Monday, June 08, 2009

Rest Assured, It's All About Me

I received a couple of comments on this post from a couple of days ago expressing worry that I am not being fair to my Anna. Ilana, in particular, worries that I am cultivating such a wall of resentment against my daughter that, even when/if she should attempt to reconcile with us (as she matures), I will not be able to meet her halfway.

Apparently, Ilana never read this post. That experience taught me that - hard as it is for my present-day self to believe - when/if Anna returns as a delightful young woman, I will welcome her with open arms. And I qualify that statement with an "if" only because I know women who, although they did mature into fine adults, never really wanted to reconnect with their parents. It happens, folks - so I am a trifle guarded in my expectations.

Truly, I empathize with Anna (but I don't tell her that, because she loathes hearing it). I remember feeling the way she does, wanting to be grown-up and independent and in control of my own life and not being able to, mostly because I was only 15 or 16 and - quite frankly - sort of an idiot, life-skills-wise. I can see my middle-aged self through her eyes and feel repulsed. Is it any wonder I don't mind sending her away for almost a month? I can't stand myself when she's around.

I would hope that it would be clear to most of my readers that in 99 percent of these posts, the joke is on myself (or Larry - sorry, honey). Even in the aforementioned post (where I comment on Anna's toilet-cleaning non-proclivities and the oddness of her giving me a hug), the point is not to criticize Anna - a girl who is, after all, not behaving outside the norm of teenage girldom (that is, if my commenters are any gauge - thank you, ladies).

Rather, the point is to highlight and make fun of how disoriented and discombobulated parents - when subject to this typical teen behavior - can become. In the case of that particular post, the joke was that a teen girl's parents (that would be Larry and I) are often too shell-shocked to accept a simple hug - we are too conditioned to look for the trick behind it. (And don't you love how explaining a joke totally kills it?)

Anna has full access to this blog. She doesn't see the humor in it, of course. She's annoyed by it sometimes. But I persist in talking about her because someday Anna will be a grown-up herself with (God willing) children of her own. By the time they are teenagers, I may no longer be around. (As in, dead - or senile.) It is my fond hope that one of those nights when Anna's teen daughter has shot her the death glare and evinced utter disgust at her mere presence - one of those nights, in short, when her darling progeny has made her feel as hurt and vulnerable as a mother can feel - it is my hope that Anna thinks to peruse these pages.

Dear grown-up Anna, if you are reading these words years from now, you are probably mature enough to be aware that I always loved you (even when you couldn't stand to hear it). I might not have liked you at some points; but with a teen daughter of your own, you can understand that now. I wrote these posts to survive by finding some humor in what was (for me) a dark and hurtful situation. Perhaps you can use them to the same purpose.

Just don't stay up too late reading, sweetheart; and for heaven's sake, make sure the dishes are done before you sit down at the computer. Or, better yet, make your daughter do them. She hates you already, anyway.

Pin It

44 comments:

  1. For the record, I totally get your humor and I think you have every right to vent. I was also the biggest biatch in the State Montana to my parents as a teen.

    Teen girls have issues. We'll just leave it at that.

    On the bright side, when I was 25, I did apologize for my behavior, like when I made them drop me off two blocks from the mall so I wouldn't be seen with them by any of my friends. Or when I would follow my mom from room to room just so she would know I wasn't talking to her (I kinda still do that to josh).

    I love your blog!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Amen!
    Sorry Ilana, but I have two teenage boys, and will at some point also have teenage girls (currently one is 7 and the other incubating), so I have to take SC's side on this one.

    ReplyDelete
  3. My mother and I battled daily from the time I was about eight until I was almost done with high school. Menopause and teenhood (often) coinciding is a cruel, cruel joke on nature's part. But at some point I realized that I was becoming my mother at an alarming rate, and had better start to like her, and at some point she realized that, for all our fights over curfews and boys, I was not actually a problem child (more like an honors student who didn't drink anything more than Communion wine until I was in college). We started watching TV together, sitting on the porch together into the night talking about whatever came to mind, and snapping at each other less. It pretty much always, judging by all the experiences I've heard, comes with time. We still fought, and fight, more than occasionally, but became good friends over the years, and I love her very, very much. Which is good, because I have officially become her clone, and we speak in unison so often we don't even bother pointing it out anymore -- loving her is really the same thing has having high self-esteem.

