Monday, October 3, 2011

17 again

I poignantly remember my teenage years: the angst and the drama, the slammed doors and the prolific tears, the heartwrenching poetry and the acute knowledge that NO ONE understood me. And I poignantly remember growing out of it and never wanting to return. Little did I know, it would revisit me daily in the form of my daughter. (The sins of the mother and all that...)

Colleen at age 2.  Our curls were the same - but that's it!
 Colleen and I could not be more different. I, tenacious, willing and eager to confront a problem, boisterous and dramatic. She, quiet and brooding, private and tight-lipped, measured and yes, dramatic in her way. I, 4' 10", the darkness of my Italian roots shared with the impishness of my Irish ones. She, 5' 7", only proof of her Irishness evident with her reddish hair and pale skin. As my dads childhood neighbors would say, "Honey and brown sugar versus peaches and cream."

I shared with Colleen earlier this summer that I had been praying a specific prayer for her each day: That she learn one day it's easier to admit you're wrong and ask forgiveness than to obstinately hold on to pride; to receive someone's forgiveness and compassion and appreciate that is a blessed experience; to realize that vulnerability is not a sign of weakness but a confirmation that you're open to letting others in.
Colleen and I today

The other night we were discussing her new school year, her classes, her grades, my expectations and her results. As often happens, a calm conversation turned into a mildly heated confrontation. For once, I dropped my line of inquiry and turned to my work on the computer. "Choose your battles," I told myself. She got up and left the room.

Ten minutes later she returned and tearfully said, "Mama, I'm so sorry that I was disrepectful. I'm just stressed about getting used to my new classes and I dropped the ball. You were right - the things you talked about were my responsibility. I'm just overwhelmed."

I'm sure the look of shock registered on my face. You see, I can never remember a time when my daughter has voluntarily apologized for anything - and it was the answer to my summer prayers. All of my years of parental self-doubt dissolved as I realized she actually had been listening, absorbing and maturing. I looked on her in that moment with compassion and intense pride.

I held out my arms to her and she readily came to me, collapsing on my shoulder in a mix of relief and release, and cried for a few minutes. When we pulled apart, I cupped her face in my hands and said, "I don't care about the grades. That you just came to me and initiated an apology was huge." Embarassed, she looked away. "Look at me," I hollered..."HUGE!!!" She burst out laughing and we laughed together, had a great talk about her friends and boys, her pride in her accomplishments and her misgivings about the future.

What a great lesson for me. God may not always answer my prayers in MY timeline. Often there are others involved in the process who have got be ready. He's helping make them ready - sometimes through me and sometimes through their own process - but either way, it's HIS timeline to follow. And I just have to trust and keep praying my prayers so when the time is right, He will grace me with His gifts.

So thanks, God, for my daughter. But thank ya' Jesus that I don't have to be a teenager again!!

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