Welcome, Mamma Crew! Today is Kiddos Tuesdays when I discuss issues related to the kids.
Okay, so one of the advantages of being an older parent is that we’re supposed to be wiser and have more patience, right? Why doesn’t it feel like I’m wiser? Or like I have any patience now that the kids are in the process of becoming teenagers?
Emmy and Andy will be turning thirteen this June, and Dora will be turning thirteen in September. And there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t want to kill them! Okay, what do I mean by that?
My perfect children perpetually roll their eyes, or worse yet, they give me the blank you’re-talking-Chinese-to-me-Mom;
I-have-no-idea-what-you’re-saying-to-me-Mom; don’t-you-know-that-English-is-the-only-language-I-speak-Mom. But the truth is they don’t speak English. They speak teenagehood, right? And it’s a completely different language, ruled by nothing other than hormones that swing and roll worse than the most intense rollercoaster you can find at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
Now I have to admit, I’ve never been a lover of rollercoasters. That’s one of the reasons I love Disney — because the rides are just exciting enough without being too much for me. You know — too scary; too violent; too fast, too… I don’t know what to tell you. I just don’t like rollercoasters. But that’s exactly what it feels like I’m on. Feels like I’m on a runaway rollercoaster — with loops! And it goes upsidedown and it goes much faster than anything I ever signed up for. And the worst part is that I ever know when it’s gonna hit!
I mean, sometimes I’ll be talking to Dora and she gives me this absolute blank stare, and yet the next thing you know, she’s crying like a two-year-old because Andy accidentally broke one of her figurines. The swings are just so wild!
Andy, on the other hand, my very frivolous child, who has never known hunger, violence, or abuse, constantly goes online and tells people how depressed and miserable she is and how she suffers so much because she’s not understood! This is a girl who gets a regular allowance, love, hugs, kisses — even when she doesn’t want them! And what do I mean by “she doesn’t want them?” It’s not that she really doesn’t want them, it’s just that she doesn’t want to get the process started because usually, she is going to pretend that she’s too old, too big, but eventually, she’ll sit on my lap and she’ll let me cuddle her. And kiss her. And canoodle with her and let her know and help her feel loved.
You know, I encourage her love of cosplay. I even signed up to her TikTok account, not to police her — which, no doubt, maybe she needs that — but primarily to see her creative endeavors; to encourage her; to help her. But that doesn’t seem to matter. She still goes out there and complains incessantly about what a hard life she has.
And then there’s Emmy. She is the one that communicates the most with me — on a regular basis — about her feelings, her relationships and so on, and so on (for which I’m eternally grateful), but my girl is addicted to drama! She finds the most unkind drama queen she can possibly find to become friends with! Which, of course, means that they’re not very nice and they take her on a daily rollercoaster ride of negative emotions and emotional blackmail. And I stand by her, constantly reminding myself that this is the way it is when we were teenagers. We are drawn to this level of drama — at least I was, and I outgrew it. I certainly hope she does, too.
So it brings me back to the ‘wiser and more patient.’ I don’t feel wiser! Okay, I certainly don’t spend a lot of time screaming at them the way that my mother did because she didn’t know what to do with me or my sisters and she didn’t understand that we had to individuate from her. And we had to go out there and explore relationships, and make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. And have support while we were learning from those mistakes. It’s not the same thing to have your parent tell you that you’re making a mistake as it is to actually go through it and learn from that mistake. So yes, in that sense, I can be… wiser, I suppose. But patient? That’s easier some days than others.
I think the one that tests my patience the most is Andy because she’s the one that rolls her eyes the most; she’s the one that puts her arms up in the air while I’m talking to her like I’m attacking her even though I’m six feet away and I’m just talking to her nicely. All I’m saying is something she doesn’t want to hear, which, as soon as she gets to that defensive posture, my voice raises because I get angry.
Now let’s face it. I’m not angry. I’m hurt! I’m hurt that she’s doing that. Why is she doing that? I’m not attacking her! But it doesn’t seem to matter, despite the fact that I’m not my mother; despite that, I don’t treat my children the way my mother treated me, they’re still treating me the way I treated my mother at that age.
And so I find myself reminding myself that this is part of the individuation process. But now I realize how painful it must have been for my mother, who couldn’t — wouldn’t — let go. I’m willing to let go. I understand that I need to let go. And I also accept that it’s a slow, incremental process. They will be earning more freedom as they get older. And I will have to respect their choices more and more whether I want to or not, at the same time guiding them to better choices.
But regardless of the fact that I’m doing it differently (and hopefully, I’m doing it better), they still need to go through that process in which they hurt me in order to move forward. In order to become individuals. It’s a stage of life that we go through as human beings. That we’re entitled to go through. And through which we deserve to be supported.
But having said all of that, which sounds reasonable, patient and wise, now I’m going to say what is unreasonable, impatient, and unwise. I HATE IT! I absolutely hate this period! I loved it when they were kids, and I’m sure I’m going to love it when they’re done going through this process in which they need to hurt me in order to create that independence and individuality. Because I know — I know in my heart of hearts — that they’re going to be wonderful, strong, independent, self-sufficient women.
But for now, I really don’t feel wise or patient. I feel like a hurt mom. And I miss having the relationship that I used to have with them. But I also understand, even as my heart shrinks, explodes and contracts, that this will lead to a greater understanding between us. A more mature and evolved relationship — eventually. And I have to make it through this. But I’m not exactly sure how to do that.
I know I’m not losing them. They’re evolving. I just wish I knew, how to go through this. I know what to do for them. But what do I do for myself? What do I do to survive this phase in their lives and not feel like so many other parents who talk about their adolescent years like it was this horror movie? I don’t want that. I don’t want to become my children’s adversary. I just don’t.
So this is a call out to you guys. What do you do? How do you get through these difficult days? Do you think it’s helpful for those of you who’ve had children who are now in their 20s but yet at the same time, are now experiencing that second set of kids that are teens? Was it helpful to have gone through it once before? Is it making it easier?
Or for those of you who are going through it, like me, for the first time, how did you get through the day? How do you get through the night? How do you handle the pain that comes to you, as a parent, during this period of growth in your child’s life? I really hope some of you guys have some answers because I could really use it.