    I know a lot of soon-to-be moms who say that they want boys, because girls are too dramatic and difficult. To which I say, all children are dramatic and difficult. All the moms I know can be, too. But you obviously love your daughter, and it's great that you look to see things from her perspective, too. Like you said, she's just a normal teenager. It happens. Good luck with her, and keep up the good work. I'm sure she appreciates it, even if she would rather die than say as much.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Despite having fallen down my staircase tonight (another story for another post), this mom who loved (and survived) two teenage daughters who are now adults, and who has one more to go (now age nine), is standing in front of her computer screen giving you a standing O.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Well for what it's worth, I got the joke(s). Even if they have, so far, foretold my life with a current young teenage daughter.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Music to my ears is hearing my eldest twin daughter say, "Mom, you were right." Since she has moved 20 miles away to the university dorms, I have heard that a lot lately as life smacks her in the face with reality. So there is hope after all even if she still is the queen of the eye-rolling. And I must tell you this, this heavens opened up and trumpets sounded when she thanked me and said she is where she is at today (a full-ride scholarship + 2 more scholarships) because of me.

    ReplyDelete
  7. At least you have a sense of humor. A lot of moms just seem like they're on the verge of suicide. No, daughtercide is more like it.

    I was 11 when the bitch in me came storming out. She stayed til I moved out of the house to live with my cousin when I was 15. I came back a year later and the monster was gone. I was still a bit snotty, but not like before.

    I look at my daughter who is almost 14 and pleasant as can be. Either it's going to hit her very late, or I might just have dodged a bullet. With six kids I know I'll get a dreadful teenager, though. My 10 year old boy and 8 year old girl are going to give me fits, I can see that already.

    ReplyDelete
  8. well I'm glad some of yours don't come read me- my daughter's 'punishment' last summer for getting caught in a lie? dish duty for 2 months straight. I loved it- my nails never looked better- thing is she now asks to do them without being asked. And I tell her all the time (and she's only 9 goingon 14) I will always love her and would die for her but that doesn't mean I always like the things she does and I make the point by showing her how I know she loves me but I know she doesn't always like the things I do (ie when I punish her, etc)...I think she gets it...so far.

    And you got it right- I'm one of those...I haven't spoken to my mother in oh 28 years? but our issues were more deeply seeded than just dishes and boys- I wish we had those issues.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think we laugh because the alternative is crying or an inappopriate use of alcohol.

    ReplyDelete
  10. While my daughter is only 5, I do have a son 14 going on 30 who informed me the other day, after I offered some advice, he already knows everything he needs to about girls. Well good luck with that I told him!! LOL
    BTW- I know my daughter it going to be the one to send me to the looney bin, at 5 she thinks she's 10 and when she is 15 I will be nearing 50, great timing eh???

    ReplyDelete
  11. I get you, too, and agree wholeheartedly with the comments above. I survived 3 teenaged daughters and 1 son. My oldest daughter gave us the most trouble and there were a lot of times I would have sent her off, if I could. By her early 20s, she was calling me her best friend.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Grandchildren are the reward for not strangling your teenagers.

    But that is just quoting someone else.
    I do thank all those mothers of girls out there. Someone, somewhere, is raising my future daughters-in-law and I am very grateful.

    ReplyDelete
  13. We totally get you. I look at your blog as kind of a survival manual for when I have 3- yes three- teenage daughters at one time.And, for what it's worth, I think it's wise to be a little bit cynical, shall we say. Teens are fantastic at living double lives and manipulating adults, (I know this from my own teen years), so it's just smart to be guarded. When we let a guard down that's when teens can spin out of control.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh I am so there. I apologized (again) to my parents just the other day on my blog because of how horrendous I was to them as a teen.

    My daughter is their revenge!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I love reading the posts about Anna and realizing how awful I must have been to my parents. I'm happy to say that I did eventually come back over to the Light side of the Force and have a great relationship with my mom now. There is hope!

    ReplyDelete
  16. The young woman who wrote is still seeing the teen's point of view. Most mothers don't start that slide, its the teens who do it. (not placing blame, but we are human and we react to hurt feelings) I have three teenage daughters.... and if the response to me (after asking her to clean) had been "what are you going to do all day then?..." (or whatever Anna said) I can assure you she would have been doing ALL the cleaning and cooking for at least a week!

