My Empty Nest

It's not always empty.

Lying

There's a little Peter Pan in all of us.

This is a flashback to 2004. It's a week before my daughter's 13th birthday, and she's suddenly decided that she doesn't want to grow up. This is what she tells me, this is what she says. I call that poor timing at its best. What's a mother to do? I'll tell you. Every night I lie down next to her on her bed (her in her pajamas under the covers, me in my clothes on top of the comforter) and tell her not to worry, that no one really ever grows up (look at me for instance), that she's got years and years left to be just a kid. OK so maybe I'm stretching the truth. Alright, you got me. I'm lying.

But that's what parents are supposed to do, right? Tell lies in the service of the truth? The truth is she is growing up and her days of carefree kid-dom are coming to a close. The truth is there is nothing anyone can do about it. Growing up just happens.

But the truth is also that growing up is grand. That life is a continuous learning curve and we can't see around the bend. Ever. We can see where we've been and where we are but we can only guess where we're going. And our guess is usually wrong.

I want to tell her all of this, that life is an adventure, a mystery, a song. But she's at the eye rolling stage. That age when no matter what you say, no matter how profound or funny or wise your insights are, your guaranteed response is a sigh and an eye-roll, punctuated by those classic words, "Oh Mom." Mom said as a three syllable word.

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

I don't want her to think that I'm deep or brilliant, that I have all that answers. First of all I'm not and I don't. Second of all this is not about me. It's about her. I just want her to not be afraid. Because the simple truth is she's not delusional, she knows she's growing up and probably wants to. She's just scared, and scared isn't any fun at all, especially not a week before your birthday.

So every night I lie on top of the covers of her bed a little longer, not until she falls asleep, just until she's run out of things to say. (Eventually that happens.) Mostly I listen. Mainly I'm there. It's not much. But she says it helps. Probably she's lying, but in the service of the truth.

The truth is she loves me and she appreciates the effort. She's smart enough to know by now I don't know much at all. Except how to lie on her bed and listen without falling asleep, which after an eighteen hour day is no small feat let me tell you. I lie still and I lie, still. The lie is everything will be alright. The funny thing is, the lie is also the truth.

Now fast forward to the present, six years later. My daughter is in college, just about grown up. Not so worried any more, well not the same worries anyway. See I told you everything would be alright.

And believe me when I tell you, that's no lie.

 

 

 

Madora Kibbe is a Christian Science practitioner and writer who lives in New York.

more...

Subscribe to My Empty Nest

Current Issue

Love & Lust

Who says marriage is where desire goes to die?