I've had very few "knacks" as a mother. I don't have a knack for knowing the right things to say during times of angst. I don't have a knack for making a teenager's bedroom cozy but cool. I don't have a knack for cooking, or picking clothes that Ky will actually be willing to wear (not even expensive cool stuff like a leather jacket, or a pair of Doc Martins - I always seem to choose something just a hair off) or care packages.
So I've been surprised to find myself with a knack for parenting a teenager who is verging on adult. I first noticed this with my own teenager of course, but then it spread to Ky's friends - who always seem happy to see me, confide in me, ask me for advice and tell me they miss me when running into me grocery shopping. And I noticed it while teaching undergrads - who write me emails long after their classes with me have ended, telling me they wish I taught more, or asking if I would go for coffee and catch up.
I don't try. I don't think about it much. I just sort of do my own thing, and that particular young-adult age group just seems drawn to it in a very sweet and genuine way. And because I tend to see Ky's developmental stage in all of them, this makes me happy and comfortable and more myself. The best version of me.
People my own age tell me I'm chilly, standoffish, hard to get to know and hard to get close to. I think that's probably true, and it's something I NEED to fix now that Ky's away and I'm struggling to put a life together without the constant presence of my (adult) lifelong shadow and foil. I need more peers to balance the sheer number of young adults and students in my day. But I'm really good at parenting (advising, just being in front of) teenagers and young 20-somethings, and I'm not very good at adult friendships. Something I know I need to work on.
In any case it's t-minus 4 days until Ky goes back to school, and my heart has been filled and I've gotten to laugh ridiculously and spend approximately 10x our normal grocery budget (and I don't care) and just feel like myself, the best part of myself as a mother. 4 days from now I'm back to working 2 jobs, staying late with impunity, coming back to an empty house and cooking for one, spending more time in my bedroom than any other room of the house.
I feel like this is the time to really think about how I can add to that part of my life, rather than having it turn into a waiting game for Ky's vacations. Filling the empty evenings with even more work and projects. Turning to people my own age - awkward as I seem to be with them - and learning how to be my best self with them, too.
Unlikely fashion side note: Ky has been telling me I need to go outside my conservative comfort zone of jeans, Frye harness boots, tshirts and cardigans. My winter uniform.
Therefore over the last week I have:
1. Dyed my hair "medium golden blonde" and it looks approximately 5 shades lighter than the color on the box, and....
2. Impulse purchased Revlon ColorStay Ultimate liquid lipstick in "Brilliant Bordeaux" because I had a hazy thought that perhaps my newly blonde hair and minimal brown-ish color family eye shadow could be punched up with a dramatic lip. As it turns out, this is a lip "stain" rather than a "lipstick" and though I tried it on last night and have since eaten, drank, showered, washed face twice, brushed teeth, applied chapstick, slept 7.5 hours and had an entire pot of coffee, my lips are still the most vampy dark read imaginable. I honestly don't think it's going to come off. I think I have tattooed an impulsively chosen dark red color to my lips.