Your door is always closed, never exposing your feelings to me.

I ask questions you don’t want to answerI worry I am losing you. 

You, the teenager.

I. the stereotypical mean mother—the one I never wanted to be, but have somehow become.

Sometimes I linger just outside your room, my hand ready to knock, bracing my heart against how annoyed I know you will be, thinking you’ll roll your eyes, or sigh, “Geez, Mom, I just need a little space”

So I brace myself for rejection. 

Or I walk away, not knowing how to say what I am feeling, worrying I will say it in a way you won’t understand.

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I take your phone. 

I drone on and on with lectures you don’t want to hear.

I ask you for time with me when it’s the last thing you want.

I can feel you slipping.

But I just keep gripping . . . tighter . . . and tighter, wondering if I will ever get you back.

I suppose it’s normal—me setting limits, you wanting to escape

No longer your caped superwoman, I have lost my status. You no longer look at me like I can save the world because you have realized that I can’t. 

And so have I.

I didn’t expect those moments to be gone so fast—despite all the warningsI didn’t think it would happen to me.

But those days are gone.

No more bedtime picture books.

No more rocking you to sleep, your soft cheek resting against my own. 

No more feet racing to the door when I get home from work, 

Or you screaming my name while I pull you into a bear hug and swing you in circles. 

No LEGO piles or princess dresses or sleepovers in makeshift tents on the living room floor. 

No more tiny hand in mine to cross the broken streets of this world.

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You are your own woman now, setting your own limits.

I’m trying to let you go.

I’m trying to be adult about this. 

I swear.

I know how much good you have inside you.

And I am not surprised that so many of your friends long to be a part of all that sunshine too. 

You are wild, beautiful, and strong with a voice of a thousand mountains—ready to sing your story to the stars.

I’ll be darned if I will hold you back from that kind of dreaming

Instead, I will settle in, hot cup of coffee in my hand, and understand that this is the moment I’ve been working toward. 

And when you are ready to join me once again, well, I’ll be here . . . 

Loving you just as much as always and proudso proud—of who you are, of who you have become. 

Christine Hartjes

Christine Hartjes is a teacher and a writer from Appleton, Wisconsin.