Monsoon season in the Arizona desert is electric. So are attitudes of teenage girls, well, at least my daughter’s.
We are experiencing the hottest, most blistering summer on record, with too many days reaching 109-116 degrees. ☀ When I first moved to AZ, the monsoons in late July and August were a regular occurrence. Some were pure dust with no rain and others brought spectacular lightning shows I had never seen the likes of. Still others produced torrential downpours which our parched land cannot contain so certain areas of the city are easily flooded. This year, monsoons are few and far between, but at last, God brought one to the Valley of the Sun, and a dynamic lightning display to go with it.
When it had ‘cooled’ down to about 100 degrees after dark, I was in front of my house with a hose spraying dirt and debris from the sidewalk and driveway. I saw some flashes of light in the distant clouds and asked my daughter to step out and witness this rare event. In order to obtain her participation, I faced the process of removing her beautiful face from the screen of her phone, which presents a challenge on a regular basis. ‘Come outside and see some nature!’
She stands near the frame of our front door. Mood.
I have learned that some battles are not worth my time and energy to fight, however, this particular evening, I was feeling … is adamant a feeling? I stepped into the ring. Weather besides sunny is a novelty where we live and I wanted my daughter to encounter it. Her phone soon found its way from her possession into my pocket (which involved fully taking the risk of putting myself in a scene where a miniature hell could break loose).
Standing on the quiet neighborhood street, I beckon, ‘Go ahead and step out further so you can see the full effect.’ She reluctantly crept approximately one foot from the patio. ‘Can I have my phone now?’ Oh the obsession. Ugh. A little battle ensued, and after stating the device would remain with me, she moseyed a few feet closer. Lord Jesus, I whispered, bind that spirit of rebellion and help me contain my own mini-hell thas’ boutta break loose. At this point, I firmly explain to her that it is not about the lightning in the sky anymore; it is about respect and obedience in our parent/teen relationship. She finally made it to the edge of the sidewalk and briefly caught a glimpse of those beautiful strikes that represent God’s creativity and power.
We proceeded back into the house, but didn’t stay in for long.
The storm quickly intensified, the wind picked up drastically and rain was on its way. My daughter had already resumed the typical ‘phone in face while lying on bed’ position. I proceeded to enter her room (I think I remembered to knock this time).
‘Come outside again. I want to show you something.’
As we walked through the kitchen toward the back door, she was gazing at her phone with a smile. ‘My friends just asked if I saw how windy it was.’ Thought: Oh right, now it’s something fun because your middle school counterparts are talking about it, not due to your mom’s idea or promptings. It’s whatever. At least the mood was swinging to the positive side. I’ll take it.
Once she saw the strong potential of rain, she retrieved a blanket (hey – might reach a chilly 90 degrees with a summer storm approaching), and one of our dogs (Pablo) to sit on a patio chair with her, documenting the experience with her many friends via Snapchat. Oh sure, I thought to myself, so now it’s suddenly trendy to venture outdoors and view the splendor of nature. It’s whatever. Friends rule. I get it.
Eventually, she emerged further into the yard minus her phone and started interacting with Pablo as he excitedly raced around in the warm rain, enjoying the unique weather moment. I snapped photos and caught a cute video of them. Cloud to cloud lightning was in full force so we decided to try and get a shot of her holding Pablo with the streaks of electricity behind them. After about 30 attempts, I actually caught one and showed my daughter. She liked it, but it wasn’t quite Insta-worthy yet. Something about how her leg didn’t look right. Sigh. We tried a few more angles with the back porch light off and then she noticed the storm was moving so it would be better if we returned to the front yard (where the electric current of the evening began) for better visibility.
Being in such a good mood, she offered different ideas of how to set up for the perfect shot. Note: Since most of a teen’s mind is consumed with what others are thinking about them, and she was participating in an activity with her mom of all people (how embarrassing), there was a short delay in the action while we remained on stand by until another neighbor walked back into his home. I then assumed a squatted position in the rocks to capture just the right combo of sky, teen and dog, and we waited. Took a few pics too early before the lightning appeared or when a gust of wind blew her hair in the wrong direction, and the timing was a bit off in others so the entire screen looked like a camera flash blew up due to the brightness. We finally took a fantastic frame of the lightning, but Pablo was concerned about a neighbor’s gate rattling so he had looked back and now his head didn’t show up in the photo, plus her shirt filled with air. Close enough? Nope.
It seemed like the storm was winding down, it was getting late and I had a job interview to prepare for, but my daughter wanted to try one more area of the sky, and one more pose with her hand running through her hair at just the correct second. I resumed the squat in the rocks vantage point, not complaining because if you will remember, it was my idea to view the splendor of nature in the first place.
After a few more timed taps, I looked down at the screen on my phone and immediately jumped up, pumping my fist in the air, and continued in a run/jump combo toward the front door shouting, ‘I WIN!! I WIN!! I finally win Mother of the Year Award!’ I revealed the winning, social-media-worthy photo to my daughter and she loved it. I proceeded to ask, ”So when you post it, will you give your Mom photo-cred?’ Silence. Again, it’s whatever. I won’t push it.
Get this though – within the next hour, she was putting on eye shadow for me, explaining that if I don’t want wrinkles to show, use matte, not sparkles. Thank you?? I appreciated the advice, but not being reminded of the current face status. Oh well, thanks to that award-winning photo shoot, I had a teen in a decent enough mood to care and take a few minutes to help me get the winning look for a morning Zoom interview.
During the course of the weekend, I was constantly given Instagram updates on how many people liked and commented on the lightning photos she posted. I saw a piece of one convo that went something like: omggggg that’s awesommmmeeeeeeee good stuff 🔥🔥 / ikr?! / frrr no cap / yes lol. A couple of her friends even asked who the photographer was … ohhhh yeahhhh … my chance to shine! They best recognize my skills that earned the coveted MOTY award! ‘What did you tell them?’ I casually asked. ‘Oh,’ she informed me, ‘I messaged the ones who asked individually on the side and told them it was my Mom.’ Umm … not the full-blown public acknowledgment I was hoping for, but hey, once again, it’s whatever. I’ll take partial credit in a separate, private reply. Better than zero cred.
Raising a teen girl is electric, and even though this storm has only just begun for me, I’m thankful for the moments when God sends bolts of encouragement my way. After all, He already got me through the boy version (Teenage Storm).
To the present and future Moms out there, our Mother of the Year Awards might not involve grand red carpet entrances or polished acceptance speeches, but God sees that we are trying to do the best we can with what we know and what we have, in whatever circumstances we are in. Even though God deserves all the credit for creating our children, give yourself credit too (on the side of course). Rejoice in the small victories, post-worthy or not! Your next MOTY Award is on its way…