When my daughter was in high school, I was asked to be a youth leader in church. Knowing that our relationship was so rocky, I declined. My thought: who am I to counsel young women when I can barely tolerate my kid?! I found out later, after many long drives that led me to secluded parking lots where I cried ugly tears, I was not alone in my teen drama. Other parents also had the same challenges.
In retrospect, my daughter was a typical teen: moody, mouthy, rebellious, stubborn. Everyone in my family said she was just like me as a teen. I do remember sneaking out the window to see my boyfriend (sorry, Mom) but I did everything in my power to keep my rebellion a secret. I was also raised to blindly obey my mom. My sister and I could argue our case, but what my mom said was law. Period. I didn’t want that for my children. I wanted then to feel that they had a voice, although I was still the last word. My visits to truancy court through work shows that regardless how mature a child thinks he or she is, parents still pay the price. My children are rarely subjected to Executive Decision. That still didn’t prevent my daughter from defiantly slamming out the door, and bunking with a family member until my anger cooled to a simmer. When The Mister would bring her home, the house was tense with grunts and rolled eyes until the next dust-up.
Many parents of teens have told me that this was common. The stink attitude, the lack of communication, the need to stay at work, the gym, the car, anywhere to find peace were things they went through.
After learning that I suffered in silence, that the years I spent with a semi scowl on my face, the secrets of a teen were not mine alone, I vowed that I would not allow any other person to suffer.
Now that she is no longer a permanent member of the house, our relationship has improved. I have forgiven myself for not being the mom I concocted in my head, talked TO her, not AT her about those horrible years, and accepted that we both made mistakes.
Recently my sister, daughter, and I were on a three-way call, either talking about the cats or tacos. It’s not important. My sister is going through challenges with my niece. Despite my insistence to chill out and not sweat the small stuff, she does. In a panic, she blurted out to my daughter “Mama, why?” I could hear the hesitation, my daughter’s mind reliving the past. Her voice, quivering at first, grew stronger as she accepted her part in our past.
She explained that she was a teen. She WAS moody. My father in law had passed and she didn’t know how to express her feelings. She felt pushed to make decisions that she didn’t feel ready to make. My daughter felt alone.
Silence on the call and then my sister asked her “But why?”
My daughter said that she thought she could handle it all. She knew I was going through a bad period of depression and that The Mister was “drawling” and she just shut down.
I will continue to assure my children that I have no favorites.
I will continue to assure my children that although I may get so mad I break something, they can come to me with any problem. I can’t help if I don’t know.
I love my children with all my heart.