Friday, October 18, 2013

surviving adolescence

around 2 years ago, i started worrying about my child's sanity. the mood swings, the happy girl skipping around the house 5 min. later rolling around sobbing on the floor. the extreme ups & downs.... i decided to consult a friend who's daughter is 1 yr. older than mine. she assured me that no, there was nothing wrong with my child, but that she is probably heading into puberty.

i made it my mission to ask as many seasoned moms about this disease and how to cure it.

they laughed and said that may be the problem. it is not a disease and in fact a very important part of life to journey through. i realized if i was going to keep it cool and not lose my sanity i had better get it together. i decided then to have a special devotion to st. jude during these years. the patron saint of hopeless causes.

it reminds me, in particular, of my last two birth experiences. with #5, i had a 10 min freak out period (it wasn't really that bad, but  i didn't want to repeat it) which included a few audible bouts of "this sucks" "how much longer?" "i'm over this" "this really sucks!!" and then he was born & it was over. well with #6 i didn't want to experience those out of control feelings again. i wanted to stay "in the zone" the whole time. so when that unbearable ring of fire presented itself, on the outside i stayed "in the zone," but inside my head i remember thinking "this is ridiculous. it's like having to escape a fiery room... you have to go through the burning door to get out. that's it, no other way out. to live... you need to run through the burning door."

so i know that is the perspective i need to keep while entering this treacherous new world of pubescence. it's just that they are so unstable. they are like clumsy growing puppies. their bodies are growing and seeming more mature however their minds are not quite there yet. it's almost like they revert back. they start spilling things again, bumping into you, personal space? what's that? i think they might lose some capability of controlling the tone of their voice as well. things get REAL loud around the house... the talking, the crying, the singing, the laughing, the teasing... it's REALLY loud.

lately, i have been getting very frustrated at my sweet adult baby angel. it's as if every time we talk ends in her huffing away and my blood boiling out of my ears. spinning cartoon eyes and steam rising from the top of my head (you are welcome for the visual). i had a very weak moment the other day and casually mentioned to her that i am tired of feeling like i want to stick a knife in my eyeball after every conversation. probably not something i would want in vinyl letters on my wall. not good.

i talked to my mom and she said i really can't say things like that & that her behavior is very normal for a 13 yr. old. she reminded me that my goal in life when i was 13 was to make her life miserable.
(now i'm feeling like a terrible child and a terrible parent) i explained that is just the point. i want her to be better than me, to not make the mistakes i did as an adolescent. i want her to be a "perfect" 13 yr. old.
not good again.

i met up with a friend who also has a 13 yr. old. we shared stories and died laughing with tears streaming down our cheeks. it's just so hard to see those same eyes that sparkled at you & preferred your smile over everyone else... you are their sun and moon when they are little... are now giving you an arms folded blank stare in response to whatever you are saying to them.

i will give you an example of a recent situation that had me really worked up. and i share this not to point out my daughters behavior, but to give you an idea of exactly what i am talking about. {i asked permission from my daughter to share this story so i don't want to get any random calls from family psychiatrists}

at a recent family dinner, we had s'mores. we had a lot of children around an open fire. we really had to watch the little ones. so you can imagine my frustration when my 13 yr. old was standing in front of the fire with her marshmallow in full flame 2 inches from her face. just innocently curiously looking at it. so many things wrong with this scene... 1. hello? not a great example for the other children, 2. hello? get the fireball marshmallow away from your face, 3. hello? why?????
so of course she watches the marshmallow until it burns to a crisp and falls off of her stick. i decide to let it go in attempt to "choose my battles."  same routine with marshmallow #2. i now roll my eyes and pivot myself so that she is not in my direct line of sight. repeats the pattern again with marshmallow #3. now after marshmallow #4 i lost it. i said "enough! no more marshmallows for you. you have wasted 4 and now you are done". big performance incurs with a big "what did i do? i didn't do anything!!!" big huff & puff and dramatically walks inside the house. 2 min. later dad comes out asking what happened and why did everyone else get s'mores except for her. i decided to excuse myself from the situation and cool off at home.

now, i do realize that 13 yr. olds are capable of much more drama. i am VERY thankful that these are the types of things that drive me crazy and not other behaviors that could be much more concerning (i.e. boyfriends, drugs, drinking, general rebelliousness) but it makes me crazy anyway. i ask myself where did i go wrong? why am i such a bad mother that i can't just enjoy a little marshmallow roast without getting upset at my daughter? is she obsessed with fire? is she doing that just to make me crazy? why isn't she thinking it through? how many more marshmallows would she have gone through?

but what i needed to do was calm down. because in the big picture she really isn't doing anything wrong... maybe a little eye roll here & there, taking FOREVER to do anything and generally somewhat unorganized... but that's kind of the stereotype for teenagers. the thing that needs to change is me. my perspective.

i love that child more than anything and don't want to spend the next several years battling with her. i want to encourage, support, laugh, delight in and enjoy her. because this time is so short. while i love having little children, i know that doesn't last. most of our lives together we spend as adults. and i am very much looking forward to enjoying my kids as adults. i want to do my best in raising them and helping them to become the best they can be. but that's just it. they are who they are. i can't control who my daughter is. she has to develop that on her own. i can set an example and make lots of suggestions but she is her own person. she will have to make her own decisions. some good and some bad... but she has to make them. and i want her to be happy and confident with herself. who am i kidding... some of the choices i made as an adolescent are funny to me now... but if i think of my daughter doing those things... oh boy. not so funny. but the point is that i really enjoyed making choices. i wasn't lost or confused. i delighted in being myself. and she is her mother's daughter. she's a little eccentric & out of the box and i LOVE that! i don't want her to be dependent on me for every choice. i don't want her to feel like she needs to look to me or is incapable of making her own decisions. i want her to feel like i am a good sounding board and that she can always ask me... but that she is capable of making good choices on her own.

i have a feeling that the drama and turmoils of raising 6 teenagers are going to be pretty much the same regardless of my stress level. i need to stay calm and 'in the zone.' i may regret a lot less verbiage if i bite my tongue. it's like my 5th & 6th birth experiences. the pain was going to be the same. i wasn't getting out of that. there was no way around it. i had to get through that burning door. i could freak out and complain about it & regret it later OR i could take a breath, maintain focus and get through that burning door with a bit of grace and sanity.

me & my first baby girl. july 2000


The Richardson's said...

I hear you. I am having the same reactions to M. I cannot handle the 3/4/5 year old attitude. I feel like every interaction between us is toxic too. ugh.

Normal, yes. Easy, no.

It is hard to remember that they are doing exactly what they are supposed to at their age. It is US who need to adjust. I wish it were easier.

And that picture of you holding S...she looks so much like you.

Good luck to us all!!!!!!!!!! Parenting is tough. Let's just drink some

rotner ramblings said...

So normal. All of it-her, you, the emotions and the frustrations. It's very difficult not to take their behaviors and actions personal. However, their actions are not a reflection of you nor are they personal attacks. Tough stuff.

"This too shall pass."

And I think it'll all pass better with margaritas. Or so I've been told. ❤

Jenna Guizar said...

Loved this :)

and you look like a ten year old in that picture!!! :)

Anonymous said...

So many of the reasons why I love you all wrapped up together in this post. Makes me cry just a little too. You are awesome! -maru