My older daughter went off to camp a kid and came back a teenager. I like to think I'm pretty chilled as a mother and not at all like the uptight, high-anxiety parents described in a recent New York Times story:
"Their parents, meanwhile, were bombarding the camp with calls: one wanted help arranging private guitar lessons for her daughter, another did not like the sound of her child’s voice during a recent conversation, and a third needed to know — preferably today — which of her daughter’s four varieties of vitamins had run out. All before lunch."
I did note, however. that beneath the "dudes" and "bros" that punctuated my daughter's speech upon her return, was a bubbling excitement: she had finally and truly discovered boys. Which is cool, I suppose. as long as it doesn't go past gigly SMSs and heavily chaperoned socials. For the moment.
Which doesn't make me that much different from my own mother. Except that there's much more permissiveness now in the media than there was when I was growing up. In my day virginity until marriage was glorified; today, 16 year old girls ask their mothers for boob-jobs as graduation presents. And some parents, idiots that they are, actually say yes.
When my daughter asked me not too long ago at what age she should lose her virginity, the sheltered Catholic Filipina automatically replied, "when you get married." Which, to be honest is a load of crock and certainly did not happen to me. I don't tend to regret a lot of things in life. Live and learn, I believe. Even my empty marriage I don't regret because without it I would never have had my beautiful daughters. Better the sperm bank you know, I rationalized. Though as a sperm bank it turned out to be... well, never mind...
Nevertheless, my mother, of all people, reminded me, to my horror, to whom I'd lost my virginity, at the rather advanced age of 22. THAT, I definitely and unequivocally regret...
My mother brought it up on the occasion of my birthday, which I celebrated fittingly enough, with the man. It was the first time in, hmmm, let's see - 12 years? - that I didn't wake up on the morning of my birthday next to my own flesh and blood or someone I was bound to by law.
So my mom calls, around 10 am Swiss time, which was 4 pm Manila time.
"So," she says, after greeting me, "you're with your boyfriend? Are you in bed with him?"
"Mom," I reply, "um, yes. What did you think? You do realize that I'm 45 years old today."
"You can't be 45," she shoots back. "Because I'm 45!"
Yes, Mom, whatever. Rage, rage against the graying of time. Still, it's fantastic, I think, that my mom and I can have conversations like this. I do spare her the details though.
Much is made of mothers being best friends with their daughters, but at the end of the day I truly believe mothers should be mothers to their children. I don't expect my own daughters to tell me everything. But I do hope they will tell me everything that matters.