Here’s the Thing: Keeping it real

Life looks different for me depending on the area we’re talking about.

Do you ever feel like a juggler? I often talk about having good balance in life, but ever since this year began it’s been a little off. It’s no longer about me juggling and dropping a ball. It’s about them falling everywhere, rolling away, and me chasing after them.

My priorities dictate how I live my life and most often my kids come first. My oldest child just started middle school and that’s on the forefront of our lives. I’m grateful she wants me directly included in her life while she goes through this new journey, but I get nervous because it’s my first time too and I’m not always a pillar of strength.

She impresses me, because I can’t say I’m brave enough to want my mother around when I go through any kind of transformation. Not because I don’t love her, but because I was raised to be so independent. I was taught to be humble, always love others, and know that I am loved. Being raised in religion didn’t hurt me, it taught me how to use spirituality as a gift to heal myself and heal others by being encouraging and real.

My daughter grows in her spirituality by being kind, always choosing to do the right thing, and being her genuine self. Being yourself is scary at that age, because you feel like if someone doesn’t like you, they don’t like the real you. Not the best feeling.

As we grow, we see that things aren’t always in our control anyways and that’s ok. So transformation can feel personal and raw. Sometimes embarrassing, sometimes liberating. I asked her why is she so comfortable with me. She told me it’s not just her transition, it’s mine too. It seems like she doesn’t want to walk through the fire alone, but the fact she invites me to hold her hand means a lot to me. So that’s what I’d like to write about.

I don’t feel like I’m old enough to have a kid in middle school, but here I am. Feeling like 33 going on 60. I wish. I’m feeling ready to retire with an empire beneath me, but for now, I pack school lunches. Plotting. Raising this preteen keeps me busy. My daughter in an inch taller than me, we share clothes and shoes, and I’m barely young enough to understand this world of technology that she is growing up in. There is an invisible barrier of cultures that I’m always studying between us. Since the gap isn’t too wide, it’s nice when we have common ground. We take pictures with each other on Snapchat, watch Youtube videos on our interests, and send emails in the middle of the day when she’s on a computer at school. We live in a rapidly changing, vibrant time.

If I wanted to call my mom when I was a kid, I’d have to find a payphone. And punch a kid for a quarter. Playing games online is beneficial, because I’m the loser that has been known to flip Monopoly boards. Kids these days can watch TED Talks or ask Google about literally anything. We had encyclopedias and Bill Nye the Science Guy. Gym class included terry cloth clothing and jumping jacks. My daughter wears way more functional (and cuter) clothes than me and did Crossfit for gym class.

What’s next?! Will she grow up to become a famous blogger? Will she invent something she explains to me five hundred times that I still don’t get? I don’t know what crazy things will be around by the time she graduates, so instead of worry … I adapt.

Here’s the thing: What can I offer her as we walk through this journey? As I think about this I remember what my best friend told me when I called her crying as my daughter entered first grade at a new school. I was such a whinebag. “How do I raise her?”

Now it feels like a lifetime ago and I still remember her answer: Be yourself. Then she explained the qualities of what that means. If I’m an honest, blunt person, that’s what my daughter gets. Raise her authentically. Be my real self with her. It gives her permission to be real with me. She can express herself honestly.

This only goes bad just about every single time. That’s the lovely miscommunication mother-daughter relationship. Seeing eye to eye feels rare, but you know what. I’d rather this be happening now and work through it, then when she’s old enough to make poor choices that stick. Which will happen, because we’re human and at my age I still struggle.

So hold my hand, daughter. I love the young lady you are becoming.

Kasi McClure enjoys being a wife and mother of two in Kenai. She can be reached at columnkasi@gmail.com.

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