By Lisa Sugarman
The more things stay the same, the more they change.
I know what you’re thinking…crazy chick’s got it backwards. It’s supposed to be, “The more things change the more they stay the same.” But the truth is, I don’t have it reversed. I’m saying it exactly how I mean it.
Why am I saying it? Because I had a revelation. I had a moment. And a pretty big one in the great scheme of moments.
It came at me from behind, like a sneaky little ninja moment. The kind that just tiptoes right up alongside you when you’re looking the other way and then slaps you across the face. The kind that makes you feel like you must’ve been asleep at the wheel because it catches you so off guard.
My moment came when I was driving Carlos, my 16 year-old daughter (She hates when I use her real name. Happy now, dear?) and her friend home from cross country practice. They were in the car making plans to go Halloween costume shopping later that night—plans that I just instinctively assumed would involve me—me being a licensed chauffeur and all.
So I was only half listening to them while they were hashing it all out, partly listening to ‘Royals’ on Kiss 108 and partly thinking about the different ways I could prepare fingerling potatoes for dinner.
Now keep in mind, it’s almost dinnertime and I’ve been driving people around all afternoon, running errands, picking people up all over town, stopping home to switch laundry—the exact same thing I’m sure you were doing. So when they started talking about driving up to the Halloween store, I just fire off the ol’, “N’Idon’tthinkso.” Because, of course, short of hitching to get up there, I know I represent the foundation of their transportation plan.
It was at that moment that they both start laughing. And that’s when I became totally confused. Because normally, when you shoot your kids’ plan down right out of the clear blue sky, the last thing they’re doing is laughing. They’re usually distraught and giving you a whole lotta ‘tude. But in my car, on that day, there was only laughter. Hence my confusion.
Now we’re going to pause here for a minute. Because I think it’s worth it, just for a second, to circle back to what I started talking about in the first place: Change. Specifically, change as it relates to the blissful teen years. (I think I just threw up in my mouth.)
I just need to say, for the record, that the split second we, as parents, settle into a relatively smooth groove of knowing what to expect from your kids, we should expect to get rear-ended by a big truckload of change. Because, for about a minute, things are predictable with our kids. And then, all of a sudden, the predictability train car derails and before you know it, you’re in a 20-car pile-up at the bottom of a ravine and you’re smack in the middle of a scene from The Fugitive. And that’s what I’m talking about here.
Back to the story.
It’s about now that the girls explain that they’re simply informing me, out of courtesy, that they’re going to the Halloween store and then getting themselves, operative word here is ‘themselves’, to their XC team dinner. To which I say, “Huh??????” And I’ll admit, now that I think back on it, I did say it in a rather dumb-sounding voice that made me seem incredibly dense. But that’s just because I was so used to the fact that they’ve always needed me, or another parent who had four wheels and a chassis, to go anywhere. And it’s been like that for like, uh, ever. That’s why it caught me totally and completely off balance that they had reached a point where they didn’t need me like that anymore.
Now I’m not gonna lie, I was a little thrown. So much so that I actually interrupted them and asked them to acknowledge the monumental event that was happening right before our eyes. I wanted them to witness, first hand, the moment when everything changed for me. The moment when, out of absolutely nowhere, my daughter hit a whole new stage of independence. Well, semi-independence, really. It was her friend that was going to be driving them, since she’s 17 and cleared for takeoff.
It was right then, at that moment, that I had my epiphany that the more things stay the same, the more they change. And the realization stung. But only for a minute. (I mean I’m not heartless.) I did have a reflective moment, complete with a real-life flashback to all the buckling and unbuckling of car seats, followed by all the schlepping around of booster seats, followed by what feels like decades of driving to and from Kingdom Come. Which, by the way, is incredibly inconvenient to get to, especially from Marblehead.
So while there was a second or two of real, legitimate nostalgia, I reconciled with it pretty quickly. Partly because I it just felt right. And partly out of necessity. You see, I’m a crier. And my kids give me tons of crap over the fact that I’ll just sometimes look at them and start to well up. I mean, Jesus, I am a mother. But they refuse to cut me slack. They nail me to the wall on it every time. So I was gonna be damned if I was gonna pop even one tear in front of them. Instead, I turned to humor to mask any of the real emotion that might have been bubbling up under the surface. I asked them to take a pause and to focus on that one, simple little moment when everything changed for me. And what did they do? They laughed at me. Again.
But that’s ok. I’m pretty good with change. That’s why, while they were laughing, I mentally did my own little end-zone dance to celebrate what this all really means: that I’m gonna have a lot more free time on my hands.
So to all my girlies, and you know who you are, slap that reserved sign on our table at Shubie’s, cause my lunch calendar’s got a whole lotta new white space to fill.