You know that feeling, as a mom, when you see your kids doing something heartbreakingly sweet that you're sure will not end well?
Maybe your daughter is painstakingly wrapping a gift for a child you know may not appreciate the gift....or your child?
Maybe your child is slicking his hair down with hair gel to impress a girl, spending far too long in the bathroom on one errant strand.
Maybe a love note has been written in wonky handwriting, a son's heart on his sleeve, as he professes his ardor for a girl who may not know his name.
We, as parents, go through these moments with pangs in our hearts, wishing we could make it all turn out and end well or....in the very least.....warn our children that the love note may not be well-received or the hair gel is doing him no favors.
But we don't. We suffer those pangs silently, watching our children go into the world with the best they have to offer, and we hope the world won't be too cruel in return.
You know the only thing worse than that?
The moment your child has those pangs for you....the parent.
Last night, invited to a neighborhood party, I stood in the kitchen peeling clementines. My daughter approached and asked what I was doing.
"I'm peeling these for the kids to eat, so they don't have to peel them."
"Oh, Mommy," she said, putting an arm around my shoulder. "You're trying too hard. The kids won't even appreciate them."
I shrugged her off and assured her the kids would eat them and enjoy them and, anyway, peeled clementines in a heaping pile are charming.
She closed her eyes and sighed.
Then I got out some cheese and toasted baguette and began arranging a cheese tray.
My daughter was nearly beside herself. I was trying too hard. I spent too much money. Our neighbors wouldn't even appreciate this. I was working too much. Nobody would care about the assortment of cheese.
On and on she went.
Then, to her utter dismay, I took out a pan of homemade Rice Krispie Treats (Smitten Kitchen's recipe is the best).
I thought she might cry. I finally asked her to just leave the kitchen because she was making me feel worse than if nobody ate my peeled clementines at all.
An hour later, I arrived at the party. I'd gotten bottles of sparking apple cider, little individual ones that look like tiny champagne bottles, for the kids. My son carried 12 of them in his arms. I had my platter of clementines. My husband had the cheese tray. I believe he was wearing wool pants and a plaid shirt. I had my hair in a bun.
We walk in and it's a party. A PARTY. There is rap music playing. There are several drinks stations, and when I say drinks I don't mean Christmas punch: I mean Moscow Mules and Jalapeño Mojitos. The hostess is wearing (and actually doing justice) to a pair of latex pants and sky-high heels.
It was like Laura Ingalls Wilder walked into Samantha's apartment on Sex and the City.
The best part? It was, she told me apologetically, an adults-only party. My son, with his arms precariously balancing all those sparkling cider bottles, had to go home.
All of the other kids were at grandparent's houses.
Not having received the invitation (I'd been invited through Facebook messenger), I didn't know the pertinent details. I was totes embarrassed, as was the hostess. My husband took my son home (where his sister was watching ballet videos on YouTube) and returned to stand by my side.
An hour later, as P. Diddy and Murphy Lee encouraged us to shake our tail feathers, my husband and I prepared to leave. As I passed by the food table, I saw my little pile of clementines sitting untouched, and those Rice Krispie treats still stacked high.
When I got home, I sighed and sat on Maggie's bed and said, "Well, nobody ate the clementines."
I swear, I heard her heart crack.
I don't care about the clementines or the RKTs or the cheese tray or even the fact that my son went home. It was all fine. The party was fun, even with my bun. The people were friendly, and even though I am the new girl in town, I had some lovely conversations and came home with the contact info. of a woman I think may become a friend.
The best part of the whole night, though? Knowing that my daughter cares enough to feel those pangs of the heart....for me.