly, I have mellowed or I have gotten better at being a mother of teenagers because it has certainly become easier.
I remember being sixteen, myself. I remember learning to drive and my father having an incredible amount of patience as he taught me the in's and out's driving a stick-shift, God bless him. I remember getting my first real job - you know, the first time the government got their hands on "my" hard-earned money? I remember the angst of trying to break away from my parents; developing my own line of thinking was tortuous. I remember falling in love for the first time and the ensuing heartbreak. Sixteen is a wondrous time and I would never go back, unless I could go back knowing what I know now.
Imagine going back to the first "real" job you ever held, knowing what you now know. I worked at a ladies' apparel shop called Stuart's. Sadly, most of my paycheck went right back into the store - as a young woman, it was very difficult to resist the urge to buy clothing whenever I had a little extra cash. But if I went back, knowing what I know now? I'd be managing that store and we would have the best quarter ever. That particular store has since long closed, as have most of the surrounding stores, except the K-Mart down the road a piece.
If only? A question I have often posed when reflecting on my past life, past work, and past loves. Glad to be where I am now, knowing what I know now. Maybe we should celebrate a coming of age every sixteen years? If that were the case, I will be celebrating my third coming of age birthday in a few weeks. Taking with me what I have learned, and making my next sixteen the best. Good to know and good to share with my daughter as she faces three more years of high school and the rest of her life. "It only gets better..."
Yes, we face struggles and yes, there have been difficult times, and there will be more, to be sure. But every day that passes, our knowledge and level of experience deepens. I like to think of my "life" as a resume. Everything that happens, every triumph I conquer, every goal I reach puts me in a different wage bracket, increases my level of experience, expands my skill set, and proves I can do the job of life, and I'm darn good at it.
I guess I'm just wondering who I go to for a raise?
Rayanne, everytime I read your pieces, I am reminded of how the "real" game of Life® works. I still have 2 years before I enter the "third" round of sixteen, and for what I have seen it breaks down as follows- years 1-16 is education by parents and community, Years 17-32 is when you attend the "School of Hard Knocks"® where the real learning about life begins; then in the third round, you try to pass the knowledge to the next generation who feel you don't have the "smarts" you claim to profess, and the endless head banging/ aspirin recovery begins. When does it become fun? the minute you realize you will continue to learn and the answers are not always readily available. When that happens....then the ride becomes more interesting....Hang on- as the fun is just beginning