I have the rare opportunity to see my daughter in her environment at school (because it's where I work), and it's truly fascinating seeing her in her element there. She's the same Tori I see at home, yet she's not. I know many of you who have children know what I mean, and if they're too young yet to fully grasp it, don't worry - one day all too soon you will.
Tori is the light of my life. She makes me laugh. She fills me with pride. She astonishes me with her wit, her wisdom, and her insight. And every day she brings love to my life. At home, she is familiar to me.
I know what jokes she'll laugh at on TV because they're usually the same ones I laugh at. I know when she'll roll her eyes at Terry because I'm usually rolling mine as well. I anticipate the light in her eyes when she's talking about band or guard or ... Jimmy. I hate the frowns and the tears I've witnessed when friends fail her.
This is my daughter.
Some other creature inhabits her body at school . . . and I don't mean that in a bad way. It's quite interesting, actually.
Tori at school doesn't see me when I'm standing twenty or thirty feet away from her in the hall. It's not that she's ignoring me - I'm just not on her radar. She's still on mine - how else would I be able to tell you that I'm the invisible mother? I watch her come down the stairs, gabbing a mile a minute to her friends, laughing loudly enough sometimes that I can hear her.
I teased her a couple days ago about wanting to chaperone the prom this year because she's going for the first time. I told her how cool I thought it would be if we got to share that "first" of hers together - all night. (It was all tongue-in-cheek, of course, and she knew that - I think!) She made it very clear to me that I was not wanted nor was I needed at the prom. If I was asked to chaperone, she said I had to turn them down. She was denying me entrance into that part of her world. I laughed at her as she squirmed, trying to figure out if I was serious about wanting to come. The daughter-Tori didn't want to hurt my feelings. The school-Tori doesn't care about my feelings. That girl does not want me at that party.
And that's okay with me.
Our kids have to grow up. They have to become individuals and live their own lives. It's what we want for them. It's what we hope we've prepared them to do well. When I see her in the halls at school and she doesn't see me, I know she's on her way. And she's laughing and smiling with friends as she goes.
Prom is her night. I'm staying home.