*Side Note on the title: There is this cooking series on Slate.com that drives me batty because it’s so sanctimonious in a smug hipster way. Every article is entitled something like, “You’re doing it wrong: Pancakes,” or, “You’re doing it wrong: Boiling Water,” or “You’re doing it wrong: Life.”
“Everyone keeps saying that we’re more like sisters than mother and daughter.”
“You mean we look like sisters, or…”
“No, that we are sisters.”
“Well, that’s no good. That’s no good at all.”
“Because I’m your mother, not your sister.”
I can see why the perception is there. I used to have an almost visceral negative reaction to 13-year-old girls. I found them to be odious, nasty, hateful things. I dreaded when my own daughter would reach that age. But with Ms. B., I’ve been having more fun than I ever have had as her mother. We share wardrobes and jewelry. We find the same things funny. I’m young enough that I still easily follow her slang and pop culture references. We text each other little inside jokes.
I don’t know how to say this without it sounding wrong: I genuinely like Ms. B., as a human being, not as my daughter. Gah. That sounds awful. I don’t know how to say it. A mother loves her children unconditionally. And I do love Ms. B. unconditionally. But there’s also the non-mother part of me that thinks of Ms. B., “I kinda like hanging out with that person. She’s pretty funny and cool.” Does that make any sense? I’m rambling.
I’m probably doing it all wrong. Because I’m not her sister. I’m her mother. I’m not a friend, I’m an authority figure. And Ms. B.’s great. She’s surprisingly low-drama and, aside from a pesky streak of laziness when it comes to her homework, gets in very little trouble. But what happens when she does get in trouble? She won’t take discipline from her sister very seriously. It’s why I need to remember that I’m her mom.
I recently had the horrifying realization that if Ms. B. were me, she would be pregnant a mere five years from now. I kind of want to vomit just thinking it again here. I don’t think a single realization has ever before brought home for me just. how. young. I was when I had Ms. B. Five years? Ms. B. will still be a child. I was a child. In some respects, Ms. B. and I grew up together.
Is that why I have this struggle? Do all teen moms with daughters, even subconsciously, have to give themselves a ‘you are their mom, not their sibling’ pep-talk? Because even though we are mother and daughter, we’re also pretty close in age? Or do all parents have a moment when they are surprised to realize their kid is actually turning from a kid you have to remind to wipe their own nose into a likable young adult you actually enjoy hanging out with?