A couple weeks ago my 16-year-old daughter proposed her birthday present to me: to have her boyfriend over for dinner.
Now, you may scoff "what a self-centered teenage thing to do," but consider the backstory....I had been encouraging her for months to have this fella over more. They had been dating for at least five months (though there was some passionate first love drama a couple years back) and she was always going to his house to hang with his family and watch movies. They were obviously the chosen ones. I was the stepmother.
Seriously though, I had myself believing "doesn't every teenager want to have their significant other over all the time to hang out with their parents?"
But for whatever reason, this she did. This was the second time the young man with the deep voice and swagger had been to our house (at least that I know of), and while a boyfriend of few words, he was polite and treated my daughter with respect and answered my allowed three questions:
Are you planning on going back to school?
What are you interested in studying?
Do you still think about playing baseball?
"I have no idea really."
He was obliging. She was highly annoyed.
Still, they ate the pizza I had picked up along with the salad her Dad had made. We made small talk and then they went back to her room (yes we even let her close the door now though she doesn't see the point since her bedroom is off the kitchen and we can "hear everything." Reverse psychology? Perhaps).
Still, it was a lovely birthday present for me, the Mom who just wants to be loved. To be cool. The Mom with the house where all the kids like to hang out and watch movies and eat popcorn; the one they want to share their problems with and cry with when their home life isn't working out...or not.
I have recently come to the conclusion that I have to let my kids live their own lives. Now almost 20 and 17, I'm happy my kids are independent. If I embarrass them, score for me! My job is not to have them like me but to provide them with direction and self-sufficiency skills -- right? Right?
My wish for my kids used to be "if they are happy and can support themselves that is all I wish for."
Today a friend told me his cousin once told him, "If my kids don't go to prison then I will have succeeded as a parent."
I'd like to think my bar is a little higher than that, but if my birthday present is to hang out with my kid and the boy she loves so be it.
Maybe next year they'll take me bowling!