I wish I had all the answers. In fact, I was sure at 41 years old that I'd have answers to just about any question or be prepared to tackle any situation my kids came up against. And when they were toddlers and pre-schoolers and even early on in grammar school, that is what I did. I was that mom I thought they needed -- I could anticipate and swoop in to catch them before their proverbial fall. If they cried; I wiped away their tears, kissed their heads and told them it was all going to be OK. I figured the tough parts of their tweendom and teendom and all those growing pains were going to be as easy to navigate and kiss away as they were back in the early days. I believed that giving them a foundation of complete security -- a place where venting, screaming and feeling safe to be completely vulnerable, raw and exposed would be all they would ultimately need to function and be successful outside the confines of our familial walls.
But this year, I got thrown a curve ball. My daughter found herself in the midst of a social situation that Supermom could not swoop in and fix. Supermom couldn't remove her from the program. Supermom couldn't kiss it all away. Supermom had to be OK with not being Supermom.
I won't go into specifics, because now that my daughter is a teenager, she does not want her experiences and life written about without her direct consent, though she agreed to let me share a snippet of one after many long, heart-wrenching conversations we've had on navigating the murky waters of female friendships. In the middle of one of our talks, she said, "Mommy you know what I realized? It's OK if I don't have a best friend, because I am my own best friend."
And while I know deep in the center of my heart that it's good that she feels comfortable and confident that she can go it alone, it makes me feel so sad that this lesson (which we all learn at some point) came this soon. And while it is true that being comfortable in your own skin is a gift and of course a process that will be a life-long journey for my daughter, in some ways, it makes me sad that I can't wish this away -- and/or create a magical friend for her that she can depend on at least some of the time.
There are a million ways I want to fix this. But I don't. I take off my Supermom cape and all I tell her say is, "I love you. You make me so proud. There is good and there is bad in this world and I know you will find your tribe, you will find a partner and ultimately the most important relationship you will have is with yourself."
I can't lie; I really want to put that cape on and fly her away from any pain, but I know in doing so, I am not allowing her to experience what she needs to. So I hug her and kiss her and tell her it's all going to be OK, even if it isn't OK right now, in this moment.
This post originally appeared on The Staten Island Family