    We have our moments in our home, but there is love and respect.... and the children know that I will not tolerate disrespect... no one else in the world will take it from them, and neither will I...

    ReplyDelete
  17. What is it about teen girls? I made life miserable for my mom on a daily basis and only in the past few years have I come to really appreciate her.

    OK then, time to call my mom.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I was one of those who couldn't figure out why my mother was so disgusted with me all the time. I got straight As, didn't drink, didn't have sex, kept to curfew, didn't steal from her purse, didn't do drugs... I pointed all this out once and got nowhere. She, of course, was heading towards menopause (and there was one summer, between my freshman & sophomore years of college, when her menopause was at its worst and she simply refused to talk to me or my sister, who was planning a wedding at the time). Since I had my daughter last, I'll be hitting menopause as she hits adolescence, and I hope to handle it better.

    This is what I think: It's always worse while you're in it than when you're looking back, whether it's being a teenager or raising a teenager (or any other kid in a difficult phase). It might help to try to look back at it while you're in it, you know?

    ReplyDelete
  19. Obviously many people get your sense of humor--or else we wouldn't be reading. I think it's likely that Anna will get it too one day.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I also, on several occasions, apologized to my mother for everything I may have done between the ages of 14 - 23. I have a mostly delightful 17 year-old daughter who has come out the other side of the puberty thing a pretty cool person.

    Then there's my 14 year-old daughter, who I'd alternately like to hug and strangle on a daily basis. This is the one giving me gray hairs. My greatest pleasure in life is taking her cell phone away. It's my best weapon.

    I also have a six year-old daughter. When she turns 12, I am running away. People laugh when I say that, like I'm kidding. She may well be going to live with a then 23 year-old sister. And I may be on a beach in Washington state.

    And I so agree with the whole teenage/hormonal thing hitting at the same time as menopause being a cruel joke. I'm 42. So when the little one is going through it, I'll be 48, 49? It's not fun now, and I'd rather not imagine that future. Ugh.

    ReplyDelete
  21. As someone without kids, but the oldest of five children, I appreciate your humor. My mom and I always got along really well, but I watcher her battle it out with my sister more than once [and they still do].

    I think you're refreshing, and I always laugh...mostly because I relate to every post in one way or another...because of my siblings of course.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I was the queen of eye rolling and I would now love to go back and smack myself in the back of a head. I think those of us with teenage kids get your posts as they are intended. It's reality-in a funny light. She'll appreciate you-when she has her first kid. That's what it took for me.

    ReplyDelete
  23. As a daughter estranged from her mother, I KNOW that you and Anna will be OKAY because you GET the humor of it all--and you both know that people can't help adolescence. That doesn't mean suffering through it, but handling it with compassion and levity (as you so beautifully do).

    ReplyDelete
  24. Don't you dare change your posts. You're the one in a million who dares to say what the rest of us are feeling.
    Love our kids the the Nth Degree - Sure we're their mom's. Ready to commit ourselves to the Looney Bin because of them - Yep! Doesn't mean we don't love em.
    Anna know's you love her or you would have made her miss her trip and stay home cleaning toliets for a month. She's knows you care and even though it might be awhile before she acknowledges you in public, it will all be worth it.

    ReplyDelete
  25. AnonymousJune 09, 2009

    Humor: A mother's nuclear weapon. Known to prevent actual bloodshed, reduce blood pressure and restore perspective. Keep using it. It will be Anna's weapon of choice when she has teenagers too and it will be an effective one because she will have learned from a master!

    ReplyDelete
  26. As a "motherless daughter" and a mother of daughters, I struggle daily with how to Mother and discipline correctly (step-mom was not a great example). I love the humor of your posts about Anna...I'm sure she will too, someday :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. I hope I have as good a sense of humor as you do when my daughter becomes a teenager. Your posts never offend me. Rob me of denial that MY sweet girl will never hate my guts, yes, but never offend me.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I get your humor too, and think it's a blessing that you can see the humor in otherwise painful moments. My mom and I got along growing up, but adolescence and sudden menopause came between my sister and mom quite a bit. Now that she's married and has her own daughter, they've become close once again. I feel sorry for your reader that can't enjoy the humor in your life stories...lessons can be learned from your interaction with your children.

