It is hard to believe that in just another 365 days, I will be the parent of an adult child. I wouldn’t say that I don’t feel like an adult, but I don’t feel like an adult of long enough standing to have grown my own from scratch.
Of course the adult bit is kind of relative, next year she will legally be an adult but for all intensive purposes*, she is one already at 17. She still asks me things all the time but her questions are not (normally) the annoying, unanswerable, existential-rhetorical type stuff that younger children ask and yet still expect you to be able to answer. Her curiosity for information is fun, because we can discuss interesting things like the four pronged nature of an echidna’s penis and then look up pictures of these fascinating things together.
I have spent a lot of time with her over the last couple of years, more than I would have if she hadn’t inherited the clumsy genes and managed to slip over in a tiny shower and set off a health adventure of huge proportions. While I would never be glad that she’s had to deal with all that she has, I am aware that it provided opportunity for developing closeness between us that probably would not have happened otherwise.
She’s changed greatly over the course of this adventure. A certain amount of maturing is of course pretty normal, but I think that she has a maturity and appreciation of certain aspects of life far beyond that of her same-age peers because of how she’s struggled and learned to thrive despite the pain. In trying to help her do this I have also had to reach deeply and share some of the darker parts of myself that I don’t usually like to put on display, so that we could connect and move forward. I think that in some ways she has also seen parts of my struggle that Daniel and my mum don’t always see, the moments when I am home by myself and feeling like everything is so very heavy and I am not strong enough. And it has been beneficial to both of us. I have had more practice than she has at keeping going when things are hard and so she has seen that you can keep going and be happy even with shit circumstances going on. Wanting to continue to set that example for her has in turn given me an extra push on hard days to be the best and do the best that I can when I really would rather lay down and give up.
It turns out that we have a lot of things in common. There’s a lot of overlap in our senses of humour. I do share that with my mother to a degree as well but I think that there are times when she likes a more mature (mature as in less puerile, not as in adult in nature) humour and there’s a lot of the silly stuff that Stephanie and I both appreciate that might not tickle my mum. Like me she takes great amusement in the brand of Australia themed humour and the exaggerated Aussie stereotype of Australian culture: the casual, self- and mate-deprecating person who rides kangaroos and wrangles Drop Bears and says “cunt” a lot.
Sometimes when my mum is telling people about me she gets this look on her face when she is talking about something cool I have done or whatever. And I am a bit embarrassed because what she is describing does not feel like it is on the same level of me as a person. Like.. yes, I’m a nice person and I try to do good things, but I’m not a fucking saint or whatever. But now I kind of understand that look because it is how I feel like I must look when I am thinking or talking about Stephanie and how proud I am that I had something to do with who she is. Not that this means I am not proud of my other children, because I am.. it’s just different. While I think that ideally all people should remain in a “work of progress” type of state, even as adults, it’s different in that at a certain point it becomes more about improvement and refinement of the already established base. Stephanie is a complete person who knows what she likes and what she believes in and I think she’s pretty great. She welcomes my input and my opinions because she wants them, not because she is obligated because I am her parent. (Perhaps I just appreciate this because with the other two it is still often a matter of “ugh, you’re old and uncool and I don’t need your opinion or the benefit of lessons you have learned.”) The cool kid likes me!
• I did that on purpose. She likes memes and dislikes when people don’t know how to word properly, so I think she will appreciate this fine humour.