May 13, 2022
Every high school senior parent will tell you that the mood swings of joy, sadness, celebration, excitement and then back to sadness is a strange time in your life. One moment you are so sad about the last "first" experiences throughout the year and then the next moment you are so looking forward to simply writing a check for the entire year for their college meal plan so someone else can figure it out.
As a "neat and picked up" person my entire life, my counselor used to tell me "Cynthia, there is 'Cynthia' clean and then there is 'Sydney' clean." My creative, ADD, free-flowing artist daughter and her room have always been a hot button for me. My insecurity was so bad when she was young. I would think "how could I have a daughter THIS messy." I felt like a failure. "How does she NOT see the trash on her floor and the trash can right next to it?" Then middle school and high school came, I would think "Her college roommates are gonna kick her out of the dorm because I have failed as a mom!" Then there were the bobby pins...EVERYWHERE! Those are not fun to step on in the middle of night. Yeah, I am laughing at myself even as I write this.
Syd has been gone from our home for long periods of time doing summer dance intensives throughout the last five years. I am so thankful she did these for so many reasons but for me, I know what it feels like in a "small" way to not see signs of life in her room. When she would first leave, I would walk by her room and go "Ahhh - 'Cynthia' clean." Then after awhile I would be wishing for "Sydney clean." Isn't it amazing how there are things we think are gonna be so important in parenting and then they end up being the things that maybe were not quite as important as we thought?
Parenting is truly all about picking your battles. I saw early on in my parenting that I was alienating my daughter because of "my" issue and I am so thankful I got help. However, God chose me to be her mom. Giving me a creative daughter with ADD, God knew I could give her the supportive tools to help her manage her room and organize her life because of how he uniquely He made me. But any strength taken to an extreme can be a weakness and wow, that is truly exposed in parenting.
I am thinking a lot these days about what I got right and what I didn't with Sydney. Not from a place of regret, but more from a place of gratitude. Our relationship is by no means perfect but we genuinely have come together as two very different people and have a good relationship based on both our differences and our similarities. We see the world very differently. We process completely differently. I wish I was like her in so many ways and she has said, she wishes she was like me in some ways (...but not on the clean thing.) I have learned so much from her especially watching her process the world around her and I am so thankful for what she has taught me. I am not her best friend and I don't ever want to be. She only gets one mom and that's me and I am so grateful.
"Sydney clean" means she lives here. "Cynthia clean" means she doesn't. Yeah, I'll take "Sydney clean" as much as I can.