    ReplyDelete
  29. My daughter has apologized many, many times for being such a brat when she was a teen. Hopefully Anna will too. Personally I think you are hilarous and have a way of being truthful and funny at the same time. Some people don't get it. It is okay. I guess.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Boy can I relate...I love your posts about Anna. I am starting the teen daughter/menopausal mother thing now. I am so glad she is the last of 4. I thought the boys had been body snatched, but they just got goofy, she is soooooo dramatic.

    My mom and I had just as rocky a time, I chose boarding school for 2 years, helped a lot. We are now good friends, and I constantly let her know that dd is her revenge...Love them both to pieces.

    ReplyDelete
  31. hmmm, I have a teen daughter, 14 and a step, 15. The step NEVER hugs me or her father, and NEVER tells us "I LOVE YOU"....she is not capable of saying those words to her parents, she just told me that today, I told her it would be nice of you to at least tell your Dad one time while your here for the summer, but I bet she won't. We have 8 weeks to go.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I'm going to repeat what the others have said...you have much more sense of humor about your daughter than I sometimes have with my teen girl. Even though I'm an adult and have a better handle on my emotions than she does, her behavior has been very hurtful. It's not about whether she does her chores or whether she's a straight-A student. The rude comments, eye rolling, and so forth does leave scars on Mom's heart.

    The young lady commenter still has a lot to learn.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I already got that, totally. It's true that having to explain a joke sort of ruins it, but I hope Anna does read this years from now.

    ReplyDelete
  34. My older girl was pretty stable through the teens , and does call me from college thanking me for "raising her right" compared to her roommates. I knew my younger girl would be different and she is - to the extreme. I am just glad that it is attitude and not boys, booze and drugs. But then, she is only 15...

    ReplyDelete
  35. My 13 yr old reminds me of your Anna. Sara is a drama queen. Everything is a "big deal". Now that she auditioned and won a part in the chorus for one of Shenandoah university's plays this summer, she will be even worse? I reminded her she better lose the attitude, as big sister or I will be the ones driving her 40 miles round trip daily for rehearsals or performances. I think she understood me, as she was pleasant for the rest of the day.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Mother of three sons here. I get what you're saying, but I'll also just say here that boys need to be responsible for cleaning the bathrooms just as much as girls do.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Your daughter is lucky that she has a Mom with such a great sense of humor---that is what gets us through. And I totally get you all the time, as I am about the biggest sarcastic loud mouth around----just ask MY kids!

    ReplyDelete
  38. My oldest daughter has entered into the eye-rolling, gusty sighing, disdainful looking, snotty commenting phase in her life. I so totally agree with the need to find humor in it or curl up into a ball on the floor and cry. Although sometimes it would be easier to curl up and cry, you know that you have to just try to deflect the hurtful behavior and keep trying to direct and guide as a mother is supposed to do! Keep up your blogging just as you do. It helps so many moms laugh also at themselves and also know they aren't alone!

    ReplyDelete
  39. apathy lounge - We have plenty of bathroom cleaning to go around here. My oldest son is in charge of the basement bathroom; my 11-year-old boy does the powder room. The children (both boys and girls) also do their own laundry from age 7 or so.

    If my future daughters-in-law do not bow down and worship me, I will want to know why.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Poor Ilana...Yale degree or not, she doesn't even know what she doesn't know.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Just had to throw this in. The other night I was talking to my my and TWICE I said, "I just don't know how the hell you put up with me." She said it wasn't that hard. She's a good liar...I remember some pretty obnoxious moments, many actually.

    I suspect you will get this same phone call from Anna some day.

    It ain't all Leave it to Beaver in this world.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Don't worry, we get the jokes. In fact, they cheer me up no end. I have a friend whose daughter is now 20; when she visited from college at Christmas, the two stayed up talking every night and were great friends. But when she was a teen, D told me, she couldn't have envisioned this. So hang in there! I love your stories.

    So where in Europe is this excellent vacation?

    ReplyDelete
  43. I love you. I'm so relieved when you post the real feelings you have in these pleasant mother-daughter situations. Also, I've got a neighbor with a new teenaged step-daughter who either a) loathes her or b) just acts that way because she's a teenager. I'm going to send her the link to your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Absolutely!! Bless you for referring me to this post. You do have to see the humor. You have to, it's one of the best coping skills.

    Awesome, and thank you. I know just what you're saying.

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin