Teenage girls get a bad rap. They are painted as moody, bitchy, argumentative creatures who are just plain mean, even cruel at times and above all else, they hate their mothers. I’m not sure that’s a true representation. I know being a teenage girl is difficult on a good day.
Now, I’ve never personally hated my mom. There was a brief moment in history when I thought I knew better than her and I was inclined to telling her so. I believe it the ages of 15-17. I talked back so much, it’s a wonder that I have any teeth left in my head. I was very willful and headstrong, as children becoming adults often are. I was one step above throwing tantrums.
My mom was a saint, aside for the occasional moments when she just couldn’t stand it anymore and would, without saying a word, push her bony knuckles into my thigh. Don’t feel sorry for me, I deserved much worse and now, I know what restraint it took to not say a damaging word to me.
I always wanted to skip that part of motherhood and to be honest, I was terrified of it. It was the part when my mom and I put some space between us, or rather I did. I took every word and look as a transgression from her. She really could do no right. Now I see, how hard she was trying. After all, when I was 17, she was a mother of 4 teenagers, a 10-year-old and a newborn. I don’t know how she managed and right now, I applaud her for not killing us all.
People warned me of what I had to look forward to when my own girls entered the teen years. I had nightmares of my sweet, loving daughters turning into gum smacking, eye rolling, ish talking monsters but mostly I feared the wedge it would drive in our relationship. Honestly, it’s been hovering like a rain cloud for their entire childhood. I think it’s part of why I’ve tried so hard to build an open, honest relationship with my girls. It’s what I always wanted with my own mom.
Don’t get me wrong, my mom and I were close. She’s one of my favorite people but I think we could have been closer had we clung to each other during the rough patch rather than have pushed one another away. Heated emotions allowed us to walk away. At the time, I think we both felt it was to cause less damage but in retrospect, it allowed for complacency. I realized some relationships are worth staying and fighting; the one with your mom is one of those.
Here I am many years later, entering the teen years again. This time I’m the mom. I’ve put in 13 years preparing both of us for this moment. It’s been work and consistency every single day. It’s meant having hard discussions, being completely open and not being perfect. It’s meant tears and hard choices but always my heart was looking to the long game. Every moment has been a teachable moment. There is no room for complacency in my motherhood.
I never know if I’m doing it right. Most of the time, it feels like I am doing it absolutely wrong. But then every so often, my daughters do something that validates everything I’ve been doing. It’s never big sweeping gestures. I don’t want those. Anyone can do those, it’s like going to church on Christmas. It comes in quiet moments in the form of unexpected words or actions that I’m not even sure are meant for me to see. It’s in the kind of human beings they are becoming but sometimes it’s more obvious but still just as powerful and meaningful and I find myself crying because I am moved.
Why am I talking about this? Well, a couple weeks ago I was visiting my parents alone. No Big Guy and no girls. I actually got to be just a daughter for the first time in many years and it was glorious, but that’s a post for another time. Anyways, back to my story.
While I was at my parents’ house not being in charge and having all of my whims indulged, my phone dinged. I was mid-conversation with my mom. Ironically, it was my daughter. Wasn’t sure that I wanted to open the message because, honestly, I was in such a good mood and I just knew it was going to be the girls pulling me into an argument they were having or them trying to convince me to overrule a decision their father had made. I never do that by the way because marriage=solid front.
Anyways, against my better judgment, I opened the message from my teenage girl.
Did I mention this was during the last couple weeks of school so hell was breaking loose? The girls bickering had gotten out of control. It moved beyond simple arguing and tattling to a full contact sport and it was exhausting to watch and to mediate. This is one of those moments when I completely feel like I am failing at parenting. But, I can’t ignore my children. I opened the email and this is what I found.
Not going to lie. It made me cry. It made me puff out my chest. It made me feel all the feels and I immediately ran over to my own mom and showed her what an amazing granddaughter she has. She raised me, so she gets credit too. And I think we both felt all warm and fuzzy inside knowing that even if our relationship may have been strained for a few years, it made me the mom I am today. A teenager who randomly sends her mom this song for no reason at all, well, I’d say I’m doing something wrong…at least on that day.
Love your teenagers the way you loved your toddlers; same kid, different body. You keep putting that love out there, even when everyone wants to walk away and it’s easier, you keep momming that kid. You might not know it by looking at them when they’re ignoring you and rolling their eyes but they see you. They hear you. They love you and they know you love them unconditionally. P.S. It might kill me when they leave for college.