Tonight my 11-year-old is going to her first pop concert — without me.
I’m pretty torn up about it. Not because I’m missing out on the Selena Gomez Stars Dance tour, but because I always thought my daughter would experience this (now) middle school rite of passage with me, one which I didn’t experience until high school and then it was with my boyfriend, not my mom (Sting, Nothing Like the Sun Tour, St. Louis, 1988. Awesome).
The deal is, my husband’s out of town, the toddler has a slight case of pneumonia and my 3rd grader needs a little attention. I could have gotten a babysitter, but it doesn’t seem fair to leave one sick and one needy kid with a sitter just so I can hang out with the third and fulfill my dream of going to her first concert with her.
Yeah, that’s right. Turns out it’s my dream that we go to her first concert together, not necessarily hers. When I asked Ella if she minded I was missing it, she said,
“Mommy, it would be great if you could come, but it’s totally fine that you aren’t.”
That broke my heart a little, that truth right there.
I get it. The real highlight for her is that she’s old enough to actually go to her first concert. Plus she’s going with one of her very good friends (and her mom) wearing matching light-up rainbow tutus and waving enormous signs at Selena in a last ditch effort to meet her backstage. I guess I’ll have to catch the photos on Instagram.
So the day has finally come, one I’ve dreaded but always knew was inevitable: I am no longer her only sun. I don’t quite have the pull I used to. In fact, I’m quietly being eclipsed by brighter stars and more interesting planets. Her friends, Hits 1 and Abercrombie & Fitch have much higher cool factors than me with my Alt Nation and Michael Stars t-shirts.
From the moment they’re born, our kids are constantly growing up and away from us. When you’re in the thick of it, it feels like it will never end, that you will never not have a small person clinging to you like a monkey or someone’s nose to wipe or back to rub. It feels like you have all the time in the world to play hide-and-seek, to teach her how to cartwheel, to cheer her on from the sidelines, to stroke her cheek and tell her it’s okay, she’s okay, in fact she’s awesome. Even more awesome than rockin’ out to Sting, live in St. Louis in 1988.
Then it’s done: the sleepless nights, before-dawn wakings, dirty diapers, temper tantrums, bed wetting; the silly knock-knock jokes, toothless grins, kisses for no reason; the harping on her to practice piano, do her homework, make her bed. Now I have to wake her up in the mornings. Now I have to chase her down for a kiss.
I miss my girl.
Later, in the car on the way to her friend’s house, Ella says,
“Momma, I am actually a little bummed you’re not coming to the concert with me.”
“I know baby, I’m sorry I can’t come too,” I say, my stomach tightening, that feeling of missing out washing over me. We sit quietly together with our disappointment. I drive, she stares out the window, P!nk belts out “Blow Me One Last Kiss.”
“I know!” she says when the song ends. “You’ll come with me to my next concert and that will be our first one together.”
“Sounds awesome,” I say, smiling at her in the rear-view mirror. Maybe she’s not so far out of my orbit. After all, there’s nothing like the sun.