Wednesday, December 12, 2012
When my daughter was little, she was — as Mary Poppins would say — "practically perfect in every way." I don't think this is my over-romanticizing the past. Really, she was an easy-peasy child. And, this made it easy-peasy for me to be a good mom. She was agreeable, compliant, cheerful, sweet. I rarely — if ever — raised my voice.
How times have changed, my friends.
These days, I am torn between frustration over her actions (or, often, inactions) and self-recrimination over my own. Whether she realizes it or not, I don't enjoy shrieking at her. It isn't fun to find fault. I don't leave her room feeling good or proud or victorious. Generally, I slink off and berate myself for losing my cool.
I felt I had a lot of support from other mothers years ago when we were struggling with daycare schedules, breast-feeding and potty training. But, the issues of raising a teenager don't seem to be shared as much. Take a look at typical Facebook posts by moms about their high schoolers:
Joey made the honor roll ... again. ;)
We were just thrilled when Susie's softball team took the state championship.
Here's Kayla helping out at the homeless shelter.
And, yes, I know I am guilty myself. What will my little equestrienne do with yet another blue ribbon?
For all the sharing out there, I don't think we're broadcasting our real feelings. Here's what I'd like to see (or, let's face it, post) if we were all being honest:
Why does my teenager hate me so much?
I went to college for this???
She's a monster and I'm scared to go into her room.
Last night, I attended an ad industry holiday party. Although we all had professional stories to tell, one conversation quickly evolved into a group therapy session with myself and other parents of teenagers earnestly listening to our slightly older peers. You see, they had already lived through the terrible teens and come out the other side. "It will get better," they assured us. "They'll come back around." "You have to trust that you taught them the important stuff already."
Being the mother of a teen is tough. And, as my best friend always urges me to remember, "If she likes you, you're not doing your job."
It helps to hear other stories. For one thing, it's gratifying to know that you're not alone. For another, some of the stories are so much worse that you gain perspective. You realize your own little spawn of Satan ain't so bad after all.
So what if you spend an inordinate amount of your life policing and nagging, checking homework and reviewing grades? I have heard many grown people wish that their parents had pushed them harder. I've never once heard a person complain the other way.
I recently found this online, edited it a bit and sent it to my daughter. (I wish I could tell you who wrote it in the first place, but like so many things that go viral, it's virtually impossible to find where it started.)
My promise to my child. I am your mom first, your friend second. I will guide you, lecture you, flip out on you, drive you insane, be your worst nightmare and hunt you down like a bloodhound when needed because I LOVE YOU! When you understand that, I will know you are a responsible adult. You will NEVER find someone who cares, worries about and loves you more than I do!