This title and post was 13 year old daughter approved. The irony that she sometimes probably wonders if all parents are as terrible as I am, is not lost on me.
Here I am, where I find myself often, red faced and frowning wondering why I keep committing to the same mistake over and over again. I plan. I pay. I get excited. Then when the time comes and I find out that it was all in vain because no matter what I do, it won’t be appreciated. Do I do it for the appreciation? In a word, no. I do it for the quality time, the fun and most of all, the memories.
It seems like a long time when we live it, but when we look back, our children are small for such a short time. So when plans, even mutually chosen ones are unappreciated, the moments I wanted to look back on, recalling the laughing and excitement are stolen and replaced by memories of an entitled child making sure you know just how miserable it is for them to spend time with you.
Maybe it is easier to handle in a two parent family where at least you have an ally by your side, because as a solo individual, I don’t know how to soften the blow. I know it is not my kids job to build my ego, but I think it would be easier if I had a partner not to let them so easily rip it apart.
As a parent, I feel like people tell me that the worst thing you can ever hear from your child is, I hate you. I adamantly disagree. It’s not the emotions that they have for you, it’s the ones they lack. Sometimes your child can look at you in a way the dehumanizes you. I didn’t choose to raise kids so I could slowly slip into the background and supply money and transportation, while they live a completely separate life, at least not at 13. That’s what it feels like. At least when they say they hate you, they are acknowledging you have feelings, even if they are trying to hurt them. It’s when they treat you like nothing that is the worst feeling.
Maybe it’s not the same for other parents. By all means, being the only mother in the house she lives in 365 nights a year, I consider myself her mother, but sometimes I feel like she doesn’t. Maybe because I know, she will never call me mom. Maybe because I see how hard she longs for her biological mother. But maybe it is just me and my insecurities. Maybe she is acting like every other child and I am unfairly attributing motive to her normal displays of anti-social, over dramatic, teen angst.
Well at least this was a learning experience for us both and my daughter had the satisfying experience of hearing me admit I had been a hypocrite, because I openly admitted that I was completely ignoring my own advice I had just dished out that morning which was,
“The only thing in this world that nobody has any control over is your attitude. When you let them get to you and walk around with the resulting negative attitude, you are just handing them your power.”
But I guess she got to watch first hand how to try to take your power back gracefully.
Personally, I think children feel powerless and these displays of crappy, yet typical teenage angst are simply their way of asserting power. Maybe if we handed them power instead of forcing them to fight for it, we could avoid much of the struggle. Parents need to have the final say when it comes to safety and major decisions, but we need to pick our battles over some of the small things, and when we can’t compromise, at least we can show empathy.
I do know that I have not yet experienced the last tiff with my child, but I do hope the arguments become fewer and farther between. And I hope that they serve to display for my child how to successfully navigate the unavoidable instances of conflict she will face throughout her life time. And I would not mind if they helped me the same way.