Teacher of the year – check! Mommy of the year – not so much:
I teach adolescent girls all day long. While I have been told how heroic I am for my willingness to take on this astonishing feat, it is not superhero work. I love what I do. I feel like I’m catching these girls at just the right moment of truly becoming. Identity formation is critical to the development of a young adult. And as a teacher, I am happy to give my girls a compassionate helping hand.
Those are the words of “Teacher” me. “Mommy” me is at her wit’s end! “Mommy” me wants to know what happened to that sweet little girl that I was raising. The one who looked up to me and rarely questioned my vast knowledge of best practices for becoming a well-rounded adult of relatively sound mind. Apparently my education, life experience, and good intentions are not relevant indicators that I might actually know what I am talking about.
“Mommy” me wants to know what happened to that sweet little girl that I was raising?
I‘m not ready for this!
My daughter is the oldest of my two. We were besties right up until about June 9, 2014, the day for which we’d been preparing since her mammary glands began to swell a year before. I wasn’t ready for the training bras, and I sure wasn’t ready for this. She was very matter of fact about coming into her womanhood. I, on the other hand, was a wreck! I refused to believe it. Had she made a mistake? Was she okay? Forget whether she was okay–was I okay?
The last two years have been full of moments of “I’m not ready for this!” Meanwhile, her hormones are screaming, “Ready or not, here we are!” All of us are all held captive by her mood swings. One minute she’s happy, next she’s sad. One moment she proclaims her love for each of her family members, the next we don’t rate an emotional or verbal response of any kind. Her adolescent brain is clouded with mush (pretty sure that’s the scientific term), and the ability to make good choices seems nearly impossible. She is sharp, quick-witted, and at times wise beyond her years, yet more often than not she exhibits the common sense of a wagon with square wheels.
Beauty from the ashes:
Often, at this time, moms go through a grieving process as the relationships with their daughters become strained. It is literally as if someone has come into our homes, taken away our daughters and replaced them with strangers. I often find myself staring at my child and wondering, “who are you?”.
And yet, there is hope, mama! I know it to be true. I see the evidence of it every single day at school. My girls push boundaries, cry at the drop of a hat, question, judge, retract judgement, learn from their mistakes, grow, swirl, spin and spit their way into young adulthood.
It is beautiful to watch from the outside as a schoolteacher. At home, the most you can do is become the “eye” of the hurricane. The peaceful center that maintains the calm while your daughter seemingly wreaks havoc. Provided you keep your wits about you and remain a steady, positive force for good, you’re both gonna turn out fine.
I’ve read a book or two (ok, maybe they were articles) on dealing with your adolescent child. The information that resonated with me most is to try to cultivate patience and just be there. Walk away from your hurricane for a moment and meditate, or have a glass of wine if you must. But know that she still needs you. For as much as you are going through, she is not having the time of her life either. Worse yet, she can’t possibly understand why or see the light at the end of the adolescent tunnel. But you can.
Adolescence came for us all once:
You’ve been there and picked up all of the t-shirts, magnets and coffee mugs. In the end, remember, this is not really about you. You are not the horrible mother that she pretends you are. You are merely the final reminder of a childhood she is preparing to move beyond. And you may not be ready, but your little girl has been coming to just this moment her entire life.