Chloe is 14. Chloe is 14. Chloe is 14.
I’ve been repeating that short factual sentence to myself for days now, getting used to the sound of it. It’s strange. Although it’s not a particularly momentous birthday, it feels like a bigger deal than it really is.
I don’t know why I feel this way. On the one hand, I’m happy. Chloe is healthy and content. She has made it through her first full year as a teenager and hasn’t yet turned into a monster. Maybe we’ll survive the years of Teenageddon after all, I muse.
But then I pause to overthink. She’s only been a teenager for one full year. She’s going to be a teenager for several more years and lots of things can happen between now and her 20th birthday.
In my habitual let’s-worry-now-about-things-that-might-or-might-not-happen-years-from-now way, I panic. “Shit. She could, in theory, go on her first date tomorrow. She’s starting high school in less than one year. She’s going to get her driver’s license in three years. She’s going to be eligible to vote in four years. She’s going to start college in 4 1/2 years. She’s going to be able to drink legally in seven years!” I have an epiphany. Parenting is not really an ideal occupation for high-strung people.
And then I mentally hit myself upside the head as Chloe’s voice echoes in my brain, “Mom! You’re stressing me out! Don’t worry so much, for crap’s sake!” My daughter is wise and those are words to live by. I remind myself to remain calm and cherish my 14-year old as she is today.
Today, Chloe is a smart, wry, headstrong, opinionated, sensitive, intellectually curious and creative girl (I refuse to call her a ‘young woman’ until she’s at least 16, if not 30).
In some ways, Chloe’s not all that different from when she was six. She’s still silly. She’s still impatient. She still seems older than her years. She still loves to read. She still prefers villains over princesses. She’s still lazy. She’s still intense. She’s still confident. She’s still too clever for her own good. She’s still contemplative.
In other ways, Chloe’s 6-year old self and her 14-year old self have nothing in common. She’s actually less moody now than she was when she was six – shocking but true. She definitely craves the privacy of her bedroom more today than when she was six. When she was six she loved nothing more than to prance around the house butt-naked. At 14, she’s much less prone to exhibitionism (although ‘modest’ is not a word I would ever use to describe her). Chloe has more friends today than she did when she was six. Her room is also much messier now than when she was six – I’m surprised the cockroaches haven’t yet discovered its charms.
Had I been able to predict the future eight years ago, I never would have envisioned Chloe as a clothes horse. Six-year old Chloe was reduced to tears almost every time we went shopping. Not anymore. Textiles are her friend. Especially denim.
Like most American teenagers, Chloe adores pop culture. She has an uncanny ability to binge-watch TV shows (her current obsession is “Bob’s Burgers”), listen to her music, create art, maintain her social media accounts (she told me today she’s created a Tumblr blog) and do her homework, often simultaneously. Chloe’s like the mythological hydra, except she’s not scary. Yet.
As a parent, I have many wishes for my girls. On the occasion of Chloe’s 14th birthday, I have but one for her.
I hope this year is even better than the last.